New food vending machine legislation frustrates operators in Victoria

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th September 2011

Tighter regulation of food vending machines in Victoria has angered some operators, who say recent changes in government legislation will do little to solve the problem of illegitimate operators.

From 1 July 2011, changes to the Food Act have been implemented in Victoria. These changes have created additional legal responsibility and food business registration requirements in relation to food vending machines.

As well as being required to register food vending machines with their principal council before 1 October 2011, food vending machine operators in Victoria are to report on their food-handling activities to their principal council so that the council is able to access the food safety risks associated with the particular food products and locations of vending machines.

Bob Goss, President of the Independent Vending Machine Operators Association (IVMOA) told Australian Food News that the change in legislation is not only of little use to legitimate food vending machine operators in Victoria, but also does nothing to curb illegal operation of food vending machines.

Mr Goss said, “There are more than 70 principal councils in Victoria, which means there are large numbers of health inspectors from different councils each looking at the new legislation and interpreting it differently.

“The main issue, however, is that the only people that are being sent out information on the new legislation are those in the IVMOA or involved with it – our members are the legitimate operators. Yet we believe there are thousands of illegitimate operators in Victoria who are escaping the radar. If they are caught, they are subject to a fine from the government. However, these people are not being caught which is why there is not a level playing field,” he said.

“We have no problem with regulation, but most operators involved in the IVMOA are self-regulated anyway. The new legislation is giving these legitimate operators more work and it is costing them.”

There are also particular concerns over the impact of this new law change for small businesses with a small number of vending machines. Proponents of the legislation argue, however, that the concerns about vending machines are legitimate because new vending technologies that cook food are considered to be equally hazardous to other cooked food outlets.