Department of Health

Starting a food business - what you need to know

Key messages

  • Any business or group selling food must be registered or notified with their registering council.
  • All food businesses are classified by their local council according to the food safety risk undertaken at the premises.
  • All businesses selling food or drink in Victoria must have a Food Act 1984 (the Act) registration from their registering council before trading.
  • Mobile and temporary premises can apply to their council online via the department's online portal called Streatrader.

The class of your food premises determines what requirements you will need to meet before registration will be granted by council. A food business is an enterprise or activity involving the sale of food.

All food businesses must contact their local council before starting up. Your council will let you know:

  • your registration requirements and any associated fees
  • your food business class (1, 2, 3A, 3 or 4)
  • if you are required to have a food safety program and a food safety supervisor.

Under the Act, most businesses operating in Victoria cannot sell food to the public unless they register as a food business with their local council.

A small number of businesses do not need to register with their council. However, they must notify their local council of their intended food business activities.

Food business classification

Councils classify every food premises within their municipal districts. Classification is determined by the food safety risk of the premises. Your registering council will determine the classification of your premises in accordance with the Act.

See the related webpages on food business classification for more information.

Food business registration and notification

If you need to register as a food business, your local council will charge a food business registration fee and you will need to renew your registration every year.

Please note that class 4 businesses notifying their council will not be charged a fee.

Temporary and mobile food premises

Temporary and mobile food premises are required to use Streatrader to manage their food business registration and activities.

PrimeSafe

If your business primarily sells, transports or prepares meat or seafood (such as a butcher or fishmonger), then you must register with PrimeSafe.

If you operate a meat or seafood business within a premises that sells other food (such as a supermarket), you will need to be registered under the Act with your local council and comply with the Victorian Standard for the Hygienic Production of Meat at Retail Premises (March 2006), which can be obtained from PrimeSafe.

Dairy Food Safety Victoria

If your business primarily wholesales, makes, transports or prepares dairy products (such as milk or cheese products) then you must be registered with Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

Food safety programs and supervisors

Table 1 outlines the requirements for food safety programs and food safety supervisors for each food business class.

Table 1: Food safety program and food safety supervisor requirements for each food business class

Food business class

Food safety supervisor

Food safety program

Class 1

Yes

Yes

Class 2

Yes

Some - food services and retail food premises that undertake any one or more of the eight high-risk food handling activities and all food premises registered as manufacturers must have a food safety program.

Class 3A Yes No

Class 3

No

No

Class 4

No

No

Community groups undertaking food related fundraising activities are not required to have a food safety supervisor regardless of their food classifications. See related webpages about community group requirements or contact your council if you have any questions.

See the related webpages on food safety programs, or contact your council if you have any questions.

The eight gazetted high-risk activities

Class 2 food services and retail food premises are now exempt from the requirement to have a food safety program unless they are undertaking any of the following eight high-risk food handlings activities.

  1. Sous vide cooking, (cooking at less than 75 °C) where the food is cooked under controlled temperature and time conditions inside vacuum sealed packages in water baths or steam ovens.
  2. Any potentially hazardous food that does not involve temperature control to minimise the growth of pathogenic or toxigenic organisms as described in Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2.
  3. Preparation of acidified/fermented foods or drinks that are ready to eat and have a high level of acidity required to keep food safe, acid may be naturally present or added or produced by the food (due to microbial activity).
  4. Preparation of foods containing raw unshelled eggs (unpasteurised).
  5. Preparation of ready-to-eat raw or rare minced/finely chopped red meats.
  6. Preparation of ready-to-eat raw and rare poultry and game meats.
  7. Off-site catering where ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food is prepared or partially prepared in one location, transported to another location, where the food is served at a catering event.
  8. Any other complex food process activity such as:
    • Pasteurisation/thermal processing, where food is heated to a certain temperature for a specified time, to eliminate pathogenic organisms.
    • Packaging food where the oxygen has been removed and/or replaced with other gases for food safety or to increase shelf life of the food.
    • Any food processing activity which does not involve the use of temperature control, to minimise the growth of pathogenic or toxigenic organisms in food, as described in Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2.

Business Victoria

If you wish to start a food business, you may want to check the Business Victoria website, which will help you to:

  • work out if you need to be registered
  • get your business premises registered
  • see what other registrations, licences and permits you'll need.

Business Victoria also provides other useful information for starting a business, such as business plans, marketing plans, business structures, and costs and finances.

Reviewed 06 October 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Food Safety Unit

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