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Starting a food business

Starting a food business

All businesses that sell or handle food must be registered with one of the suitable registration authorities, under the Food Act 1984.

Who registers food businesses?

Most businesses should register with the council where their business is located or their food vehicle is garaged. This includes businesses such as supermarkets and fish and chip shops.

Butchers and fish mongers

If your business mainly involves meat or seafood processing (such as butchers, boning rooms, and fish mongers), you must be registered with PrimeSafe.

PrimeSafe
PO Box 2057
South Melbourne VIC 3205
P: 9685 7333
F: 9696 5284 
Visit the PrimeSafe website 

Dairy businesses

If your business mainly involves dairy processing or manufacturing, you must register with Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

Dairy Food Safety Victoria
PO Box 8221 Camberwell North VIC 3124
P: 9810 5900
F: 9882 6860 
Visit the Dairy Food Safety Victoria website

Plans approval service

You need to do the following when providing us with plans for a new food business:

  • Download and submit a plans approval application form.
  • Attach 2 copies of the floor plan of the business or kitchen (drawn to a scale of 1:100), and separate plans for any mechanical exhaust systems. All plans must include specifications and details of surfaces, fittings and equipment, according to our Food Premises Development Guide.
  • If you are setting up a food vehicle, download the guide Food Vehicle Structural Specifications.
  • For commercial home kitchen plans, attach a letter outlining your proposed food activity including:
    • quantity of food prepared
    • type of food prepared
    • how food will be transported, if applicable
  • Pay the plans approval fee (for Food Premises Class 1, 2, 3) of $180 with the application. Note: this fee does not cover the Food Act registration.

We will process your application within 14 days of receiving complete plans and specifications. We will then send you back:

  • 1 copy of the approved plan
  • a letter with conditions
  • contact details of the responsible EHO

We advise you not to begin any major work on setting up the new food premises until you receive the approved plan.

Food premises inspections and registration

Our Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will conduct progress inspections during the construction of your food premises to ensure it complies with the Food Standards Code.

Before opening the food premises, our EHO will complete a final inspection. If the premises meets food safety standards, you can then apply for Food Act registration with us.

Setting up a food business at home

If you want to operate a food business from your home, you must register with us and meet certain requirements to ensure your business does not negatively affect your neighbourhood.

Before undertaking any works, you must:

  • call our Planning Department to check if you meet the Victoria Planning Provision 52.11 Home Occupation under the Whittlesea Planning Scheme
  • call our Building Department for advice on building permit requirements for home occupation
  • call to make a time with a Health Officer to discuss your food business proposal, which may require a food safety and risk assessment to determine if an existing kitchen can be modified or if a separate kitchen area is required to comply with the Food Standards Code
  • if you live in a rental property, check that your rental agreement allows you to operate a business from the premises

Once all of the above requirements are addressed and satisfied, then approval can be granted to commence the suitable works to obtain registration under the Food Act 1984.

Alternatively, you can choose to lease a registered commercial kitchen that already meets the Food Act 1984 requirements.

To find out about kitchen availability at Council venues for hire, contact the relevant centre manager.

Food Act registration exemption

A classification system exists to ensure the regulatory requirements match the level of food safety risk at different types of premises. For more information, visit the Food Safety Victoria website.

Class 4 premises exempt from registration

Premises under classes 1, 2 and 3 must register with us.

Class 4 premises are exempt from Food Act registration and simply need to notify us that they exist by completing a Notification of a food premises form.

Apply for Food Act registration

Follow these steps to prepare for food business registration:

  1. Check with our Planning Services and Building Services departments if any permits are required. You must obtain these permits before registering with Health Services. 
  2. Find out who your food business should be registered with. If we are the suitable registration authority, continue to next step. 
  3. Contact our Health Services department for approval before beginning any construction works. We highly recommend that you submit plans of the proposed works to ensure compliance with the Food Standards Code. For more information, see Plans approval service. 
  4. If required, complete a Food Safety Program (FSP). After assessing your plans, our Environmental Health Officer will tell you your food premises classification and whether or not you need a FSP. 
  5. Before opening the food premises, our EHO will complete a final inspection. If the premises meets food safety standards you will be given an application to complete. The relevant fees are in the table below.

Food Act Registration fees

  • Class 1 - Independent Food Safety Program third-party audited - $880 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)
  • Class 2 – Food Safety Program – FSP/FSS - $630 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)
  • Class 3 – low-risk unpackaged foods, warehouses, distributors, greengrocer, sport club canteens - $440 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)
  • Staff employed fee - $22

Renew your Food Act registration

All registered food businesses must renew their Food Act registration each year. We mail out renewal invoices in mid-November.

The business owner must inform us if details have changed in the last 12 months. Once your renewal payment has been processed, the business will be issued with a certificate for the next year's registration.

From 31 December, any food business that fails to pay for their renewal is considered unregistered.

The base renewal fee includes up to 5 full time staff (including owners and proprietors). Businesses that employ more than 5 employees must pay a staff fee, which is calculated on the number of part time and full time staff employed. For the purpose of the calculation 2 part time staff equates to 1 full time staff member. The staffing fee exists because larger businesses take longer to inspect than smaller ones.

  • Class 1 - Independent Food Safety Program third-party audited - $750 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)
  • Class 2 – Food Safety Program – FSP/FSS - $510 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)
  • Class 3 – low-risk unpackaged foods, warehouses, distributors, greengrocer, sport club canteens - $316 plus $22 staffing fee (for each staff member over 5)

Further information

For more information about Food Act registration, see the Department of Health website.