Mobile food vendors
Mobile food vendors are considered retail food businesses as they sell food to the public and need to comply with a range of requirements.
Mobile food vendors are those vehicles used for:
- on-site food preparation eg. hamburgers, hot dogs and kebabs
- one-step food preparation eg. popcorn, fairy floss, coffee and squeezing juices
- any type of food including pre-packaged food.
There are minimal requirements for mobile food vending vehicles selling only pre-packaged, low-risk food.
Mobile food vendors and similar retail food outlets need to notify the local council of their business and food activity details.
From 1 September 2015, notification is satisfied via applications to local council for services, permits and approvals, and through rates notice registrations.
Local councils are generally responsible for the approval of mobile food vending vehicles. There may be costs associated with these approvals. Contact your local council for details.
The prior consent of every local council in whose area the vehicle will be used for storing, preparing or selling food may be required. This includes street trading or operating on private land or public roads.
It is important to check the requirements with every local council you propose to work in before operation, as penalties may apply for not having the appropriate approvals.
Council approval may also be required for garaging or maintaining the mobile food vending vehicle at particular premises, especially where the premises are used for storing food supplies and equipment used in connection with the vehicle’s food business operation.
Food safety supervisors
Food businesses operating mobile food vending vehicles may need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) if the food they prepare and serve is:
- potentially hazardous ie. needs temperature control
- is not sold and served in the supplier's original package.
The business needs to ensure an FSS is appointed and the FSS certificate is available in the vehicle before commencement of operation.
Please see the Food Safety Supervisor section of the website for information on how to obtain a certificate.
Food safety controls
Mobile food vendors also need to practice safe food handling including:
- storing potentially hazardous foods at the correct temperature
- avoiding cross contamination
- storing raw food separately from ready to eat food
- keeping food handling areas clean
Further information on what is required is available in the Guidelines for Mobile Food Vending Vehicles and includes a self checklist for businesses, based on the requirements in the Food Standards Code.
Inspections of mobile food vending vehicles are conducted by council’s Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) who are authorised officers under the Food Act 2003.
The frequency of inspection is at least once per year. They check that good food safety practices are in place such as temperature control, cleanliness, hand washing and labelling.
If mobile food vending vehicles operate across council boundaries, most councils will use a home jurisdiction rule. This means the vehicle will probably first be inspected by the council in which the vehicle is ordinarily garaged, provided it also trades in that local government area. That council is known as the ‘home council’.
If the vehicle does not trade in the local council area in which it is garaged, then it can be inspected by another council in which it first trades. Other councils in which the vehicle trades are entitled to request to see a copy of the most recent inspection report (less than 12 months old) from the vehicle operator.
If the report is satisfactory (ie only minor issues identified) the council EHO should not conduct a further inspection, unless there is a perceived risk to food safety and public health.
If a recent inspection report is not provided by the operator, is more than 12 months old, or has a major non-compliance issue outstanding, the council EHO has the discretion to carry out an inspection and charge an inspection fee.
Mobile food vending vehicle operators/proprietors are responsible for organising to have an inspection when they begin to trade, and providing a current inspection report to officers from another council in whose area they trade.
Carry your most recent inspection report with you whenever you are trading from your mobile food vending vehicle.
Skills and knowledge
Mobile food vendors should ensure food handlers have the appropriate food safety skills and knowledge, do not handle food when ill and practice effective handwashing.
Mobile food vendors need to ensure the construction and operation of the vehicle is appropriate for the preparation and sale of food including:
- surfaces that are easy to clean
- handwashing facilities
- satisfactory waste disposal.
Legislation & standards
Mobile food vendors need to practice safe food handling and preparation to meet food safety requirements.
- notifying the local council of their business and food activity details
- potentially appointing a Food Safety Supervisor
- meeting the requirements of the Food Standards Code