Imported food is inspected and tested under our Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS).
Most food imports from New Zealand aren't referred for inspection or testing. New Zealand and Australia have joint food standards allowing food to be imported between the countries without border inspection.
We operate the IFIS based on food being classified as:
- risk food
- surveillance food
- compliance agreement food
We classify food as risk food in the Imported Food Control Order 2019. This is based on advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that the food poses a medium or high risk to public health.
All consignments of risk food are referred to us. The rate of inspection of these consignments is based on the food’s history of compliance. A history of compliance is developed based on the producer, country of origin, and tariff code.
The rate of inspection starts at 100% and then:
- is reduced to 25% of consignments following 5 consecutive passes
- is reduced to 5% following a further 20 consecutive passes
- is increased back to 100% if a risk food fails inspection.
Some risk foods need certificates for import. See:
Food that is not risk food or compliance agreement food is classified as surveillance food.
Surveillance food is referred randomly to the IFIS using electronic profiles in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS). We refer 5% of surveillance food consignments for inspection under the IFIS.
When a surveillance food fails inspection, we apply a holding order to target future consignments. Future consignments will be referred at the rate of 100% until a history of compliance is established, normally following five consecutive passes.
Compliance agreement food
Food imported under a Food Import Compliance Agreement is classified as compliance agreement food.
Compliance agreement food is managed under a food importer’s own documented food safety compliance system. It is not referred to the IFIS for inspection.
Food safety recognition agreement
Food safety recognition agreements reduce the rate of inspection and analysis of a food covered by the agreement imported from a particular country. In these agreements, we recognise a country’s food safety and monitoring system as comparable to Australia’s.
See current agreements and the foods covered.
Voluntary government certification
Countries can export some foods which are classified as risk into Australia under a voluntary certification arrangement. This assures us that food safety risks are being managed.
See current voluntary government certification arrangements.
All food consignments inspected under the IFIS have a visual and label assessment. Samples of food may be taken for analytical tests depending on the type of food. Check what tests we apply to food imports.
We issue a Food Control Certificate (FCC) to notify food importers that their food will be inspected.
Find out more about how imported food is inspected and tested.
If food fails inspection, it cannot be released. The importer will need to either:
- relabel the imports if labelling issues were found
- destroy or re-export the food under the supervision of an authorised officer.
We issue an Imported Food Inspection Advice (IFIA) to let the importer know if a food has failed and what their options are.