Opening a food business
All Victorian food businesses that handle, prepare, package, store, serve, supply or convey food must be registered or notify under the Food Act.
If you are thinking of starting your own food business in a fixed premise such as a café, restaurant, factory, or other permanent structure there are some important steps you will need to follow.
If your business is not a fixed premises, you need to visit the temporary food premises tab below. Examples of temporary food businesses are:
- Mobile food premises – such as cart, trailer or van
- Temporary or portable food premise – such as a marquee or tent
- Food vending machines
- Water carters.
Research your idea and form a business plan
Formulating a business plan is your first and most important step to ensure your business will be sustainable.
Increase your chances of success in your business by checking the tool kit on the Business Victoria website and formulating a
Our website also has information on starting and growing your business.
Approval from other authorities
Permits or exemptions may be required from other authorities prior to applying for a registration under the Food Act. These may include, but are not limited to:
New food business
If you are looking to open a new food business it is recommended that you submit plans of the proposed food business, along with a written description about the type of food and premises you would like to set up.
If you have lodged your application form and paid the required fee, written advice will be provided. If you would like written advice regarding the suitability of a premises, you can lodge a New Premises – Pre Purchase Inspection Application. This is recommended particularly if you are purchasing an existing food business, or fitting out a vacant space.
All food premises must comply with the Food Standards Code. The guidance document Setting Up A Food Business(PDF, 417KB) will also assist with construction requirements for a food premises.
Prior to Council granting a Certificate of Registration, the following requirements must be met:
- Application to register form must be submitted and fee paid
- Final inspection of the food premises by a Council Environmental Health Officer
- Food Safety Program is maintained on-site (Class 1 & 2 Food Businesses Only)
- Food Safety Supervisor’s Certificate submitted (Class 1 & 2 Food Business).
Buying an existing food business
If you are buying an existing food business, it is advisable (but not compulsory) to organise an inspection of the premises under the Food Act 1984 prior to negotiating the purchase. You will need to complete an Application to Transfer a Food Business(PDF, 133KB) form and pay a fee. Once the premises is transferred into your name, any outstanding food safety requirements will become your responsibility.
Making alterations to your business
The guidance document Setting up a Food Business(PDF, 417KB) has been developed to assist people altering or starting a new food premises, in line with the Food Standards Code. If you decide to undertake any works, it is recommended to submit a plan to the Environmental Health Department for approval and advice prior to commencement of any works. If plans are not submitted, any works undertaken must comply with the Food Safety Standards.
Classification of food businesses
The Food Act defines four different classes of food premises, each with different registration or notification requirements. The classification system is based on the level of food safety risk posed by the food handling occurring at the business, with Class 1 the highest level of risk and Class 4 the lowest:
- Class 1 – Hospitals, childcare centres, and listed facilities for the aged, at which ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food is served
- Class 2 – All other premises (other than Class 1) that handle potentially hazardous unpackaged foods
- Class 3 – Premises handling unpackaged low risk foods, selling potentially hazardous pre-packaged foods, or the warehousing or distribution of pre-packaged foods
- Class 4 – Premises that only retail pre-packaged low risk foods, and certain other low risk or occasional activities.
More information on classifications be found at the Department of Health and Human Services.
If you fall under Class 4 – your business does not need to be registered, however you must complete and lodge a Notification Form(PDF, 101KB).
Class 1, 2 and 3 food businesses are required to renew their Food Act Registration on an annual basis, with fees payable by 31 December each year.
Food safety programs and minimum records
Upon registration, Class 1 and 2 food businesses must have a Food Safety Program on site. Class 3 food businesses must have the Minimum Record sheets.
A Food Safety Program is a written plan that describes how a food business will control, monitor, and manage food safely and includes relevant records to verify this. Download a Food Safety Program template.
Minimum Record sheets are a simplified version of a food safety program. These record sheets are available from the Department of Health.
Food safety supervisor
Class 1 and 2 food businesses must nominate a person to be their Food Safety Supervisor. This person must have a Certificate or Statement of Attainment against the required competencies from a Registered Training Organisation. Class 3 and 4 food businesses are exempt from this requirement. Further information is available from the Department of Health.
Do Food Safely – free online food safety learning program
The Department of Health has developed a free online learning program for people who are either currently or considering working in the food industry. The online training program is informative and includes six topics on food safety and a final quiz. Participants who score more than 90 percent on the quiz are awarded a certificate. If you are interested you can complete the free online Food Safety Learning Program. This training does not satisfy the requirement for a qualification as a Food Safety Supervisor.
Council’s Environmental Health Officers carry out the following duties:
- Inspect food premises to ensure food is prepared and sold in a safe manner
- Conduct food sampling
- Investigate food related complaints
- Conduct food recalls
- Seize potentially unsafe food to prevent its sale.
Complaints relating to the operation of a food business or alleged food poisoning within our Shire can be lodged via an Online Service Request or by calling Customer Service on 5348 2306.