Skills and knowledge for food handlers

Food businesses have responsibilities to ensure that staff who undertake or supervise food handling activities have the skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene for the work that they do.

Food handlers need the skills and knowledge to keep food safe for the tasks that they do in the business. They do not need skills and knowledge for all jobs in the business. For example, a cook will need skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene that are quite different from those needed by a waiter. It is important to remember that if some staff help with other tasks when people are away, then they must also have the skills and knowledge required for this other work.

Businesses can choose the approach that best suits their needs to ensure that food handles have the required skills and knowledge to keep food safe.

Training courses and resources

SA Health has developed some training resources. If you would like a copy of these, please contact the Food Safety and Nutrition Branch. For other possible training opportunities contact:

  • your local council
  • a teaching institution in your area such as TAFE SA
  • an industry association
  • My Skills - a database of registered training organisations and courses available in Australia


Skills are about ensuring staff have the ability to perform their tasks

Knowledge is about ensuring staff have an understanding of the issues and risks associated with their tasks

Food safety covers requirements for what staff should do to keep food safe

Food hygiene covers requirements for what staff should do to ensure they do not contaminate the food they are handling

Cleaning and sanitising

Legislation requires food premises including fixtures, fittings and equipment to be kept clean. Utensils, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with food must also be sanitised. This may include equipment used to clean food contact surfaces, for example cleaning cloths.

It is also important to ensure all mechanical equipment is cleaned and sanitised to maintain food safety standards.

See the Cleaning and sanitising in food businesses page for more information on effective cleaning and sanitising in your business, including mechanical equipment.

Further information

For further information on food handlers skills and knowledge, see Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

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