ACT News


Sausage sizzle laws wound back for for community and non-profit groups raising funds

Fund-raising activities by community and non-profit groups will be exempted from onerous ACT food safety regulation and a new category created for large events with a higher health risks for consumers, reports Tim McIlroy. 

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Changes to ACT law will see fund-raising activities by community and non-profit groups exempted from onerous food safety regulations and a new category created for large events with a higher health risks for consumers. 

Laws introduced in September 2013 sparked a community backlash, including over requirements that organisations holding more than five food sales each year appoint a trained food safety officer to prevent hygiene problems and food poisoning. 

Organisers of sausage sizzles and other food sales in Canberra said expensive training and compliance threatened their viability.  

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher introduced legislation on Thursday which would see large-scale events such as the National Multicultural Festival designated by the health minister, requiring organisers to register and complete online food safety training. 

Also included in the legislation are provisions for businesses selling only packaged and non-perishable foods to no longer be required to register with ACT Health. These food items include cereals, breads and long life milk which pose little risk to the health of consumers.

Ms Gallagher said the changes had been assessed against public health priorities, with more than 2500 registered food businessess operating in the ACT and the sector dominated by small players. 


Businesses and other organisations which sell or prepare food in areas other than raising funds will continue to be covered by the existing regulation, including school canteens operating with volunteer staff. 

The changes will impact on barbecues and other low risk food sales, and are designed to promote the sale of more nutritious foods including soup, fruit salad and rice dishes. The potentially higher risk is considered appropriate  to encourage the sale of healthier foods, in keeping with ACT government efforts to promote healthy lifestyles.  

"These reforms will have real impacts across the ACT community by directly addressing concerns about compliance requirements for what are assessed as lower risk activities," Ms Gallagher said.  

"These changes are not a shifting of the regulatory burden between government, business and the community, but are a genuine reduction in red tape  for the ACT."

If passed by the Assembly, the legislation would also see the health minister given the authority to exempt food businesses from appointing safety supervisors on a case-by-case basis and business registration extended to up to three years, in place of annual registration. 

A food safety regulation reference group will be established by ACT Health.

"These amendments build on a range of government actions to reduce red tape to support efficient and effective regulatory outcomes and reduce the burden on community organisations," Ms Gallagher said. 

The bill is likely to be passed by the Assembly in coming months. It includes two changes of a technical nature: removing a 21 day time limit in which the ACT Chief Health Officer must publish convictions on the register of offences for health regulation and changes to the offence of interfering with closure notices for safety breaches. 

Ms Gallagher said some businesses have been found trying to hide or  obscure closure notices, but the legislation would place responsibility for the proper display of closure notices on the business owner.