All businesses and community groups that sell food in Victoria have a legal obligation to ensure that the food they provide is safe for human consumption.
New Food Businesses
All premises that sell food or drink to the public must register or notify Council’s Environmental Health Unit prior to commencing trade. Other Units including Planning, Building and Local Laws should also be consulted prior to trade to determine what permits are required.
All food businesses are categorised into four classes of premises. The first step of starting a new food business is to determine which class of premises is relevant to the businesses proposed activities. The level of compliance for each class is based on the degree of risk associated with the food handling activities.
Purchasing an Existing Food Premises
If you are deciding to purchase an existing food premises, there are a number of steps involved before a food premises registration can be transferred into a new proprietor’s name.
Before purchasing an existing food business, ensure that the business currently has a Food Act 1984 registration with Council’s Environmental Health Unit. If the business does not have a current Food Act registration then you will be required to apply for a new business registration.
Food Premises Classification and Registration
Class 1 Premises(hospitals, child care centres and aged care services which serve high risk food)
Private water carter transporting water intended for human consumption;
You are a mobile/temporary business
As a mobile/temporary business you are to register with Streatrader and apply with your local council to obtain permission to sell food offsite.
You will be required to create a login (unless you already have one, in which case you just simply fill in your username and password). Once your login details are complete you will automatically enter the Streatrader website.
Streatrader will guide you through the process until you’re ready to lodge your application. For subsequent events, you will just need to log in and submit a Statement of Trade (SOTs).
User guides are available on the left hand side menu to help with the use of Streatrader.
For Community Groups – When creating your login it is best to use a generic email and password so that it can be passed on depending on whom within the group is organising an event.
Applying for a Food Act Registration
Your premises plan must include:
The layout of all fixtures, fittings and equipment; and
Provide a description of materials to be used for surface finishes including walls, floors and bench tops
Indicate locations of waste disposal area, bin wash area, storage areas and toilets.
A copy of your premises plans should be submitted to this office prior to commencement of construction works. An Environmental Health Officer will assess these plans and provide you with advice as to if the proposed plans are consistent with minimum requirements.
Additional approvals may also be required therefore below are some of the other units and organisations that contact should be made with when considering opening a new business. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
Statutory Planning Ph: 5320 5500
Town planning advice including parking and signage.
Building Department Ph: 5320 5500
Building enquiries and toilet requirements
Local laws Ph: 5320 5500
Permits and advice on Local laws particularly relating to advertising signs on footpaths and footpath dining
Rates Office Ph: 5320 5500
To discuss what rates and charges are likely to apply.
Central Highlands Water Ph: 5320 3100
For advice on water supply, trade waste agreements and grease traps
Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) Ph: 1300 300 630
For advice on business name registration
Once plans have been approved from Environmental Health and other organisations, you can commence construction work. After construction has been completed you will need to contact the Environmental Health Unit to organise an initial inspection before commencing trade.
After the registration is processed you will be sent a certificate of registration. Registration is required to be renewed every 12 months from the date of the initial registration and random inspections will be carried out by Environmental Health Officers during the year.
Registering a Home Kitchen
Home occupation food premises wanting to register under the Food Act 1984 often present challenges as many domestic kitchens do not meet the stringent requirements for a commercial operation.
To be able to determine whether or not a home kitchen is up to the requirements of the Food Act there are a number of steps that can be taken to determine this:
Determine what type of food you are wanting to prepare/make/sell
Submit a new business registration form
Provide a detailed floor plan of the kitchen as part of the application, including the layout of all fixtures, fittings and equipment; a description of materials to be used for surface finishes including walls, floors and bench tops; food storage areas; and any bathrooms/toilets/laundry off the kitchen area. An Environmental Health Officer will asses the floor plan with written assessment identifying any areas that may require alteration or improvement.
Once all areas of the kitchen are adequate, contact the Environmental Health Unit to organise an initial new business inspection.
At the completion of the application form, the appropriate fee and initial inspection conducted by an Environmental Health Officer, a registration certificate will be issued providing all the criteria has been met. Trade will then be able to commence.
The Food Act premises construction guideline will provide the necessary information for starting up a food business. Information that you may need to consider prior to operation will include:
Provision of a separate dedicated hand wash basin
Appropriate identification and separation of products and equipment for commercial use and private/domestic use
Meeting the cleaning & sanitising requirements (of the construction guideline)
Appropriate transportation of products
Appropriate labelling of products including a nutritional panel, further information can be found at the FSANZ Food Standards website
Contact Council’s planning, building and local laws to determine what permits you may require from them.
The application form is to be fully completed and returned with required payment prior to opening your new food premises.
Transferring a Food Business
For all transfers of existing registered food premises, an Application to Transfer Form must be completed and returned to Council with the appropriate payment prior to taking over the business.
An Environmental Health Officer will then conduct a transfer inspection to assess the premises for compliance under the Food Act 1984 and Food Standards Code. Follow up inspections will be conducted to ensure all items from the transfer inspection have been remedied.
A transfer of a new proprietor and Certificate of Registration cannot be issues until:
An application form has been lodged and the appropriate fee paid; and
An inspection of the premise has been conducted.
Pre-Transfer Request Inspection and Report
Prior to purchasing an existing food premise, Council’s Environmental Health Unit offers a pre-transfer requested inspection and report. This requested inspection and report provides you with a report on all issues that must be addressed in the current business. This report can be utilised as a bargaining tool prior to settlement and gives you an idea of the workload required at the premise.
To request an inspection and report, the Request for Inspection form must be filled in and returned with the appropriate payment prior to the inspection being undertaken.
Please note: It generally takes between 5-7 working days for the inspection and report to be completed, so ensure you leave enough time prior to transfer for this to be completed.
Note: New proprietors who commence trading without transferring the premise registration are committing an offence under the Food Act 1984. This may lead to enforcement action being taken.
The Victorian Food Act 1984 requires Council to obtain and test a minimum number of food samples to determine if the food produced in the municipality is safe and suitable for human consumption. In addition to routine sampling, Ballarat City Council regularly takes part in regional and state-wide food sampling surveys, coordinated by the Department of Health.
Food sampling can be used as an effective tool to verify the processes when dealing with high risk foods or unsafe practices identified during inspections. To ensure validity of the results, Environmental Health Officers follow specific procedures relating to obtaining the sample, storing the sample and delivery of the sample to the laboratory for analysis. All food samples are taken to a National Association of Testing Authority (NATA) accredited laboratory for various tests.
All food businesses are provided with a written report outlining the results of the food analysis. Follow up inspections are conducted where any food samples are found to be unsatisfactory. Further sampling is then conducted to verify that the food safety risk has been removed and that the food is safe and suitable for human consumption.