Don’t risk illegal food sales on social media (23 September 2020)

Buying food from unregulated vendors on social media puts both you and your family at risk of food poisoning.

The Food Safety Information Council today warned Australians not to buy or sell food, prepared in unregulated home kitchens, that is being offered on social media sites.

Cathy Moir, Food Safety Information Council Chair, said that people selling unregulated food through social media sites such as Facebook and WeChat were putting the public at risk, as it was unlikely they would meet the required food safety standards.

‘We first became aware of this practice after media reports back in May 2020 and since then this practice has increased significantly with a range of high-risk foods such as curries, spring rolls, dumplings, roast meats, baked goods, pastas, seafood and even raw sausages being offered. These unregulated food sales are a considerable food safety risk. There is a real risk of food poisoning, which, in its worst form can have severe health consequences.’ Ms Moir said.

‘Not only that, it is illegal. Government and local council enforcement agencies are clamping down on these unregistered food businesses, as and when they become aware of them. However, new sellers keep popping up and this is putting a considerable strain on our health services.

‘The rules around the production and selling of food are very strict for a reason, and anyone selling food must adhere to these regulations in their State or Territory. This requires specific food safety knowledge and controls that cover hygiene, safe cooking and cooling rules, correct refrigeration, safe storage and transportation. It is unlikely that food prepared in a home kitchen or backyard BBQ would meet these standards.

‘Another reason to be extremely wary of these illegal sellers is a risk of allergic reactions. Licensed sellers must also be aware of any labelling requirements, including the allergens in their food, so they can inform consumers.

‘Don’t risk buying from an illegal seller. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the location you collect the food from a home address?
  • Does the vendor have a website or social media page that proves it is a licensed food business and, if not, have you asked for proof that they have a food licence or are a registered business?
  • Is the food a much cheaper price than you would usually pay?

‘If in doubt, don’t take the risk of buying unsafe food. Support your local food businesses instead, either in store or by ordering online.

‘If you are considering turning your hobby into a business, we recommend contacting your local council for advice on how to set up a food business, safely. There are council contact details and also access to online food safety training courses on our website If you have a local farmers’ market they may also be able to advise you about how to sell your food legally,’ Ms Moir concluded.

Media contact:

Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or