Here you’ll find information about starting a new food business, classes of food classification, how to register a food premises, buying a food business and other important food premises information.
Starting a new Food Business
A food business is an enterprise or activity involving the storage, preparation and/or sale of food. Under the Food Act 1984, the sale of food also includes those businesses that do not charge a fee directly for the food, but include a fee indirectly as part of another service, for example a Bed and Breakfast.
In Victoria, you cannot operate a food business unless the business is registered with the relevant local Council. Registration must be granted before food is stored, handled, prepared or sold from that premises. Failure to register your premises is a contravention of the Food Act 1984.
Please note that if other services in addition to food are to be provided, such as accommodation, caravan parks, and beauty services, registration with Council under other relevant regulations may be required.
There are four classes of food premises (class 1, class 2, class 3 and class 4). This classification system ensures that the regulatory requirements are matched appropriately to the level of food safety risk undertaken at the respective premises.
Premises are those that predominately handle potentially hazardous food that is served to vulnerable groups such as hospitals, child care centres providing long day care, and aged care facilities such as nursing homes and hostels.
Premises are those whose main activity is handling unpackaged potentially hazardous foods which need correct temperature control during the food handling process, including cooking and storage, to keep them safe. This includes most restaurants, fast food outlets, hotels, caterers, delicatessens, supermarkets, cafes and most manufacturers.
Premises are those whose main activities involve the sale of foods not commonly associated with food poisoning. This includes the supply or handling of unpackaged low risk foods, or sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous foods which simply need refrigeration to keep them safe. This includes some convenience stores, fruit stalls selling cut fruit and wholesalers distributing pre-packaged foods.
Premises are those whose food handling activities pose low risk to public health. They include premises selling shelf stable pre-packaged items and whole uncut fruit and vegetables.
For more information on business classification refer to the Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Application to Register a Food Premises (518 KB) (Class 1, Class 2 & Class 3 only)
- Notification of a Food Premises (496 KB) (Class 4 only)
In Golden Plains Shire, all food premises are registered annually from January 1st to December 31st. As part of the registration requirements an Environmental Health Officer will assess your premises on an annual basis to ensure compliance with the relevant standards.
Before opening for business you are required to register with Council. It is firstly recommended that prior applying for registration and the structural fit out of your premises, that floor plans are submitted to Council for review to ensure compliance with the relevant standards.
Once you are ready to apply for registration, you will need to lodge the following with Council:
- Food Act Registration Form
- Applicable registration fee
- Nominate a Food Safety Program (Class 1 & Class 2 premises only) and
- Food Safety Supervisor Certificate (Class 1 & Class 2 premises only).
If you are transferring the registration of an established premises, you must apply to transfer the Food Act Registration before settlement. This is the responsibility of both parties.
Purchasing an Existing Food Premises
If you are considering or have already purchased an existing Food Premises, then a change in the details for the Food Act Registration needs to occur. This can be done by submitting the above transfer form to Council’s Environmental Health Department and paying the nominated fee. If you have not yet purchased the business, it is strongly recommended that you request an inspection of the premises prior to settlement. This will identify any outstanding orders that may exist on the premises, which will ultimately become your responsibility after settlement. The Request for a Pre-Transfer Inspection form can be used for this purpose.
To determine the nominated fee for the premises you have purchased or for more information regarding transfer of registration, feel free to contact Councils Environmental Health Department on (03) 5220 7111.
Food Safety Programs
Class 1 and Class 2 food businesses are required to have a Food Safety Program (FSP) to assist them in the operational procedures associated with food safety. These food premises must have a copy (either hard copy or electronic) of their food safety program on the premises at all times for assessment.
Class 1 premises must have a Food Safety Program that is tailored specifically for the food premises (known as an “independent” or “non-standard” program). Your Food Safety Program must be audited annually by a Third Party Auditor.
For new premises, you must ensure a Third Party Audit of your Food Safety Program is undertaken within the first three months of opening.
All audit reports are required to be lodged with Council 14 days after the audit certificate has been issued. Failure to obtain a Third Party Audit will restrict Councils ability to issue and/or renew your registration.
Audits may only be conducted by auditors certified by the Register Accreditation Board Quality Society of Australia (RABQSA) and who are approved by the Department of Health and Human Services for the health sector. For a current list of Department of Health and Human Services approved third party auditors, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.
The ‘Food Safety Program template for class 2 retail and food service businesses no. 1 version 3.’ is the latest and most common template used for class 2 food premises in Victoria. This FSP template is available for free in electronic form from the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Alternatively, you can purchase a durable hard copy from the SAI Global website.
Food Safety Supervisors
Class 1 and Class 2 establishments must have a qualified Food Safety Supervisor within their business.
A Food Safety Supervisor is a person within your food establishment who:
- Knows how to recognise, prevent and alleviate the hazards associated with the handling of food at or from that premises.
- Has acquired an appropriate food safety competency standard for the premises.
- Has the ability and the authority to supervise other people handling food at, or from the premises and ensure that the handling is done safely.
To ensure your nominated Food Safety Supervisor has met an appropriate food safety competency standard, refer to the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Food Training for Employees
Proprietors of a food business must ensure that all staff undertaking or supervising food handling operations have the skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene for the work they do.
An online food training program has been developed by the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that food handlers have the skills and knowledge for responsible food handling. To undertake the free course, please click here.
Streatrader is an online system for traders to register and notify their temporary food stalls, mobile food premises, food vending machines and water transport vehicles in Victoria.
To legally operate the above food businesses in Victoria, you must:
- Register or notify your temporary and mobile food premises with your "Principal Council" in order to operate anywhere in Victoria.
- Lodge a statement of trade (SOT) to let all relevant Councils know where and when you will be trading in their districts.
To register, notify or lodge a SOT for your temporary or mobile food business, please visit the Streatrader website.
Food Poisoning and Complaints
If you suffer an illness after consuming food or drink, and you think the illness is related to food that has been purchased or eaten:
- See your doctor
- Write down what food and drink you have consumed in the 3-5 days prior to first symptoms
- Think about contact you have had with friends and family with similar symptoms. (Symptoms of food poisoning are similar to those of viral illnesses)
- Contact Council’s Environmental Health Department.
If you believe that you have purchased food that has been contaminated and/or is unsafe, then please contact Council’s Environmental Health Department as soon as possible.