Department of Health

Animation about how to start a food business: Restaurant

  • 02 September 2020
  • Duration: 3:44
Opening a café or restaurant is an exciting endeavour. It’s important to be aware of the many considerations and steps involved before you can start selling your food.

In selecting a location, you may decide to take over an existing premises, or build from scratch. Regardless, you need to take your time to plan and ensure that your food business meets all the requirements.

The Victorian Food Act sets out the rules to ensure food for sale in Victoria is safe to eat. Knowing the rules that cover how to safely handle, prepare and store different types of food for sale is essential.

A good place to start is to visit the Department Of Health and Human Services website, where you can find a range of relevant information about key considerations to be made when starting a food business.

An existing premises may look like it’s ready, especially if a restaurant has occupied it in the past, but it may not suit your needs.
For example, storage and cooking areas might be small, and not able to accommodate your proposed output of food.

In order to start your food business, it will need to comply with the Food Act, and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards code.

Once you know a little more about what to expect when starting a food business, it is a good idea to get in touch with your local council. By calling or visiting the council, you can talk to an Environmental Health Officer – an EHO – who can guide you through the safety considerations.

It is recommended you discuss your processes with the EHO to ensure your restaurant meets all the legal requirements from the beginning, and you may save yourself time and money in the long run.
Your council EHO is a valuable and knowledgeable resource, and can give you helpful feedback.

Preparation is a key factor when starting a food business. Being organised from the start by doing multiple tasks at the same time will mean you’ll be able to open your business without unnecessary delays.

Allow yourself plenty of time in case things take longer than expected. It’s always better to be patient and do it properly, to make sure you meet all the requirements of the Food Act and The Code.
Depending on the type of food you would like to sell, you may need to develop a food safety program, which details the ways you will minimise the hazards and risks in the food you produce for sale.

You may also need to need to obtain a Food Safety Supervisor certificate, which shows you have the required food safety competencies from a registered training organisation. This can be you or a senior staff member. The Department’s website has further information about how to obtain these certificates.

It is also important that all your food handlers have the necessary food handling knowledge before they start. A good resource is the Department’s free online food handling training program, called DoFoodSafely.

If everything is compliant, the premises is approved and registered to open.
As a fixed premises, the council will conduct annual inspections to make sure the food you sell is handled safely. It is your responsibility as the food proprietor to ensure you comply with the Food Act and Food Standards Code.

Your EHO keeps a record of any breaches or non- compliances, so it’s vital to maintain the highest possible level of food safety at all times, especially for the safety of your customers.

Additionally, all staff need to be fully aware of food safety. This also includes food allergens, which are a critical aspect when handling food. Go to the Department’s website for more information about allergens.

It is the food business's responsibility to ensure that the food sold is safe to eat and free of any contamination.  After all, serving safe food is great for your customers, and it’s great for you.

Reviewed 18 October 2021