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Starting a food business

Food safety for retail businesses

Find my food safety requirements

Starting up a food business brings with it food safety requirements and obligations.

These depend on what the food is, where it is sold, and other factors.

Answer the questions below to find out what the food safety requirements are for your specific type of business.

My food business will be a?

NSW has around 40,000 retail food businesses including bakeries, B&Bs, bistros, cafes, canteens, caterers, delicatessens, health food shops, home businesses, kiosks, licensed clubs, markets, restaurants, mobile and street vendors, and takeaways.

They account for significant employment and economic activity in the state.

Retail food businesses that sell food to the public are responsible for providing safe food to consumers.

A retail food business is one that sells directly to the consumer. This includes food which is prepared in a domestic kitchen (home-based food business) and sold directly to the final consumer.

What type of retail business are you starting?
Manufacturing and wholesaling businesses produce and sell foods by wholesale with a limited or no retail sales business component.
Does your business plan to produce, process, store or transport any of the following?
Manufacturing and wholesaling businesses produce and sell foods by wholesale with a limited or no retail sales business component.
Does your business plan to produce, process, store or transport any of the following?
Approximately 15,000 businesses in the food industry need to hold a Food Authority licence to operate in NSW.

Licensing is used to ensure that a business has the capacity to produce safe food before it is supplied to the market.

Businesses that need to hold a licence with the Food Authority include:
  • eggs – producers (other than small egg farms), graders, processors and storage facilities
  • dairy - dairy producers, factories, stores and vendors
  • meat - businesses that handle, process, pack or store red meat or poultry (other than small poultry meat farms) for humans or animals. Includes retail butchers
  • seafood - businesses that handle and wholesale seafood excl. shellfish
  • shellfish - businesses that cultivate, harvest or depurate shellfish
  • plant products - businesses producing products such as seed sprouts, vegetables in oil or unpasteurised juices
  • vulnerable persons - food service to vulnerable persons in hospitals and aged care facilities
  • transporters – businesses that transport any of the foods above.
Does your business plan to produce, process, store or transport any of the following?
Businesses that import food or food ingredients for retail sale in Australia are considered a food business.

They are legally responsible for the safety and correct labelling of the food sold.
Does your business plan to produce, process, store or transport any of the following?
The NSW Food Authority licences around 1,700 businesses in the dairy sector. NSW has the second largest dairy industry in Australia in terms of farms and dairy production.

Dairy food businesses need to meet food safety and labelling requirements that depend on each specific business type.
What type of dairy business do you wish to operate?
The NSW egg industry is diverse and varied with 34% of all egg production in Australia occurring in NSW. The Food Authority licenses approximately 300 businesses in this industry.

Egg food businesses need to meet food safety and labelling requirements that vary depending on business type and size.
What type of egg business do you wish to operate?
The NSW Food Authority currently licenses approximately 8,000 businesses in the meat sector, including about 60 abattoirs, 350 meat processing plants and 1,800 retail premises (butchers), as well as cold stores and more than 4,500 food transport vehicles.

Meat food businesses need to meet food safety and labelling requirements, that vary depending on the business type.
What type of meat business do you want to operate?
The NSW Food Authority currently licenses around 55 businesses in the sector that:
  • process fruit or vegetables to produce fresh cut ready-to-eat (RTE) products
  • sprout and process seed spouts
  • extract and/or package juice from fruit or vegetables where the juice is not subsequently pasteurised
  • produce vegetables or fruit in oil
  • provide refrigerated storage of plant products
  • provide refrigerated distribution and/or transport of plant products
  • transport food.
Food businesses need to meet food safety and labelling requirements for the specific type of business.
What type of plant product business do you wish to operate?
The NSW Food Authority licenses around 1,900 businesses in the sector.

This includes 150 seafood processing businesses and more than 1,000 businesses that handle wild caught seafood, cold food stores and transport vehicles.

Businesses that need to hold a Food Authority licence include seafood processing businesses and seafood transport vehicles involved in:
  • handling fin fish, crustacea or cephalopods after they are taken or caught, whether the handling occurs on board a vessel or otherwise
  • the processing of seafood, including skinning, gilling and gutting, filleting, shucking, cooking, smoking, preserving and canning
  • packaging seafood
  • storing
  • wholesale
  • transporting, except from retail premises to the consumer or in a vehicle from which the seafood will be sold by retail.
Food businesses in this industry need to meet food safety and labelling requirements specific to the type of business.
What type of seafood business do you wish to operate?

Shellfish

All commercial oysters and mussels produced in NSW are harvested in accordance with the NSW Shellfish Program, established by the Food Regulation 2015 under the Seafood Food Safety Scheme.

For requirements see shellfish cultivation or harvesting.

Vulnerable persons

The NSW Food Authority currently licenses around 1,200 businesses that provide food service to vulnerable persons that includes:

  • hospitals
  • aged care facilities
  • same-day aged care services
  • respite services
  • certain delivered meal organisations such as Meals on Wheels.

To protect the vulnerable in our community such as older persons and people who have weakened immune systems due to illness, NSW businesses that serve food to vulnerable persons need to meet specific additional food standards set out in the Food Regulation 2015 Vulnerable Persons Food Safety Scheme.

For requirements see Vulnerable persons page

Retail meat premises (butchers)

Retail meat premises are butchers that process and sell meat for retail sale. Processing includes:

  • boning
  • slicing
  • cutting
  • packing

For requirements see Retail meat premises (butchers)

The NSW Food Authority and local councils work together at the retail food business level to regularly inspect cafés, restaurants and retail food outlets to verify compliance with the Food Standards Code.

For requirements see Cafés, restaurants and retail outlets

Caterers

Caterers who prepare food in one location and distribute to other sites for service fall under the Manufacture and Wholesalers Inspection Program (MWIP), and need to meet the requirements of a
manufacturing and wholesaling business.

Caterers who prepare food onsite where the food will be served in the same location need to meet the same food safety requirements as other retail food businesses.

For requirements see Caterers

Charities, groups and volunteers

The NSW Food Authority and NSW Government recognise the valuable work conducted by charities, organisations and volunteers when selling or donating food for charitable purposes. Examples include:

  • free sausage-sizzles for junior soccer players
  • school fetes
  • lamington drives to raise money for the victims of a natural disaster
  • selling chocolates to raise money for the Red Cross
  • making food for volunteer fire fighters during a bushfire.

For requirements see Charities, groups and volunteers

Childcare services or day care

Children's services businesses and facilities include long day care, occasional day care and employer sponsored child care. Under food safety regulations, it does not include family day care. For family day care, see Homebased and mixed businesses.

Children's services that provide food as part of their service need to meet requirements in the Food Standards Code and Food Act 2003.

Children’s services that prepare and serve meals, snacks (eg. cut fruit, cheese and crackers), celebration food (eg. birthday cake), food for educational purposes or replacement food (eg. where food supplied by parents is unfit for eating) are covered by these standards.

For requirements see Childrens services

Home based and mixed businesses

Handling food for sale at an address which is also a domestic premises means there are special food safety issues to consider.

Preparing or storing food at home for later sale (including in-kind rewards) is considered a food business. Requirements to be met are the same as for other retail food businesses.

For requirements see Home based and mixed businesses

Importers/Exporters

Importers

Businesses that import food or food ingredients for retail sale in Australia are considered a food business.

They are legally responsible for the safety and correct labelling of the food sold.

For requirements see Importers 

Exporters

The NSW Food Authority can issue export certificates to NSW food manufacturers to facilitate export trade. However, the first port of call is the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Enviornment.

For requirements see Export

Markets and temporary events

Businesses that sell food at temporary events such as fairs, festivals, markets and shows are considered retail food businesses as they sell food to the public, and need to meet a range of requirements.

For requirements see Markets and temporary events

Mobile food vendors who sell food at temporary events should visit the Mobile food vendors section for further information.

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.

For requirements see Mobile food vendors for requirements

School canteens

Food safety in school canteens is essential, particularly as children can be more vulnerable to foodborne illness.

School canteens are considered to be a retail food business as they sell food to the public and need to meet the following requirements under the Food Standards Code.

For requirements see School canteens

Seafood retailers

Seafood retailers need to meet the requirements outlined in the cafes, restaurants and retail outlets section.

For requirements see Seafood retailers

Water carters

Water carting is sometimes the only reliable source of potable (drinking quality, fit for human consumption) water.

Maintaining high quality product free from contaminants is vital because contaminated water is an easy way to cause illness.

Water carters that supply drinking water are a food business and need to meet food standards.

For requirements see Water carters

Small egg farms

Small egg farms are those that produce no more than 20 dozen (240) eggs for sale in any week.

For requirements see Small egg farms

Dairy primary production

Dairy primary production includes businesses involved in the production of milk or colostrum, where the product undergoes further processing for human consumption.

This includes:

  • keeping, grazing, feeding and milking of animals, and
  • storing milk product on the premises at which the animals were milked

For requirements see Dairy primary production

Dairy processing

Dairy processing includes businesses that deal in the packaging, treating, cutting or manufacturing of dairy products, and the packing and storing of those products on the premises where they are processed.

See requirements for Dairy processing

Dairy collection and transport

Dairy collection and transport includes businesses involved in the collection and transport of milk from a dairy primary production business to a dairy processing business, and the transport of milk or dairy products between dairy processing businesses.

See Dairy collection and transport for requirements

Dairy cold stores

Dairy cold stores include businesses that deal in the storage of any dairy product. It does not include a dairy farm, a dairy building on a dairy farm or retail store.

For requirements see Dairy cold stores

Dairy food transport vehicles

Dairy food transport vehicles include businesses that deal in the storing and transportation of dairy product.

For:

  • collection and transport of milk from a dairy primary production business to a dairy processing business, and
  • transport of milk or dairy products between dairy processing businesses

See Dairy food transport vehicles for requirements

Not sure what type of retail business you are?

Please contact our helpline

Telephone (8:30am - 5:30pm AEST on all NSW business days)

  • 1300 552 406 (local call Australia-wide)
  • +61 (02) 9741 4850 (outside Australia)

Email:

Egg producer

Egg producers are businesses or farms that produce more than 20 dozen (240) eggs for sale in any week.

These businesses may also assess eggs for quality (eg. by weight, size) and dry clean dirty eggs.

For requirements see Egg producers

Egg graders

Egg graders are businesses that wash eggs and/or conduct the final crack detection before sale.

For requirements see Egg graders

Egg processors

Egg processors are businesses that manufacture and/or pasteurise egg products including:

  • fresh liquid whole eggs, egg white, egg yolk (pulp)
  • frozen whole eggs, egg white, egg yolk
  • dried whole eggs, egg white, egg yolk
  • salted and sugared yolks
  • scrambled egg mix
  • hard boiled eggs.

For requirements see Egg processors

Egg storage facilities

Egg storage facilities are businesses that store egg products with at least 80% egg white or yolk, or both, or cracked eggs.

It does not include:

  • businesses that store whole eggs or dried egg products
  • businesses that are located on the same premises as a licensed egg producer, processer or grader.

For requirements see Egg storage facilities 

Egg transporters

Egg transport vehicles are businesses that transport egg products with at least 80% egg white or yolk, or both, or cracked eggs.

For requirements see Egg transporters

Meat vans

A meat van is any vehicle used to transport abattoir meat including poultry, rabbit, ratite or crocodile meat as well as others, and products derived from abattoir meat.

For requirements see Meat vans

Poultry product transport

A poultry product transporter is a vehicle that transports poultry product for human consumption.

Poultry means:

  • turkey
  • duck
  • squab (pigeon)
  • goose
  • pheasant
  • quail
  • guinea fowl
  • mutton bird
  • other avian species (except ratite)

For requirements see Poultry product transport

Meat & poultry processing plants

Meat and poultry processing plants are premises where meat (including game meat) for human consumption is processed, treated, boned, cut up, packed, packaged or stored.

This includes raw meat, and the production of ready-to-eat (RTE) and uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM) products such as salami, beef jerky and biltong.

Meat includes:

  • bovine (cow, ox, buffalo)
  • bubaline (antelope)
  • camel
  • caprine (goat)/li>
  • cervidae (deer)
  • ovine (sheep)
  • porcine (pig)
  • soliped (horse) species
  • any bird including ratite (emu)/li>
  • rabbit
  • crocodile

See Meat & poultry processing plants for requirements

Game meat processing plants

Game meat processing plants are premises that process, package, store or otherwise handle game meat for human consumption.

This includes raw meat and the production of ready-to-eat (RTE) and uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM) products such as salami, beef jerky and biltong.

Game meat processing plants receive unflayed carcases of game animals from the field or a game meat field depot and then flayed. Carcasses may or may not be further treated, boned or cut up on those premises.

Game meat is meat intended for human consumption from vertebrate animals (except fish), which are not husbanded like farmed animals and are legally slaughtered in a wild state.

For requirements see Game meat processing plants

Game meat field depots

Game meat field depots are premises that receive, identify, hang, chill/store and dispatch/transport wild game meat and carcases to game meat processing plants for human consumption.

Game meat is meat intended for human consumption from vertebrate animals (except fish) which are not husbanded like farmed animals and are legally slaughtered in a wild state.

See Game meat field depots for requirements

Game meat harvester vehicles

A game meat harvesting field van is a vehicle in which game animals are transported from the point of harvest to a game meat field depot.

This includes vehicles used for harvesting and transporting the following game animals to game meat field chillers (depots):

  • kangaroos, wild boar, goats and deer
  • rabbits
  • ducks

Game animals have the skin or outer covering still attached and are intended for human consumption.

For requirements see Game meat harvester vehicles

Red meat abattoirs

Red meat abattoirs are premises used in the slaughtering of abattoir animals for human consumption.

This includes buildings and holding yards.

It does not include premises used in the slaughter of poultry, rabbit, ratite or crocodile meat.

Red meat includes meat from

  • bovine (cow, ox, buffalo)
  • bubaline (antelope)
  • camel, caprine (goat)
  • cervidae (deer)
  • ovine (sheep)
  • porcine (pig) soliped (horse) species.

For requirements see Red meat abattoirs

Poultry and non-red meat abattoirs

Non-red meat abattoirs are premises used for or in connection with the slaughtering of poultry, rabbit, ratite (eg emu) or crocodile meat for human consumption.

It includes buildings and holding yards.

For requirements see Poultry and non-red meat abattoirs

Live poultry transport

Live poultry transporters are businesses transporting more than 100 birds at any one time from farm to abattoir.

Poultry includes:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • duck
  • squab (pigeon)
  • goose
  • pheasant
  • quail
  • guinea fowl
  • muttonbird and
  • other avian species (except ratite)

For requirements see Live poultry transport

Poultry meat producers (farms)

Poultry meat producers, or poultry farms, are operations where more than 100 birds are grown at any one time for human consumption.

Poultry means

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • duck
  • squab (pigeon)
  • goose
  • pheasant
  • quail
  • guinea fowl
  • mutton bird
  • other avian species (except ratites).

For requirements see Poultry meat producers (farms)

Animal food vans

An animal food van is any vehicle used for the transport of meat intended for use as animal food, including vehicles:

  • fitted with rails from which carcases that have been skinned are suspended
  • not fitted with rails and are used to transport animal food meat in tubs, cartons or plastic bags, or whole carcases (as for a butchers panel van)
  • used to transport animal food carcases that are unflayed and eviscerated, from the point of harvest to a chiller (depot).

For requirements see Animal food vans

Animal food processing

Animal food processing plants are facilities that process, package, store or otherwise handle meat or fish products that are not for human consumption.

This means premises where:

  • meat or fish (or their products) is stored, packed, packaged, processed, treated, boned or cut up, or
  • processed animal food (pet meat) is produced.

For requirements see Animal food processing

Rendering plants

Rendering plants are premises where animal by-products are rendered or boiled down.

This does not include an abattoir or knackery. 

For requirements see Rendering plants

Knackeries

Knackeries are premises used in slaughtering animals for animal food, including all buildings and holding yards.

Knackeries do not include abattoirs slaughtering animals for human consumption.

Knackery animals include:

  • horse
  • donkey
  • camel
  • kangaroo
  • buffalo
  • deer
  • bull
  • ox
  • steer
  • cow
  • heifer
  • calf
  • ram
  • ewe
  • wether
  • hogget
  • lamb
  • goat
  • kid
  • swine
  • rabbit
  • bird.

For requirements see Knackeries

Preparing or storing plant products

Plant products businesses are operations that prepare or store plants for food including:

  • processing (ie. cutting, trimming, slicing, peeling, pulling apart) fruit or vegetables to produce fresh cut, ready-to-eat (RTE) products
  • sprouting and processing seed sprouts (except wheat grass and bean sprouts)
  • extraction or packaging of juice from fruit or vegetables where the juice is not subsequently pasteurised
  • producing vegetables, fruit or herbs in oil
  • refrigerated storage of these plant products.

See Preparing or storing plant products for requirements

Plant products transport vehicles

Plant products transport vehicles are ones that transport:

  • fresh cut (ie. cut, trimmed, sliced, peeled, pulled apart) fruit and vegetables that are still raw
  • unpasteurised fruit or vegetable juices
  • seed sprouts (other than wheat grass or beans)
  • vegetables, fruits or herbs in oil 

For requirements see Plant products transport vehicles

Seafood processing businesses

Seafood processing is all activities, procedures and hygiene controls used in the sale of fresh or ready-to-eat (RTE) seafood products (being aquatic vertebrates such as fish or aquatic invertebrates such as Crustaceans or their products) for human consumption.

This includes:

  • receipt
  • processing, including skinning, gilling and gutting, filleting, shucking, cooking, smoking, preserving or canning
  • storing
  • dispatching
  • transporting, except from retail premises to the consumer, or in a vehicle from which the seafood will be sold by retail./li>

It does not include the handling of live lobsters, crayfish, abalone, crabs or sea urchins, or the retail sale of seafood.

Seafood does not include amphibians, mammals, reptiles or aquatic plants.

For requirements see Seafood processing businesses

Seafood transport vehicles

Seafood transport vehicles are vehicles that distribute and/or transport seafood or seafood products including:

  • aquatic vertebrates (fish)
  • aquatic invertebrates (crustaceans)
  • foods containing their products

They do not include transport from retail premises to the consumer, or transport in a vehicle from which the seafood will be sold by retail.

See Seafood transport vehicles for requirements

Manufacturers & wholesalers

Manufacturing and wholesaling businesses produce and sell foods by wholesale with a limited or no retail sales business component.

For requirements see Manufacturers & wholesalers

Other

Not sure if what you're processing needs a licence?

Please contact our helpline

Telephone (8:30am - 5:30pm AEST on all NSW business days)

  • 1300 552 406 (local call Australia-wide)
  • +61 (02) 9741 4850 (outside Australia)

Email:

Other

Not sure what type of business you are?

Please contact our helpline

Telephone (8:30am - 5:30pm AEST on all NSW business days)

  • 1300 552 406 (local call Australia-wide)
  • +61 (02) 9741 4850 (outside Australia)

Email:

Factsheets and resources

The Food Authority has produced a range of factsheets and resources relevant to different food business sectors:

For more see the resources.

Introductions to the full requirements that businesses need to meet are outlined on the relevant industry or retail sector pages.

Requirements not related to food safety

The Food Authority is not able to provide advice relating to: