It is a requirement that all food businesses in Queensland comply with all requirements of the Food Act 2006, including the Food Safety Standards. The primary purpose of the Food Act 2006 is to ensure food for sale is safe and suitable for human consumption.
Our Environmental Health Officers conduct routine inspections of food premises to monitor compliance with the Food Act 2006 and to help ensure only safe and suitable food is being sold. Officers are also available for advice and assistance in food safety matters.
When you need a licence
A licensable food business is a food business that:
- involves the manufacture of food; or
- involves the retail sale of unpackaged food (café/restaurant, takeaway food bar) and is not a non-profit organisation; or
- is carried on by a non-profit organisation and involves the sale of meals on at least 12 days each financial year.
A food business is any business, enterprise or activity, including charity groups, that handle food or sell food. If you are operating a food business, you may need a licence from Council.
Food premises are any premises, including temporary structures and mobile food vehicles, where food is handled. If you are operating from a food premises, they need to be approved by Council.
Food licences cannot be transferred to a new owner on sale of the business. The incoming operator must apply for a licence.
When you don't need a licence
The Food Act 2006 exempts certain food businesses from requiring a licence. Although these operations are exempt from licensing they still need to comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Standards.
The following food businesses do not require a licence:
- a mobile food premises that holds a current licence issued by another Council within Queensland;
- sale of meals by a non-profit organisation that operates less than 12 days in a financial year;
- production of primary produce under an accreditation granted under the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000 – including meat, dairy, seafood and egg schemes;
- handling or sale of fisheries resources under a buyers licence issued under the Fisheries Regulation 1995, except where the seafood is cooked;
- sale of unpackaged non potentially hazardous snack foods, such as biscuits, cakes, confectionary, nuts and potato chips;
- sale of whole fruit or vegetables;
- sale of seeds, spices, dried or glazed fruit, dried herbs, tea leaves, coffee beans or ground coffee, grinding of coffee beans;
- sale and preparation of drinks including tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol, (other than drinks that consist wholly or partially of fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale);
- sale of ice, including flavoured ice, such as slurpees and snow cones or bags of party ice (manufacturing of ice is not exempt from food licensing);
- providing of meals by a non-profit organisation that are pre-prepared by another organisation and are stored and heated or otherwise prepared by the non-profit organisation in accordance with the directions of the meal’s manufacturer;
- sale of food, by a non-profit organisation, that is prepared as part of an educational or training activity conducted by the organisation involving food preparation, hospitality or catering;
- sale of food, by a non-profit organisation, that consists of low risk food (e.g. fruits, cereals, toast or similar food).
Whilst these business activities are exempt from licensing requirements, they must comply with all other aspects of the Food Act 2006 and the Food Safety Standards.
These businesses may be inspected, and are subject to the same offences and enforcement methods as licensed food businesses. If you have any queries regarding whether you are a licensable food business please contact us on 131 872.
When you are exempt from complying with the Food Act 2006
The Food act 2006 does not apply to:
- the handling and sale of food at a tuckshop operated by a patents and citizens association at a State school; or
- the handling, at a person’s home, of food intended to be given away to a non-profit organisation for sale by the organisation.
Baking a cake at a person’s home to give to a junior football club committee for sale by the committee at a fundraising stall.
How to apply for a licence
To obtain a food licence for either a fixed, mobile or temporary premises you will need to submit an application form with us via one of the following methods:
- Fill in and submit the online form. (Register as an ePathway user, then select 'Health licences').
- Fill in and submit the PDF form: Food business - operational licence application form (PDF).
- Lodge your completed application form and relevant fee by visiting your local service centre, or posting the application form and cheque, or emailing your application form to firstname.lastname@example.org and contacting the Customer Service Centre to pay application fee over the phone.
Please lodge the food licence application at least 30 days prior to operating.
We also offer a Food business - design assessment application. This is an optional service. This application is beneficial if you would like your design assessed against the Food Safety Standards. You will be provided with advice and any additional design requirements for the construction of your premises. Further information is detailed in the Food business - licence application guide. If, after reading this guide, you are unsure about what steps to take, please contact us on 131 872 to make an appointment with an Environmental Health Officer for advice.
Information about footpath dining approvals can be found in the Footpath dining article.
Other helpful information
Selling your food business
When selling your food business that is still operating you can obtain, upon application, a Licensed Business Compliance Inspection Certificate. An application for this certificate can only be made by the current licensee and will not be accepted from a solicitor or third party. An inspection will be carried out and a Certificate of Compliance will be issued to the licensee outlining compliance with the Food Act 2006 and the Food Standards Code, in particular Food Safety Standards 3.2.3 and premise cleanliness.
Obtaining a food licence when taking over an existing premises
When taking over the ownership of a previously licensed food business you must apply for a new licence prior to commencing trade. Council will assess your application and decide to grant or refuse your application. A Council Officer may inspect the premises during this process to assess the suitability of the premises. It is important to remember that once the new licence is granted the new holder is responsible for any outstanding requirements that may apply to the premises.
Renovating or altering existing premises
If you are making structural changes to your premises, you will need to contact Council for advice. You may wish to lodge a design assessment application with Council for assessment. Once you receive your design assessment document, you may make the approved changes. When the work is complete, contact an Environmental Health Officer for an appointment to conduct a final inspection. For more information, phone Council on 131 872.
With an increase in events and festivals in the region, mobile food vehicles and mobile food carts have increased in popularity. Mobile food vehicles and carts are considered to be food businesses and may need to be licensed under the Food Act 2006.
The Food Act 2006 enables an operator of a mobile food vehicle to take the vehicle into any Local Government in Queensland and operate under the one licence. The Local Government in which the van operates may inspect the vehicle and take action against the operator if required.
If you wish to operate your mobile food vehicle or cart by the side of the road or on the footpath or in any other local government controlled area, you may need to apply for an approval under Council’s Local Law. No 1 (Administration). For more information, phone Council on 131 872.
If you want to operate a catering business you will need a food business licence from Toowoomba Regional Council. A food business is defined as catering when you prepare and serve the food to the customer either on-site or at an off-site venue. Simply delivering food to customers, for example pizza delivery, is not considered catering as it does not involve serving.
If you are planning to sublease an existing licensed kitchen, you still need to apply and hold a separate food business licence.
Caterers are required to submit a food safety program to Council for accreditation. Further information on food safety programs can be found in this guide.
If you are unsure of how you plan to operate your catering business, you may wish to speak with a Council officer. To arrange a time for a meeting please contact Council on 131 872.
On-site catering refers to preparing and serving food that has the potential to be hazardous to consumers at the premises where the food business is carried out. Usually the food is:
- of an agreed type;
- for a set number of persons;
- served at a prearranged time;
- for a predetermined cost;
Examples of on-site catering include a:
- wedding reception centre that operates for wedding receptions only and is not open as a restaurant during the week;
- hotel which operates a restaurant where customers can order off the menu, but also has a function room where the hotel caters for events and functions.
There is an exemption for on-site catering businesses that provide on-site catering:
- on not more than 11 occasions in any 12 month period; and
- for fewer than 200 persons on each occasion
On-site catering does not include:
- preparing and serving food at a restaurant, cafe or similar food business that involves the preparation and service of food for customers that order and eat it straight away;
- preparing and displaying food for self-service, for example preparing food for consumption from a buffet at a restaurant.
Off-site catering refers to a business serving food that has the potential to be hazardous, at a place other than the principal place of operation for the food business. If the caterer is an off-site caterer, they would need to be licensed with the Council at the principal place of business.
Off-site catering does not include:
- delivering food under an arrangement with, or on the order of, a consumer, for example, delivering pizzas from a takeaway pizza shop;
- the sale of food from mobile premises or temporary premises, for example, the sale of ice creams from a mobile ice cream van.
If you are transporting food you must advise Council of all the food transport vehicles involved in the catering operation.
The Queensland Food Act 2006 (Food Safety Standards) require that:
- All persons undertaking food handling operations have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety matters (accredited or non-accredited training)
- All licensable food businesses require a food safety supervisor (accredited training only)
Food businesses require a food safety supervisor
All licensed food businesses must have an approved food safety supervisor. The licensee of the food business may be the food safety supervisor and a business may have more than one food safety supervisor. A food safety supervisor is a person who has undertaken training in safe food handling and/or has sufficient experience in working in the food industry. The food safety supervisor needs to be reasonably contactable by us when the business is operating.
You can find information on laws, permits and the Food Act 2006 on the South East Queensland Government Toolbox.
Food business licensees must tell us:
- the name and contact details of the food safety supervisor within 30 days of the licence being issued.
- the name and contact details of any new food safety supervisors within 14 days of the person becoming a food safety supervisor.
- if there is any changes to the contact details of the food safety supervisor within 14 days of the change.
- if a person ceases to be a food safety supervisor within 14 days of the change.
Food safety program
Certain food businesses are required to have a food safety program. All food businesses have the opportunity to apply to have a food safety program accredited. We are responsible for accrediting food safety programs.
A food safety program is a program that assists business in identifying food safety hazards, control measures for these hazards and provides systematic monitoring of food safety hazards. An important part of a food safety program is record keeping. Record keeping assists food businesses in demonstrating compliance with the food safety program. It is important to undertake a regular review of the program to ensure the program is meeting the needs of the food business.
Food businesses that require a food safety program
Section 99 of the Food Act 2006 states which food businesses require a food safety program and section 100 gives the opportunity for other food businesses to have a food safety program. If you are considering developing a food safety program it is recommended you contact us to discuss the requirements for your business.
The Act currently requires the following businesses to have a food safety program from 1 July 2007:
- a food business involving off-site catering.
- a food business where the primary activity of the food business is on-site catering at the premises or part of the premises stated in the licence.
- food businesses providing food to vulnerable persons, for example: hospitals, child care centres, aged care facilities, delivered meal organisations.
If you are considering developing a food safety program, please contact us.
Food safety training
All persons undertaking food handling operations within a food business must have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety matters.
Whether you operate a food business, help out at the school canteen or simply want a more hygienic approach to preparing food at home, you’ll be interested in our free online food safety training course. The training is easy to follow, includes an entertaining presentation as well as interactive quizzes. A training acknowledgment form can be printed upon completion and be kept as part of your staff records.
Food safety tools and resources
Free tools and resources can be access on the Local Government Toolbox website. Toolbox is a result of Toowoomba Regional collaboration with other South East Queensland councils to provide business-related information that is consistent across the region. Resources such as the following, are available:
- Licence applications - Including forms and how-to guides.
- Materials to support compliance with legislation - Checklists, quizzes, fact sheets and links to relevant information.
- Training manuals - Refresh your knowledge and ensure your staff are trained.
Food safety educational campaign - Foodsafe in Seconds
Queensland Health has recently released an educational campaign called ‘Foodsafe in Seconds’ via the Queensland Health website, YouTube, Facebook and online advertisements. View the campaign website now. Food safety topics are based on key food safety issues including:
- cross contamination
- thawing and cooking
- hand washing
Food and personal record search
Food and personnel record search contains only public information.
- Licensee name
- Trading name and address
- Licence number
- Expiry date and any current conditions
Please contact us for the relevant form or for more information.
Liquor licensing: Liquor licensing permits are obtained from the liquor licensing division of State Government. The liquor licensing division is part of the Fair Trading and can be contacted on 07 4637 6000 or by visiting their website.
Footpath dining: If you wish to place tables and chairs on the footpath, you may need to obtain an approval if you do not meet the minimum standards outlined in the local law. For further information, read our footpath dining information page.
Advertising and signage: For further information about whether your outdoor advertising and signs need to be licensed, read our advertising signs information page.
Business registration: Business name registration is governed through Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) is completed via the Australian Business Register.
Local laws approvals: If you intend to operate on the road, footpath or any other Council controlled area you may require a local law approval.
Other departments outside council: Depending upon the nature of your business a number of Government bodies may wish to have an input into your business. For further information please contact the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation on 13 25 23 for a complete list of relevant licensing bodies.
Industry associations: There are numerous associations that assist people in the food industry. Some major associations are:
- Restaurant and Catering Queensland - phone 1300 722 878
- Commerce Queensland - phone 1300 731 988
- Queensland Hotels Association - phone 07 3221 6999
Queensland Health: Queensland Health can provide information about the Food Safety Standards that relate to labelling and food composition requirements. They can be contacted on 07 4699 8240 or visit their website.
Additional food hygiene information: Additional information about food hygiene can be obtained from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ promotes safe food through developing national food safety standards. Contact FSANZ on 02 6271 2222 or visit their website.