Starting a food business

What is a food business?

Under the Food Act 2001 a food business means a business, enterprise or activity (other than a primary food production business) that involves:

  • the handling of food intended for sale
  • the sale of food

regardless of whether the business, enterprise or activity concerned is of a commercial, charitable or community nature or whether it involves the handling or sale of food on one occasion only.

Food business even includes businesses like the following:

  • chemists
  • cinemas
  • corner stores
  • petrol stations
  • swimming pools

All food businesses, from major food manufacturers to a local church group that holds a one-off food fair, have defined responsibilities under the legislation to ensure the safety of food.

Food business notification

Before starting food handling operations all food businesses are required to notify their local council of their existence including the following information:

  • contact details
  • nature of the food business
  • location of all food premises of the business in that council area.

If a business has food premises in different council areas then the proprietor must notify each of the relevant councils.

If there are any changes to the ownership, contact details, location or nature of the food business they must also be re-notified before the changes take place.

There is no fee for notification.

Mobile food businesses

Mobile food businesses should notify the council in which the vehicle is normally garaged. See Catering and mobile food premises and food safety for more information.

How to notify

To notify, all you need to do is lodge a completed notification form (PDF 67KB) with your local council. If your food business is not within a council boundary, submit your form to SA Health.

Notification forms can also be obtained at your local council.

Failure to notify

Penalties and/or expiation fees may be applied.

Maximum penalty:

  • $120,000 if the offender is a body corporate
  • $25,000 if an individual person

Expiation fee:

  • $1,500 if the offender is a body corporate
  • $300 if an individual person.

Primary Food Production Businesses

If your business is classed under the Food Act 2001 as a primary food production business, you are not required to notify your local council. However, there may be primary industries legislation that applies to your business. Visit the Biosecurity SA website for more information.

However, there are some exceptions, which change the classification from a primary food producer to a food business. If your business is involved in the following activities then you are a food business:

  • sale or service of food direct to the public
  • packing or treating food under contract, or where the food has been purchased
  • other activities prescribed by regulation (none at this time)
  • any process involving the 'substantial transformation' of food.

Definition of a primary food production businesses

Under the Food Act 2001, primary food production refers to the growing, raising, cultivation, picking, harvesting, collection or catching of food. It covers:

  • ‘on-farm and boat’ activities and processes (including other premises which are part of the enterprise),
  • storage of grain in silos not connected with a food processing operation,
  • sale of livestock at saleyards,
  • transport or delivery on, from or between the primary production premises,
  • activities regulated under primary industry legislation recognised by the Food Act 2001, such as the the Primary Produce (Food Safety Schemes) Act 2004 and Dairy Industry Act.

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