Department of Health

Key messages

  • If you are involved in running any type of food business, you need to understand these definitions used by the department.

Aged care service

Aged care service has the same meaning as in ss. 1–3 and schedule 1 of the Aged Care Act 1977 (Cwlth).

Catering event

A catering event means food prepared and/or partially or fully cooked at one location and serviced at another location by the caterer. This does not include catering activity where:

  • the food has been prepared and delivered to an office for lunches or similar events where the food does not require any further preparation such as reheating, portioning or garnishing
  • businesses that do not supply food for the event but provide staff to serve the food at the event.

Children’s service

Children’s service has the same meaning as in s. 3 of the Children’s Services Act 1996 (Vic.), or the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Victoria).

However, it does not include :

  • a school, service or activity to which that Act does not apply
  • a recreational activity, such as a camp or party
  • a service at which, ordinarily, the children attending are entirely or mostly different on each occasion care is provided, such as a resort at which children of guests of the resort are temporarily cared for in the absence of their parents or usual carers

Community group

A community group is a:

  • not-for-profit body
  • person or unincorporated group of persons undertaking a food handling activity solely for the purposes of raising funds for charitable purposes or for a not-for-profit body.

A not-for-profit body means an incorporated or unincorporated body or association that is not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to its individual members.

A not-for-profit body is, by the terms of the constitution of the body or association, prohibited from making any distribution, whether in money, property or otherwise, to its members.

Cooked and held hot

Food is cooked at one particular time and held hot with the intention that the food is served over a period of time.

Cook and refrigerate

Meals or meal components are fully cooked, then subsequently stored at a temperature below 5 °C before reheating or serving chilled.

Cook and serve

Food is usually cooked and may be held hot, with the intention of serving it for immediate consumption.

Food business

A business, enterprise or activity (other than primary production) that involves handling food intended for sale (as defined in the Food Act 1984), or the sale of food.

This is regardless of whether the business, enterprise or activity concerned is of a commercial, charitable or community nature, or whether it only involves the handling or sale of food on a single occasion.

Low-risk foods

Foods that are unlikely to contain pathogenic microorganisms and will not normally support their growth because of food characteristics. Such foods include:

  • grains and cereals
  • carbonated beverages
  • jams and dried fruits
  • pasteurised milk
  • pasteurised or heat-treated soy milk
  • cut fruit or vegetables that are not subject to any further processing.


Food manufacturers are businesses that produce food for distribution beyond the local area – this may include regional, national or international markets. The food is manufactured from raw ingredients, then typically sold to wholesalers or retailers for distribution to the public.

This excludes a manufacturer that primarily sells direct to the public from the premises – for example, a bakery.


A process that kills potentially harmful microorganisms in milk.

Pathogenic microorganisms

Any bacteria, viruses, yeast or moulds that are capable of causing disease.

Potentially hazardous food

Potentially hazardous food must be kept at certain temperatures to minimise the growth of any pathogenic microorganisms that may be present in the food, or to prevent the formation of toxins in the food.

Potentially hazardous foods include:

  • raw and cooked meat, including poultry and game; or foods containing raw or cooked meat, such as casseroles, curries and lasagne
  • smallgoods such as Strasbourg, ham and chicken loaf
  • dairy products – for example, custard and dairy-based desserts (such as cheesecakes and custard tarts) – but does not include pasteurised milk
  • seafood (excluding live seafood), including seafood salads, patties, fish balls, and stews containing seafood and fish stock
  • processed fruits and vegetables such as fruit salads and fruit juices
  • cooked rice and pasta
  • foods containing eggs, beans or other protein-rich foods, such as quiche, fresh pasta and soybean products
  • foods such as sandwiches, rolls, and cooked and uncooked pizza that contain the foods listed above.

Pre-packaged food

Food that has been sealed within a package before entering the business and remains in that package until sale. Packaging is designed to protect the food from contamination by physical, chemical or biological hazards.


Food that is ready for consumption; it includes food that may be reheated, portioned or garnished, or food that undergoes similar finishing before being served.


Retail premises sell direct to the public and may or may not produce food from raw ingredients for distribution within the immediate local area. For example, supermarkets, vending machines, temporary market stalls, bakeries and fresh pasta premises.

Service sector

The service sector includes institutions and businesses responsible for producing any meal for immediate consumption, on or near the premises, including:

  • restaurants
  • takeaway outlets
  • caterers
  • mobile vehicles
  • meals-on-wheels types of services
  • hospitals.

Supported residential service

Supported residential service has the same meaning as in s. 3 of the Health Services Act 1988 (Vic.).

Unpackaged foods

Any food that is not pre-packaged food.


Building where goods requiring dry or cold storage are kept, pending retail distribution to another food premises.

Reviewed 05 August 2022


Contact details

Food Safety Unit

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