Food Labelling in Canteens Fact Sheet

Food Labelling in Canteens fact sheet pdf print version PDF File (230kb)

Canteens must ensure that food labelling complies with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). Under the Code, most food sold from a canteen has to be labelled with certain information (e.g. the name of the food, ingredients, date produced, etc). Labelling requirements vary depending where the food is prepared.

Labelling requirements for food made in a canteen

Under the Code, food prepared onsite and sold on the same day does not have to be labelled. However, the canteen must be able to provide the following information about the food either verbally, in writing upon request, or displayed in connection with the food:

  • a name/description of the food
  • the ingredients
  • any applicable mandatory warnings/allergens (see below)
  • directions for use/storage

Food that is prepared onsite and then frozen for preparation at a later date (e.g. pasta sauce, soup, meat patties, etc) must be labelled with the following information:

  • name or description of the food
  • ingredients
  • lot identification
  • date produced
  • warnings (see below for details)
  • supplier
  • use and storage details

The below table provides an example of the labelling requirements for a pasta sauce that is made onsite and then frozen.

Table 1 - Pasta sauce made onsite and frozen prior to sale

Description of the food 

Bolognese sauce 

Ingredients  

Beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil 
Lot identification  Batch 1 - 8am 
Date produced  24 November 2014 
Warnings (mandatory
declarations, allergens) 
None applicable 
Supplier  Made on site 
Use and storage  Keep refrigerated and dispose of within 48 hours of cooking.
Can be frozen for 1 month. 

Labelling requirements for food made offsite

All food prepared offsite must comply with labelling requirements set out in the Code. This includes food purchased offsite or through a supplier and brought to a school to be sold at the canteen (e.g. fruit cups, plain scones, salad sandwiches, hummus dip, etc).

Food items that do not come individually packaged but are sold individually (e.g. a bulk container of scones) do not require individual labelling. A single label on the packaging is acceptable.

The following labelling information is required on the packaging of food made offsite:

  • name or description of the food
  • name, address and contact number of supplier
  • ingredients
  • lot identification
  • date produced
  • warnings (see below for further information).

The table below provides an example of the labelling requirements for chocolate cake purchased offsite and provided for sale at a school.

Table 2 - Fruit Scone made offsite

Description of the food  Fruit scones 
Ingredients  Scone: Wheat flour (contains wheat), sugar, butter, eggs, milk, sultanas
Lot identification  Batch 3 – 3pm 
Date produced  24 November 2014 
Warnings (mandatory
declarations, allergens) 
Contains Wheat, Egg and Milk.
Ingredient packets state 'May contain traces of Peanuts and Tree nuts'. 
Supplier  Name and address of producer. 
Use and storage  Store at room temperature. Consume within 48 hours.

Note: Items in bold are mandatory declarations that must be identified in the ingredients list (see below for more information).

Mandatory, Advisory and Declarations (Allergens)

The Code lists all mandatory warning and advisory statements that must be included on food labels. This information must be included on the packaging of a food item. If the food item is unpackaged, the information must be displayed near the food or provided to the customer on request.

The table below provides a list of products that must be declared on food labels.

Table 3 - Food that must have mandatory declarations 

Added Sulphites in concentrations of 10 mg/kg or more

Cereals containing gluten and their products, namely wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt and their hybridised strains

Crustaceans and their products

Egg and egg products

Fish and fish products

Milk and milk products

Peanuts and peanut products

Sesame seeds and sesame seed products (e.g. tahini)

Soybeans and soybean products

Tree nuts and tree nut products other than coconut 

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

It is the responsibility of all food businesses, including canteens, to ensure that their food labelling complies with the Code. The majority of food labelling requirements are detailed in

Part 1.2 - Labelling and other Information Requirements of the Code, however other sections of the Code may also apply to certain foods. The Code is available at http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx External Link

For more information or for questions about food regulation in the ACT, please contact the Health Protection Service on 6205 1700 or email hps@act.gov.au