Once you make the decision to start a dairy food manufacturing business, there are several steps to follow before you can legally operate.
Take a look at each of the sections below for all the information you'll need to get started, including a checklist of requirements before you apply for a dairy licence with DFSV.
To operate a dairy manufacturing business in Victoria you are required under the Dairy Act 2000 to be licensed with DFSV and comply with the conditions of that licence. Dairy manufacturer licence holders must also comply with all relevant provisions of the Food Act 1984 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in the conduct of the dairy business and the processing, handling, packaging and storage of dairy food.
Please note: DFSV has, under the power at Section 22A(1) of the Dairy Act 2000, exempted proprietors of food businesses that manufacture ice cream and/or frozen yoghurt from pasteurised milk for direct retail sale to consumers for consumption on the premises, or to take away for immediate consumption, from the requirement to hold a dairy industry licence.
- Ensure your premises meets the requirements
Your manufacturing premises and equipment must be fit for purpose, in a good state of repair, able to be cleaned and sanitised effectively and comply with Standard 3.2.3 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Additional information can be found in the DFSV Hygienic design: guidelines for dairy food manufacturing premises. You may also need to obtain local council planning approval for new or modified premises.
- Develop a written food safety program
The Food Standards Code requires dairy manufacturing businesses to control potential food safety hazards by implementing a documented food safety program based on Codex HACCP principles as outlined in Codex Alimentarius, Basic Texts on Food Hygiene, Annex Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System and Guidelines for its Application.
The program must outline the control measures and procedures in place to reduce or eliminate food safety hazards associated with milk and dairy products at each point in the food manufacturing process.
Use the Guidelines for Food Safety: Dairy Food Manufacturers as a guide to writing your food safety program. Some businesses choose to engage professional assistance in drafting a food safety program but care must be taken to ensure that you understand the program and can implement it fully when you commence operations.
A microbiological testing program must be included in your food safety program. Please refer to the Microbiological Testing Criteria for guidance.
Additional requirements – producing raw milk cheese
If you intend to produce raw milk cheese you will need to address the additional requirements under Standard 4.2.4 in a documented and validated food safety program for DFSV approval. Further information, including a checklist of the additional requirements, is available here.
Additional requirements – milk not intended for human consumption
If you are receiving raw milk direct from a farm and intend to produce dairy products that are not for human consumption you are required to be licensed with DFSV. Such products must be treated to deter human consumption and must not be packaged in a way that could be confused with products intended for consumption. You will need to provide a plan for achieving this to DFSV for approval.
- Understand the requirements if you plan to export
If you plan to export dairy products, contact the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Businesses exporting must meet the regulatory requirements of the Export Control (Milk and Milk Products) Orders 2005 and be registered with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. To assess if you are ready to trade, follow the steps on the Dairy Australia Trade Ready portal.
- Ensure adequate skills
Ensure you have the necessary skills and competency to manage all the food safety aspects of your business. Further information is available in the DFSV Technical Information Note: Competency and training for dairy manufacturers.
on 03 9810 5900.
A dairy manufacturer licence must be held by the person or entity in charge of operating the business and therefore ultimately responsible for the safety of the dairy food handled.
If you plan to operate at more than one site, each site must be licensed separately with DFSV or if two separate businesses operate from the same premises, each may be required to hold a licence.
Submitting your application
Applications for new licences, licence transfers and licence cancellations can be completed online, along with credit card payment of the relevant application fee.
Alternatively, forms can be downloaded and printed. Return completed forms to DFSV with applicable payments made by cheque or EFT.
Click here for information to assist you to complete your application.
Please note that it is an offence under the Dairy Act 2000 to commence operations prior to the licence being issued by Dairy Food Safety Victoria.
When a completed licence application (form and payment) has been received by DFSV, a food safety manager will contact you to discuss your application, the submission of your food safety program, and the process for becoming approved. This will include a site inspection.
The time it takes to approve the application will depend on the results of the review of your food safety program and the inspection of the operating premises.
1. Your dairy food safety program is reviewed to ensure it:
- identifies and addresses food safety risks
- complies with legislation
- complies with export/trade requirements (where applicable)
- can be audited for compliance with national food safety standards.
2. Written feedback will be provided if amendments to the food safety program are required.
- are in a good state of repair
- are able to be cleaned and sanitised effectively
- comply with legislation
- comply with export/trade requirements (where applicable).
4. Once approved, your licence certificate and an invoice for the licence fee will be posted to you.
Please display your licence certificate in a prominent place in your business.
5. When you have received your licence you may commence production.
Within 30 days of the commencement of operations, the first audit is required to be conducted.
New licence application fee
The one-off application fee for new licences is tiered, based on the anticipated annual production (volume or weight) of dairy food (finished product) manufactured by the applicant.
|Production volumes||Application fee|
|Greater than 1500 tonnes|
Greater than 150000 litres
Licence transfer fee
If applying to transfer a dairy manufacturer licence, a fee of $190.00 must be submitted to DFSV with your transfer application form.
Fees are paid annually for the period 1 January to 31 December and are calculated on finished product volumes or weights of dairy foods manufactured. Where a business manufactures dairy and non-dairy food, it is only the volume or weight of the dairy food manufactured that is used to calculate the fees.
A base fee of $634.00 and depending on the products manufactured and a fee based on:
- the amount of dairy product manufactured measured in weight at $1.5377 per tonne
- the volume of dairy product manufactured measured in volume at $0.0015341 per litre
These fees are applied pro-rata to new licences. If moving to new premises within a licence period, the licence fee already paid will be transferred to the new licence.
To monitor ongoing compliance, dairy manufacturer licensees are required to be audited every six months, with the first audit of a new licensee conducted within 30 days of the commencement of operations.
Fees for scheduled audits and to close out any corrective action requests are charged at the same hourly rate. Enforcement audits – additional audits directed by DFSV if serious non-compliance or risk is identified – are also charged at an hourly rate, but at a higher rate than charged for scheduled audits.
|Scheduled audit (per hour)||$254.00 +GST|
|Enforcement audit (per hour)||$605.00 +GST|
|Late payment fee||$50.00 +GST|
Full details of all fees and charges can be found here.
DFSV provides technical support and advice for manufacturers. The goal is to foster industry capability and competence in food safety.
DFSV has developed a range of technical information notes that provide practical information on various food safety topics relevant to operating a dairy business.
DFSV provides specialist support services to licensees, including regulations and standards interpretation and guidance, risk analysis, and technical and scientific advice.
Learning Network forums
All Victorian dairy manufacturers are invited to attend DFSV’s Learning Network forums.
The forums are held twice a year in six locations across Victoria – two in metropolitan Melbourne and four in regional Victoria and cover a range of current topics related to food safety.
You can register your interest in upcoming forums online.
A range of regulatory and technical resources are also available on this site.
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