Starting a food business

In South Australia, under Section 86 of the Food Act 2001, all food businesses must notify the appropriate enforcement agency before their business opens.

The local council is usually the appropriate enforcement agency so its recommended that business owners contact their local council Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) well before the business opens, to make sure they know what requirements their business needs to meet.

What is a food business?

Under the Food Act 2001 a food business is a business, enterprise or activity, other than a primary food production business, that handles food for sale or sells food, regardless of whether the business, enterprise or activity is one of a commercial, charitable, or community nature, or whether the food handling or sale takes place regularly or once.

The sale of food means disposing of food in any way that’s valuable for the business, including collecting money for the food, supplying a meal as part of a paid service, and accepting donations.

Examples of food businesses include cafés, caterers, church groups, cinemas, food trucks, hotels, manufacturers, restaurants, service stations, supermarkets, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and home-based food businesses (e.g., making and selling cakes).

All food businesses have responsibilities under the legislation to ensure they make and sell safe food.

How do food businesses notify?

Food businesses must notify the appropriate enforcement agency, usually the local council, before they start handling food by lodging a completed Food Business Notification (FBN) form.

Most councils will have a copy of their Food Business Notification form on their website. To find out which council a business is located in visit LGA SA's councils list and map.

If businesses cannot locate their local councils Food Business Notification form, or the food business is not within a council boundary, a completed Food Business Notification form must be submitted to SA Health.

If a food business does not notify the appropriate enforcement agency before starting, penalties and/or expiation fees may apply including:

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

Notification tips

  • There is no fee for notification.
  • If a business has multiple food premises (sites), a separate notification form is required for each site.
  • If there are any changes to the ownership, contact details, location or nature of the food business the business must notify the council of the changes  before the changes take place.
  • Mobile food businesses, such as food trucks, must notify the council where the vehicle is normally garaged and may need to notify councils where they operate.
  • Caterers must notify the council where the majority of the food or equipment is stored and/or handled.
  • Home-based food businesses must notify their local council and are subject to food safety inspections. It is recommended that potential new home food businesses contact the council before setting up the business to make sure their home environment is suitable. Safe Food Australia (Appendix 10) contains information on meeting the requirements as a home-based food business.

What are the legal requirements for food businesses?

All food businesses in South Australia must comply with relevant sections of food safety legislation including:

How often will my business be inspected or audited and is there a fee?

The SA Health SA Food Business Risk Classification document guides local councils on the risks of food businesses and when they should be inspected.

If you’re unsure of your risk classification or inspection frequency, contact your local council EHO. They will also be able to advise you of any inspection or audit fees.

What training do food business staff need?

All food handlers must have appropriate food safety and food hygiene skills and knowledge in line with the work they do. For some businesses this can be gained through induction into a food business, on the job training or may be gained through completing informal or formal food safety training courses.

Businesses captured under Standard 3.2.2A – Food Safety Management Tools, such as cafés, restaurants, supermarkets, mobile food vans, and takeaways, must:

  • ensure food handlers handling high risk unpackaged food complete a food safety training course or be able to show that they know about and understand safe food handling, food contamination, cleaning and sanitising, and personal hygiene
  • appoint a certified Food Safety Supervisor.

The free, online DoFoodSafely training program is an example of a food safety training course and is available in multiple languages. When completed, participants will receive a certificate of completion to provide to their food business.

For information on types of training and access to free training resources, visit the Skills and Knowledge for Food Handlers webpage.

To find Registered Training Organisations that can provide Food Safety Supervisor certification see Food Safety Supervisor certification providers.

What are the requirements for my kitchen or food processing area?

The requirements for the fit out of kitchens are set out in Standard 3.2.3. In general food premises must:

  • Be able to be easily cleaned and where necessary sanitised (including equipment).
  • Be designed, constructed and have equipment installed in a way that protects food from contamination.
  • Have adequate hand washing facilities.
  • Have adequate water supply and wastewater disposal, including for cleaning.
  • Have appropriate garbage storage and disposal, ventilation, lighting and storage for food, equipment and non-food items.

Safe Food Australia provides guidance on how the Food Safety Standards can be applied. Businesses can also speak to their local council EHOs for advice.

What is a primary food production business?

Primary food production means the growing, raising, cultivation, picking, harvesting, collection or catching of food, but does not include where a business undertakes any 'substantial transformation' of food, direct to public sales which is captured under the Food Act 2001; or where the activity is regulated under primary production legislation.

Primary food production businesses don’t need to notify their local council, but for specific commodities, including dairy, meat, eggs, sprouts, seafood, leafy greens, melons and berries, primary production legislation applies. Visit the PIRSA - Food Safety page for more information.

Where a business does both primary food production and activities that are captured under the Food Act 2001, notification to the council is required. Some examples of this include:

  • Fruit or vegetable grower that makes salads (substantial transformation).
  • A farm restaurant, farm-gate sales, or sale of seafood by the catcher to the public (direct to public sales).
  • Packing or treating of food for another business, or where the food has been purchased by that business for packing or treating (offsite packing/processing).

Further information

If you are unsure about your responsibilities please contact your local council or SA Health’s Food Safety and Regulation Branch.