Dairy manufacturers

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 Dairy Food Safety Victoria (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.

The Victorian dairy licence handbook outlines what is required to obtain and operate under a DFSV dairy licence.

Exemptions from having to hold a dairy industry licence

Some businesses oversee the manufacture or distribution of mixed food commodities, for example, a business may manufacture baked goods such as cakes or biscuits as well as a small proportion of cream cheese. In these instances, in order to ensure small business is not subject to undue regulatory burden, Victoria’s single food regulator policy comes into effect. This is where food regulators work collaboratively to determine who should regulate the business.

Such decisions are informed by the activities conducted by the business, including the food safety risk, the proportion of food type produced and whether the site already holds a relevant registration or licence in Victoria with another food regulator. In some circumstances, DFSV may grant exemptions from having to hold a dairy industry licence to dairy manufacturers and distributors under Section 22A (1) of the Victorian Dairy Act 2000, provided certain policy and statutory requirements are met.

For general Dairy Manufacturers and Distributors

A written exemption from the requirement to hold a dairy industry licence may be granted if the proportion of dairy food manufactured or distributed is less than 50% of the site’s total food production and it meets the below conditions:

  1. Does not receive raw milk AND
  2. Holds a current and valid local government registration under the Victorian Food Act 1984 (or a licence with PrimeSafe under its relevant Acts)  AND
  3. Has in place a quality assurance or food safety program which has been assessed by DFSV to adequately cover dairy food safety.

For ice-cream Manufacturers 

An automatic exemption exists (i.e. there is no need to apply to DFSV for a written exemption) if the business meets the following conditions:

  1. Does not receive raw milk AND
  2. Holds a current and valid local government registration under the Food Act 1984 AND
  3. Does not wholesale any product i.e., the business ONLY undertakes direct retail sale to consumers for consumption on the premises where it has been manufactured, or take away for immediate consumption.

Please note: Applications for exemption received from export-registered facilities (or those seeking to undertake export activities) will be considered in conjunction with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

  1. 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.

  2. 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. As well as the application fee, the food safety program must form part of the initial application, if it is not submitted within 14 days of applying, the application may be refused and the application fee refunded.

    Use the Developing a food safety program: guidelines for dairy food manufacturers as a guide to writing your food safety program. The Model food safety program can be used as a template for documenting 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 Compendium of Microbiological Criteria for Food 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Need help?

If you have any questions or need more information contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or
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. The applicant must be a licenseable legal entity (e.g. natural person in law, registered partnership, company or Trustee and trust)

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 and licence cancellations can be downloaded and printed. Return completed forms to DFSV with applicable payment made by EFT (EFT details are on the application form).

New licence (manufacturer)         Cancel a dairy licence

Click here for a dairy manufacturer application information pack

Click  here for information regarding application terminology


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.

Once your application is received a DFSV food safety manager will make contact with you within seven business days after a full application has been submitted ie, an application where the application form, fee and food safety program have been submitted. You will have 14 days to supply full details after submitting your application, otherwise your application may be refused and the application fee refunded.

In order to assist DFSV in processing your application within 90 business days from receipt, please ensure that:

  • The application form is complete and includes relevant payment, and
  • A food safety program is provided that meets DFSV food safety program guidelines (refer to Developing a food safety program: guidelines for dairy food manufacturers and Model food safety program on the DFSV website), and
  • Any requested changes to your food safety program draft must be completed and returned within a 30 day period. Failure to do so may result in your application being refused and the application fee forfeited.

The manufacturing premise should also be compliant with the relevant legislation (ch 3.2.2 of the Food Standards Code).

If these conditions are not met your licence application may not be progressed within this period and may be subject to cancellation after three months from the date of application unless an extension is granted by a member of DFSV's Senior Management Team. Applicants will be advised that their application has been refused and that a new application will be required to be submitted. No refund is issued.

A licence application may be refused if the applicant fails to meet the licence approval requirements.

Application fees

New licence application fee
The one-off application fee for new dairy manufacturer licences is $200.15.

Licence fees
Fees are paid annually for the licence 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 $667.85 will be charged for all manufacturer licence renewals and depending on the amount of dairy product manufactured:

  •  the amount of dairy product manufactured measured in weight at $1.6199 per tonne
  • the volume of dairy product manufactured measured in volume at $0.0016160 per litre

These fees are applied pro-rata to new licences and only the base fee is charged. If moving to new premises within a licence period, the licence fee already paid will be transferred to the new licence.

Audit fees
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. 

Audit fees (per hour) - Standard Domestic & Export  $267.55 + GST
Desktop CAR close-out time (per hour)  $267.55 + GST
On-site CAR close-out fees (per hour - minimum one hour)  $267.55 + 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.

Technical information

DFSV has developed a range of technical information notes that provide practical information on various food safety topics relevant to operating a dairy business.

Technical advice

DFSV provides specialist support services to licensees, including regulations and standards interpretation and guidance, risk analysis, and technical and scientific advice.

If you need information or advice on any issue related to dairy food safety, please contact us by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 03 9810 5900.

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 three in regional Victoria and cover a range of current topics related to food safety.

You can register your interest in upcoming forums online.

Other information and resources

A range of regulatory and technical resources  are also available on this site.


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