Food Businesses

1. Overview

COVID-19 Update

Stay up to date with restrictions, State Government Advice and DHHS advice.

Information for businesses, including Government assistance can be found on the Coronavirus - Information for Business page.

Council must ensure all food sold within the Shire is safe and prepared in a hygienic manner by individually assessing each food business application. The title of food business in this case applies to all food operations within the Shire, including restaurants and cafes, home food businesses, and temporary and mobile food stalls.

2. Apply to start a food business

To operate a food business in Colac Otway Shire the first step is to contact the Health Protection Unit on 5232 9400 to discuss the operation of the business and to arrange for an Application to Register a Food Business Form to be sent to you with the appropriate fee for the risk classification of the business.

Applications are held to account by regulations in the Food Act 1984, to ensure the safe sale of food to the public.

There are numerous factors that come into consideration when granting a license to sell food, some of which include the type of food being sold, the premises used, the facilities available and access to utilities.

Follow the links below which have further information about establishing a food business and where your food business would fit in the classification system, as well what you need to do to set up a temporary food operation.

Alternatively, get in touch with the Council’s Health Protection team on (03) 5232 9400 to find out more. You can also find out more at the State Government’s starting a food business page.


3. Food business classifications

For a food business to start operating and selling food it must first be classified under the Food Act 1984. The classification is based on the level of safety risk posed by the handling and consumption of food sold within a premises.  Changes come into effect to the Classification system on 01 July 2022.



Food businesses deemed to have the highest risk, where potentially hazardous food is served to vulnerable groups.

Examples include hospitals, aged care facilities and child care facilities.


A food premises at which

(a) any unpackaged potentially hazardous food is handled or manufactured, or,

(b) low risk food is manufactured, for which any allergen-free claim is made

other than –

(a) a class 1 food premises; or

(b) a food premises at which the only handling of unpackaged potentially hazardous food is of

a kind which renders the premises a class 3 food premises or a class 4 food premises or

(c) is a home-based business that produces low-risk packaged or unpackaged foods for which an allergen-free claim is made.

Class 3A food premises

A food premises at which one or more of the following food handling activities occurs:

a.   preparation and/ or cooking of potentially hazardous foods which are served to guests for immediate consumption at an accommodation getaway premises; or

b.  food made using a hot-fill process resulting in a product such as chutney, relish, salsa, tomatoe sauce or any other similar food, that:

  1. is made at home-based or temporary food premises (e.g. a hired kitchen); and
  2. has been heat treated to a temperature of not less than 85°C and then filled and sealed hot into its packaging; and
  3. is acidic (pH of less than 4.6); and
  4. has salt or sugar or any other preservative added.


Class 3 food premises

A food premises at which one or more of the following food handling activities occurs:

a.  the handling of unpackaged low risk food: or

b.  the warehousing or distribution of pre-packaged foods; or

c.  the sale of pre-packaged potentially hazardous food; or

d. the sale of shell eggs; or

e.  offering members of the public a free sample of a potentially hazardous food for immediate consumption if –

1.   that food is, or will be, available for sale at the premises in a packaged form;

(f) the sale of ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food by a community group if –

  1. all of the food is cooked on site with the intention of being served immediately;
  2. the majority of persons involved in the handling of the food are volunteers; and
  3. this activity takes place at the premises for a maximum of two consecutive days at any one time –



Businesses posing little threat to public health, with mostly pre-packaged, low-risk foods, such as confectionary.

Examples include newsagents, pharmacies and bottle shops.


Establishing a new food business

Before planning any new food business within the Colac Otway Shire there are a number of steps you should carry out to ensure you meet all the relevant requirements.

Steps to setting up a new food business
Step 1 – Obtain all relevant permits
  1. You need to contact the council on (03) 5235 9400 and get in touch with relevant departments:
    • the planning department will determine whether you can conduct business at the intended property
    • the building department if you’re intending to change the fit-out or make structural changes, and obtain requirements for staff and public toilets
    • the local laws department for permits to have small signs, street furniture and trade on Council land.
  2. If the property is in a sewered township, contact Barwon Water on 1300 656 007 for a trade waste agreement and grease trap requirements. 

  3. If the property is unsewered, you will need an onsite wastewater management system. If the anticipated waste water is above 5000L/day (averaged over a week) then you need to contact EPA Victoria on 1300 372 842. Otherwise, contact the Council’s environmental health team on (03) 5235 9400, or complete an application to install a septic tank system WW-Application-to-Install-an-OWMS-2022-2023.docx(DOCX, 128KB)   If unsure of your anticipated waste, contact the Council’s Health Protection team.

Step 2 – Application for food act registration

The Council must determine whether your business will comply with the Australian food safety standards. To do this you must:

  1. Complete the Council’s application to register a food business which will be sent to you after an initial phone consultation. Companies and trusts will be required to provide a full ASIC business extract, showing directors and company office.

  2. Submit plans to the Council before starting any works. This will ensure you comply with the FoodStandards Australia New Zealand - Standard 3.2.3 Food Premises and Equipment. Failure to submit plans might result in Council refusing registration.

  3. Pay the required fee

  4. For class 1 and 2 food business proposals, you must:
Step 3 – Assessment of premises

Contact the Council’s environmental health unit at least one week before the intended opening to arrange a final inspection. The inspecting officer will assess the premises for suitability to trade, looking for the following:

  • fit-out completed and compliance with the food safety standards
  • refrigeration units turned on, verifying they are capable of keeping food at required temperatures
  • sanitising chemicals at the premises
  • all fixtures, fittings and equipment installed
  • a suitable food grade thermometer available at the premises
  • the food safety template is available at the premises
  • a copy of your food safety supervisor’s qualification
  • compliance with department of health requirements for smoking signage.

4. Renovating an existing food business

Before renovating a new or existing premises to operate a food business, a proprietor must ensure the premises complies with requirements of the Australian food safety standards.

Steps to renovating a food business
  1. Submit a floor plan of the premises to Council’s health department detailing the fixtures, equipment and working surfaces, together with a description of the types of food to be prepared or sold. This should take place before any renovations start at the premises.

    The Council will respond with a letter, detailing any items you’re required to incorporate into the design. This will save time and money. All premises need to comply with the FoodStandards Australia New Zealand - Standard 3.2.3 Food Premises and Equipment.

  2. The proprietor of high risk food premises must submit to Council a food safety plan, which can be completed using a food safety program template, and also ensure an adequate number of staff have received food handler training before the premises can open.
  3. The Council cannot legally register or transfer a premises until this requirement is completed. Proprietors who operate unregistered can be sued by customers and prosecuted by Council if an unfortunate food event occurs.
    • High risk activities include:

    (a) sous vide cooking, (cooking at less than 75 degrees Celsius) where the food is cooked under controlled temperature and time conditions inside vacuum sealed packages in water baths or steam ovens;

    (b) 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;

    (c) 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);

    (d) preparation of ready to eat foods containing raw unshelled eggs (unpasteurised);

    (e) preparation of ready to eat raw or rare minced/finely chopped red meats;

    (f) preparation of ready to eat raw and rare poultry and game meats;

    (g) 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;

    (h) any other complex food process activity such as:

    (i) pasteurisation/thermal processing, where food is heated to a certain temperature for a specified time, to eliminate pathogenic organisms;

    (ii) 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;

    (iii) 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.


Registration is valid for 12 months and the renewal application must be made in the month before registration expires. For further information, contact the Council on (03) 5232 9400.

5. Home-based food business

Preparing or storing food in home or domestic kitchens which you sell to the public is considered a food business. This means you require registration with the Council and must meet legislative requirements of the Food Act 1984.

The Council uses the Food Act 1984 when determining a proposal for a home-based food business. Stringent safety requirements and regulations on equipment and buildings means there are many things to consider in applying for a home-based food business. Some of these include kitchen fit-outs, water supply, waste water disposal, food storage and transportation, and sanitisation.

For general guidelines on the requirements of a home-based food business, please refer to the Council’s setting up a home-based food business guide -  Home-based-business-info.pdf(PDF, 236KB)

Alternatively, contact the Council’s health protection team on (03) 5235 9400 for further information.

6. Temporary and mobile food operators, including community groups

Anybody wanting to operate a mobile food van or temporary food premises must register with Streatrader, an online registration tool for businesses and community groups selling food from a food stall, truck, van or cart.

To ensure food offered at street stalls, festivals and events is safe for human consumption, it’s important every person involved in food preparation, packaging and storage understands and complies with Council’s guidelines.

Perishable foods are those that can spoil quickly and support the growth of harmful bacteria likely to cause food poisoning. Examples of perishable foods are:

  • milk and milk products, including custard, cheese, cream and yoghurt
  • cakes with cream fillings
  • meat, poultry and fish
  • sandwiches containing meat, eggs or mayonnaise
  • cooked rice and casseroles.
  • pies, pasties or sausage rolls.

Council recommends the sale of non-perishable foods, however perishable foods can be sold if appropriate temperature control measures in place, such as:

  • storing cold food below 5 degrees celsius, either on ice or in a refrigerated container.
  • keeping hot food above 60 degree celsius after cooking, either in a pie warmer, bain-marie or on a gas burner.

Foods, such as cakes or trays of biscuits, must be kept covered.

7. Street food stall or events

Please take a look at the following resources for further information on operating a street food stall or event:

In addition, please note the move from Streadtrader to Foodtrader in July 2022

The Food Safety Unit at the Department of Health has co-designed FoodTrader which will replace Streatrader for the registration of all temporary or mobile food business as of July 2022.

At this point in time, these changes will only affect temporary and mobile food premises.  Further information can be found in the attached document.

How will this occur?

Once FoodTrader is live, all visitors to the Streatrader site will be redirected to the new tool and your business will receive an invitation to join FoodTrader via a web link.

The FoodTrader web portal will support and guide you to setup your account using your existing email address. Once completed, all your current and temporary premises details will be available to you via the portal.

If you require any support, you can contact the dedicated team at the department which will be provided to you. These contact details will be on the new FoodTrader website.

Mobile food vans

Structural standards required to fit a kitchen in a mobile food vehicle are dependent on the nature of the food business, potential risk factors and frequency of use. A complete list of structural requirements can be found in the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Premises and Equipment legislation.

In general, the food van proprietor must display their name and contact details on the vehicle and ensure this is maintained in a readable condition.

The following requirements apply to mobile food premises where food and beverages are prepared and offered for sale:

  • all fittings, equipment and utensils must be constructed of impervious (waterproof) material capable of being easily cleaned
  • a minimum of one sink supplied with hot and cold water for cleaning utensils and equipment used in the preparation of food.
  • a dedicated hand wash sink supplied with hot and cold potable (drinkable) water, liquid soap and paper towel
  • water heating devices such as urns, kettles or similar are not acceptable
  • a waste water holding tank is provided for water from sinks and hand basin
  • adequate mechanical ventilation provided above cooking appliances
  • adequate refrigeration to ensure cold foods are stored at or below 5 degrees celsius and frozen foods at or below minus 15 degrees celsius
  • hot food holding devices, such as bain-maries, must keep food above 60 degrees celsius.

For more information about operating a mobile food van, see the State Government’s food safety page on mobile food premises.

If you want further information on food safety or operating a mobile or temporary food outlet, contact the Council’s health protection team on (03) 5232 9429. For more information on starting a food business, visit the Starting a Business page of our website.