Operating a Food Business

If you’re thinking about buying an existing food business or starting your own, you need to know how to comply with existing food laws, including the Food Act 1984.

Before you apply for your Certificate of Registration, there are some things you need to do:

  • Contact Licenses and Registrations at Business Victoria for information and application forms for all relevant authorities, such as local government, government departments and agencies, and water authorities.
  • Call Council's Building and Planning area on 9205 2200 to discuss your premises and/or any construction work.
  • Fill out Council’s Application Form – Food Act Premises(PDF, 262KB), your application MUST also include a copy of your premises floor plans.
  • A Food Safety Program may need to be submitted with the application for registration, depending on the class of your food premises.
  • You should not commence construction work on your premises until you have received advice that your application for registration has been approved. Council's Environmental Health Officer may require the removal or changes to any construction work that has not been approved as part of your application for registration.

This application does not apply to temporary or mobile food businesses.

Once you have confirmation of approval to open your food premises from Council, you must:

1.  Complete a Food Act Registration form

The Food Act Registration form will be provided to the owner once final approval to open your food premise has been granted.

2.  Pay the registration fee

Registration fees can vary depending on your premises classification. The fee will be included on your Food Act Registration Form or alternatively you can contact Council's Public Health Unit for further information. 

3.  Approval can take up to 15 days

You must not commence operation until you are 'in possession' of a Certificate of Registration under the Food Act 1984.

When purchasing an existing food business, Council's Public Health Unit needs to be informed of the change in ownership.

When a food business is changing ownership, registration of the food premises needs to be granted to the new proprietor.

Prior to settlement, the new proprietor needs to provide Council with:

  • a copy of Council's Food Act Registration - New Proprietor / Existing Premises form (including payment) 
  • a copy of the Food Safety Program
  • proof of relevant training.

Please contact Council's Public Health Unit to obtain a copy of the Food Act Registration - New Proprietor / Existing Premises Form.

Pre-purchase inspection

You can request a pre-purchase inspection of the premises before settlement. Pre-purchase inspections are not mandatory, but they are recommended. The inspection gives potential new owners valuable information about the standard of the premises and how to be compliant with the relevant acts and regulations.

Request for a Health Department Inspection(PDF, 200KB)

  • There is a fee of $560.00 for the inspection and report that needs to be paid when submitting the above form.
  • The current proprietor is also required to sign the above form before an inspection report is issued due to privacy laws.

If you are planning on altering the layout of your food business, or changing the type of food to be sold within your business, then you may need to submit additional plans for approval.

Contact our Contact's Public Health Unit on 9205 2200 to discuss your plans.

Food premises registered in Victoria must have a Food Safety Program in place.

A Food Safety Program requires a food business to examine its operations step-by-step, from purchase of raw materials to the sale or service of food to the customer. The program identifies all processes with potential to cause harm to customers and ensures that sufficient controls are in place to minimise risks.

Food businesses can choose to either:

  1. Develop their own independent Food Safety Program which will have to be audited by a certified Food Safety Auditor, or
  2. Use the standard Food Safety Program Template that has been registered with the Department of Human Services.

The templates are available in other languages.

Every food business must provide Council in writing:

  • Full name of their Food Safety Supervisor
  • Qualifications of their Food Safety Supervisor.

If this person leaves the business we must be informed of your replacement Food Safety Supervisor within 14 days.

A Food Safety Supervisor is a person who:

  • has a statement of attainment that shows the required competencies from a Registered Training Organisation, see Food Safety Supervisor Qualifications and guidelines(PDF, 554KB)
  • has the ability to supervise food handling in the food premises
  • has the authority to supervise food handlers and ensure that food handling is done safely, and
  • will ensure that the food handlers know how to handle food safely.

A Food Safety Supervisor can be the proprietor, an employee or a person external to the business, providing they are able to meet the requirements of a food safety supervisor prescribed in the Food Act 1984.

Class 4 food premises are those whose food handling activities represent a low risk to public health. They include premises that only undertake the following:

  • the sale of shelf stable pre-packaged confectionery at newsagents, pharmacies and video stores
  • bottle shops
  • sale of uncut fruit and vegetables at farmers markets
  • wine tastings
  • shops and stalls with packaged cakes (excluding cream cakes), bottled jams or honey
  • sessional kindergartens serving low risk food including cut fruit, and
  • simple sausage sizzles stands, where the sausages are cooked and served immediately (includes sausages, sauce, onions and bread). This does not include hamburgers or other high risk foods.

Please notify Council by submitting the Notification of a Class 4 Food Premises Form.(PDF, 181KB)

To find out what a food recall involves and to see the latest recalls in Australia, go to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

In Victoria, all food premises are required to have a Food Act 1984 registration from their council before selling food. This includes temporary and mobile food premises.

Business operators or community groups wishing to obtain a registration for their temporary or mobile food premises from their local council must apply through a website called FoodTrader.

FoodTrader has been developed by the Department of Health as a resource to facilitate the online registration process for businesses and community groups across Victoria.

What is a temporary food premises?
A temporary food premises is defined by the Food Act 1984 as a structure that is not permanently fixed to a site, this includes the following:

  • tent or marquee
  • market stall
  • sausage sizzle stall.

What is a mobile food premises?
A mobile food premises is defined by the Food Act 1984 as a food premise that is a vehicle. This includes the following:

  • food vans
  • caravans or trucks
  • trailers
  • bicycles.

How to register a temporary or mobile food premise

1. Go to the FoodTrader website

  • Create an account and login.
  • Complete the online application form which will be lodged to your local council for review. You may need to supply supporting documents.

Please note: you may also require a Roadside Trading Permit or Planning Permit from Council. Please ensure you obtain the relevant permits as applicants must make their own enquiries with the appropriate departments. 

2. Approval and Certificate of Registration

Once your registration has been approved and payment has been made, you will be issued a Certificate of Registration. Once you receive your certificate, you can trade anywhere in Victoria without having to register with another Council.

3. Submit a Statement of Trade each time you trade

Each time you plan to trade you need to login to your FoodTrader account and complete a short form called a Statement of Trade (SOT), which will ask when and where you will be trading from your temporary or mobile food premises. Your SOT will then go to the relevant council to notify them of your activities in their area.

Example: Your community group may have a sausage sizzle stall registered with your council. For each sausage sizzle your group does you will need to login and provide the date and location of where you will be setting up your premises.

More information

The FoodTrader website has user guides, free resources and brochures that guide you through the registration process.

For further information on where you can trade and FoodTrader location enquiries, please contact Council’s Local Laws Department on 9205 2200.

Or you can contact Council’s Public Health Unit on 9205 2200 if you have any questions.