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Mixed GST status on food products

Understand when a mixed GST status applies to food.

Last updated 16 May 2024

Food products with alternative (non-food) uses

Some GST-free food products have alternative non-food uses.

The supplier must work out whether the item is for human consumption (GST-free) or is a non-food product (taxable). You can work this out by considering the:

  • physical product
  • nature of the sale.

For example, you might decide a food product is for non-food use because the product is:

  • called something other than food
  • stored in conditions or containers that are not suitable for food
  • packaged in a non-food type package or container
  • labelled, invoiced or marketed as a non-food product
  • delivered in a way not suitable for food.

Example: food product with an alternative (non-food) use

Vinegar sold as a condiment is GST-free as it is added to food for human consumption. Vinegar sold as a household cleaner is not GST-free because it is not a sale of food for human consumption.

End of example

Snack packs

Snack packs can contain a combination of GST-free and taxable goods. How you treat them for GST purposes depends on their contents and packaging.

Example: snack packs

Where a GST-free food item is packaged together with a taxable food item (for example, cheese and biscuits) as a snack pack, it is subject to GST. The snack pack is taxable as the items are packaged together, marketed and sold as a single product.

End of example

Hampers and combination supplies

Where a mix of individually commercially packaged GST-free and taxable goods is packed and sold together you tax these items individually as a mixed sale. For example, a product containing a packet of biscuits, a box of chocolates, a coffee cup and a jar of coffee is a mixed supply. This hamper product contains biscuits, chocolates and cup which are taxable and the coffee is GST-free.

However, food products that are a combination of taxable and GST-free food components are taxable. A combination food is different to a hamper. You can use the principles in Goods and Services Tax Determination GSTD 2024/1 Goods and services tax: supplies of combination food, to determine what is a combination food.

Food past its use-by date

Food past its use-by date is not automatically unfit for human consumption but you can use the use-by date as a guide to work out whether the food is suitable for human consumption.

If the food is not safe for human consumption, it is not considered food under GST law and is therefore taxable.