Composition and labelling of food

Food composition

Requirements for food composition are set out in Chapters 1 and 2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).

The Code has requirements around:

  • substances that are permitted to be added to food
  • limits for contaminants, residues and microorganisms that pose a high public health risk
  • permission of certain food that require pre-market clearance such as irradiated foods.

There are also compositional Standards for certain categories of foods. For example, there are requirements for the amount of fat free meat that must be in a sausage. These Standards are found in Chapter 2 of the Code.

Food labelling

Food labelling informs the consumer of the properties of food offered for sale. The labelling requirements for foods sold in Australia are set out in Chapter 1 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

This includes the requirements to list information on packaging such as business names and address, food identification, warning statements (inc. allergens), ingredients, date marking and storage conditions and nutrition information.

The South Australian Food Act 2001, prohibits the sale of food that is falsely described or is labelled or advertised in a way that is misleading.

Voluntary labelling information

Nutrition content and health claims are an example of labelling information that be voluntarily made on labels. If made, these claims must meet the requirements set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Nutrition content claims are claims about the content of certain nutrients or substances in a food, such as ‘low in fat’ or ‘good source of calcium’. These claims will need to meet certain criteria set out in the Standard.
Health claims refer to a relationship between a food and health rather than a statement of content. There are 2 types of health claims:

  • General level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food, or the food itself, and the health effect it has or may have on maintaining normal health and wellbeing (e.g. ‘Calcium for healthy bones and teeth’). They must not refer to a serious disease or to a biomarker of a serious disease.
  • High level health claims refer to a nutrient or substance in a food and its relationship to a serious disease or to a biomarker of a serious disease. (for example ‘Diets high in calcium may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in people 65 years and over’ or ‘Phytosterols may reduce blood cholesterol’).

Food businesses choosing to self-substantiate a food-health relationship must notify FSANZ of the relationship before making a general level health claim based on the food-health relationship on food labels or in advertising. More information on self-substantiating food-health relationships for general level health claims and on the notification process is provided on the FSANZ website.

Further information:

Labelling exemptions

There are exemptions for some foods not to display some or all of the labelling requirements. Examples include foods that are:

  • unpackaged
  • made and packaged on the premises from which it is sold
  • packaged in the presence of the purchaser or packaged foods displayed in an assisted service cabinet
  • in an 'inner' package which are not designed to be sold without the outer package
  • delivered packaged and ready for consumption at the order of the customer
  • sold at a fundraising event

However, where food is unpackaged information about food composition and any storage and cooling instructions required to keep the food safe must be made available for consumers and customers.

Labelling of kilojoule information in chain food outlets

The South Australian Food Regulations 2017 require multiple-site food businesses (chain food outlets) to display certain nutrition information at the point of sale. The information that needs to be displayed is:

  • the average energy content of each standardised food item, expressed in kilojoules (kJ)
  • a statement that 'the average daily intake is 8,700 kJ'

SA Health has produced a User Guide for Display of Kilojoules at Multiple-Site Food Businesses (PDF 838KB) which explains the requirements in more detail.

Who must comply

Multiple-site food business that are required to comply with legislation are those which have 20 or more outlets in South Australia, or 50 or more in Australia nationally.

If a business opens their 20th outlet in South Australia they have to comply with the legislation, but they have 12 months to do so. The 12 month compliance also applies if they open their 50th outlet nationally.


Supermarkets, convenience stores, caterers, not-for-profit delivered meal organisations and outlets where food is only sold for the consumption on the premises on which it is sold are exempted from the legislation.

Kilojoule information is also not required for loaves of bread, plain bread rolls or standardised food items that are sold for less than 60 consecutive days on a trial basis at five or less locations in South Australia.