Food and beverage business
Starting or taking over a food business
Whether you are taking over an existing food business or starting from scratch there are a few things you need to consider first:
- Does the property have the correct consent in place? Is it approved to be a food business?
- Are you planning to renovate or make changes to the food/drink preparation areas?
- What kind of foods are you intending to prepare and serve? Are the facilities adequate for what you are intending to do?
- What hours are you planning to operate the business?
To check all of the above you should contact the property landlord, estate agent or you can phone Council’s Duty Planner on 9391 7000. You may need to submit a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) for access to some of the Council’s information.
Development approval - constructing/renovating
For all new food premises and any existing food business that you want to renovate, development consent is required before you start any building work or renovations. If you are unsure whether you are required to submit a development application or a complying development certificate, contact Council’s Duty Planner on 9391 7000.
Please note that ANY changes whether minor or otherwise to a food or drinks preparation area cannot be considered as exempt development. See State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the Codes SEPP) for more information.
Contact Sydney Water to discuss requirements for trade wastewater fixtures/installations. Most food businesses will require a grease trap to be installed. A grease trap is designed to stop the flow of solid food waste, oils and other substances into the sewer lines where they can cause blockages and major damage. Sydney water can be contacted on 13 14 50.
Please note Home Based Food Businesses are not permitted within the residential zones of Woollahra local government area.
Food business registration
It is an offence to operate a food business without consent. When a food business opens up or changes owners in the Woollahra Local Government Area, under the Food Act 2003, Council must be notified. Failure to notify prior to opening and operating your food business may result in enforcement action being taken against you.
To notify Council of a new food premises or to update details relating to an existing food business, please complete and submit the Food Business Registration Form.
Once your registration form is submitted to Council you will be contacted by Council’s Food and Health Officer to arrange an inspection. This must be completed to check that the premises and food handling practices are compliant and safe. Once deemed compliant and approved you should be able to commence trading.
Fees for registration of a food business may apply, please see Council’s Fees and Charges for more information on registration and inspection fees for businesses.
Before you begin trading you will need to contact Council’s Food and Health Officer to arrange an inspection.
The Food and Health Officer will be checking for compliance with the following:
Ensure you have nominated a food safety supervisor and have your certificate onsite. The NSW Food Authority website has further information on Food Safety Supervisors and links to training organisations offering the course.
Your business will also be subject to routine inspections throughout the year. The frequency of these inspections are based on risk and past compliance history. Each food business will receive at least one unannounced routine inspection per financial year. This may be carried out at any time while the business is in operation (either during preparation or while open and serving to the public).
An inspection report will be provided to you at or soon after the inspection has been completed. This report will highlight any areas of non-compliance and list directions for how to rectify these. The report will also contain a score which is derived from the total number of non-compliances observed and the allocated weight (based on severity). For further information and access to the Food Premises Assessment Report visit the NSW Food Authority website for retail inspections.
Fees may be charged for inspections, see Council’s Fees and Charges for more information.
Council officers authorised under the Food Act 2003 have right of entry into all premises where food and drinks are being prepared, stored, handled for sale. Any person who obstructs, hinders or intimidates an authorised officer in the course of their duties is committing an offence under the Act.
Enforcement upon inspection failure
During inspections if non-compliances are observed and total number of points allocated is above 15, this is considered to be a filed inspection. Depending on the score and which areas were non-compliant a number of enforcement actions may be taken including:
- Re-inspection: The inspecting officer will advise in the report if a re-inspection is required and the date it will be carried out.
- Warning Letter: A warning letter may be issued to you following the primary or the re-inspection if continued non-compliance is observed.
- Improvement Notice: A statutory enforcement tool which will set clear directions to be compiled with by a specified date.
- Prohibition Order: May be issued when major non-compliance presenting risk to public safety is observed or when an Improvement Notice has not been complied with in the specified timeframe.
- Commence Legal Action: This may occur in cases of ongoing non-compliance, failure to comply with a Prohibition Order or in case of obstructing or intimidating an authorised officer.
- Penalty Infringement Notice: PIN (a fine) may be issued for non-compliance with the Food Standards Code.
- Seizure Notice: Officers may seize food, equipment, vehicle, packaging or any other thin associated with the food business that is evidence or does not comply.
Temporary food stall registration
If you intend to operate a temporary food stall/market food stall/mobile food van within Woollahra Local Government Area or need to update details relating to an existing temporary food stall, please complete and submit the Registration and request for Inspection of Temporary Food Premises form.
If you are based outside of the Woollahra Municipality and are intending to trade at an event or market in the area the organisers will need to collect some business information from you. This will include the registration details from the Council where your business is based. Council’s Food and Health officer may also request further information such as copies of recent inspection reports.
Any inspections of temporary food stalls or mobile food vans will be carried out to check compliance with the Food Act 2003, the Food Regulation 2015 and the Food Standards Code. Useful guides on how to comply can be found on the NSW Food Authority website for Mobile Food Vendors and Markets and Temporary Events.
The main things to consider when packing or preparing for temporary or mobile operation are:
- Adequate ceiling, floors and walls to protect food and services
- Adequate hand washing facilities; this means warm running water, liquid soap and paper towels.
- Separate facilities for dishwashing and sanitising (if washing on-site)
- Adequate refrigeration or cold holding units with ice that can maintain temperatures below 5oC, and hot holding units to maintain temperatures above 60oC (unless implementing the 2hr/4hr rule).
- Providing a probe thermometer for checking temperatures
- Having a food grade sanitiser on site for use on food contact surfaces and preparation benches.
Footway dining approval
Council supports and encourages footway dining as a means of creating a vibrant activated streetscape, fostering community and creating opportunities for businesses to grow and prosper.
The NSW Government has made changes to streamline the approval process for outdoor dining during a trial period from 1 December 2020 to 31 December 2023. During this time, food and beverage businesses are not required to apply for development consent. However, a footway dining approval is required from Council under section 125 of the Roads Act 1993.
To ensure food safety and public health within our local government area Council’s Food and Health Officer conducts routine inspections, assists businesses with setting up and responds to complaints from the public. Compliance is checked with the Food Act 2003, the Food Regulation 2015 and the Food Standards Code.
While there is only a requirement for one person in the business to have completed the Food Safety Supervisor Course, there is a requirement for all food handlers to have adequate skills and knowledge.
You can view a short video that highlights the key elements for ensuring food safety on the NSW Food Authority website.
It is important that businesses are maintaining foods at the correct temperatures to ensure their safety. This means ensuring fridges are holding cold foods below 5oC and freezers are keeping foods frozen solid.
Where cooked foods are being held hot they should be kept at above 60oC until served and eaten.
When re-heating Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF) ensure they reach a temperature above 75oC to destroy food borne pathogens.
Foods in storage must be adequately protected from pests and contamination. Using food grade sealable containers is the best way to protect foods.
Raw potentially hazardous foods such as chicken, meats and seafood should be stored on the lowest shelves or separately from cooked and other ready to eat foods.
Potentially hazardous foods in storage should also be date labelled to allow for effective stock rotation and reduce food wastage.
The NSW Food Authority has developed a factsheet with more information for food grade packaging.
Cleaning and sanitising
A food premises including its fixtures and fittings must be kept in a clean condition free of garbage, dirt, grease, food waste and other matter.
All equipment and utensils that touch food must be sanitised after washing. Everything from spoons and forks to meat slicers and mixing bowls must be washed and then sanitised. This means applying either heat (through a commercial dishwasher reaching approx. 82oC) or using a chemical solution.
Approved chemical sanitisers include:
- Chlorine based products (such as diluted bleach)
- Quaternary Ammonium based products
- Alcohol based products
- Other products may be acceptable where the product is known to be food safe and there has been adequate lab testing to show the required log reduction in common food borne pathogens.
Food handlers must observe good hygiene while handling food for the business. Regular hand washing and/or glove changing is required to help ensure food safety.
Staff MUST wash hands thoroughly whenever:
- Commencing or returning to work
- Returning from the bathroom
- Finished eating, smoking or other breaks
- Handling rubbish
- Touching nose, mouth, face or hair
- Finished handling chemicals
- Handling raw then ready to eat foods
- There is the likelihood of contaminating food or food equipment and surfaces
Food handlers and service staff should not be working if they are ill and experiencing symptoms of flu/cold virus or gastro symptoms.
Food businesses must implement all practicable measures to prevent pest entry and harbourage within the premises. This can be more challenging in older buildings or at certain times of the year, however there are some simple and budget friendly ways to eliminate pests from your premises:
- Regular and thorough cleaning – pests will enter in the search of food, emptying waste bins and cleaning daily can help to prevent pests entering.
- Protecting foods – covering and protecting foods in sealed containers will also prevent pests entering the premises and contaminating foods
- Seal holes, gaps and cracks – possible entry points for pests throughout the building should be sealed. Also inside the kitchen and storage areas in walls, ceilings and below benches etc, this will eliminate nesting areas also.
- Remove cardboard from the premises – cockroaches will often stowaway in deliveries and love to lay their eggs in the baffles of cardboard boxes.
The Food Standards Code lays out clear rules regarding the areas where live animals are prohibited from food premises. No live animals (with the exception of seafood and shellfish) are permitted in areas where food is handled.
Recent trends have seen more cafes, pubs and restaurants allowing dogs into their outdoor areas. This is permitted only when the outdoor drinking and dining areas comply with the requirements of Food Standards Code 3.2.2 – Division 6 – Part 24 (3 and 4). The outdoor area must not be enclosed (ie. has a ceiling or roof and walls or windows) and must be able to be entered without passing through an enclosed area. Full details can be found in the Food Safety Practices and General Requirements Standard.
Woollahra Municipal Council has also developed a poster for food businesses who wish to help educate dog owners on the law regarding where dogs are not permitted. It is not a requirement for food businesses to display these posters however they can be provided upon request.
Please be advised that registered assistance animals such as guide dogs are exempt from the above provisions and are permitted in any area of a premises where customers are allowed. See the NSW Food Authority factsheet or the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 for more information.
Allergen awareness is the responsibility of all food businesses and their staff. Providing adequate information to consumers and implementing safe food handling practices can help to ensure your customers are protected.
To find out more about your responsibilities when it comes to allergen awareness visit the NSW Food Authority page on Allergies and Intolerances.
You can also access free online training for you and your food handling/service staff at Food Allergy Aware.
You can check out Council’s Food Businesses Information Guide for further information.