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.
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. 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 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. 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).
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.
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 1,500 tonnes|
Greater than 1,500,000 litres
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 $643.50 and depending on the products manufactured and a fee based on:
- the amount of dairy product manufactured measured in weight at $1.5608 per tonne
- the volume of dairy product manufactured measured in volume at $0.0015571 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.
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)||$257.80 +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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