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Cafés, restaurants and retail outlets

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

Retail food business operators should also contact their local council to check if they have any additional requirements such as planning and environmental approvals.

Changes for cafes, restaurants and retail outlets

The advice on this page is current. From 8 December there are new food safety requirements for some businesses.

Notification, licensing

Cafés, restaurants and similar retail food outlets need to notify the local council of their business and food activity details.

Notification is satisfied via applications to local council for services, permits and approvals.

Skills & knowledge

The owners of food businesses are responsible for making sure that all people who handle food or food contact surfaces in their business, and the people who supervise this work, have the skills and knowledge they need to handle food safely.

To satisfy the food standards, they do not need skills and knowledge for other jobs in the business.

For example, someone who makes sandwiches will need skills and knowledge that are quite different to the skills and knowledge needed by someone who does the cleaning.

However, if some staff help with other work when people are away, or sometimes supervise other food handlers, they must also have the skills and knowledge for this other work as well as the skills and knowledge to do their regular work.

For a guide see FSANZ Safe Food Australia Division 2.

Requirements are set out in the Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, clause 3.

Food Safety Supervisors

All cafés, restaurants and retail food outlets need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) in their business if food they prepare and serve is:

  • ready-to-eat
  • potentially hazardous ie. needs temperature control
  • NOT sold and served in the supplier's original package.

The aim of the FSS is to prevent individuals becoming ill from food poisoning as a result of incorrect handling and preparation of food.

To find out where to get training and what you need to do visit the food safety supervisor section.

Premises construction

All food businesses must be designed and constructed to satisfy the requirements of Food Standards Code 3.2.3 – Food Premises and Equipment.

The Australian Standard AS 4674:2004 – Design, construction and fitout of food premises is a method of compliance with the Food Standards Code and is usually a requirement as a condition of local council Development Consent.

If a food businesses is being developed under the provisions of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 the premises must satisfy the requirements of AS4674:2004.

Some factors to consider when complying with the Australian Standard:

  • providing adequate space for food storage and food preparation
  • hand washing facilities must be hands free (ie not capable of being used by hand operation)
  • hand washing facilities must be located within five metres of where food is handled
  • walls must be of solid construction (ie stud walls are not permitted)
  • service pipes and conduits must be concealed within floors, plinths, walls or ceilings or 25 mm from walls and 100 mm from floors and ceilings.

Contact the local council to confirm requirements and local planning regulations.

Food safety controls

Health & hygiene

Food businesses are expected to ensure that food handlers and anyone else on the premises do not contaminate food.

Separate utensils should be used for raw and ready-to-eat products, otherwise all equipment used for raw foods should be cleaned and sanitised before they are used for ready-to-eat and pre-cooked prepared foods.

Food businesses also have specific responsibilities relating to the health of people who handle food, provision of separate hand washing facilities, telling food handlers of their health and hygiene obligations, and the privacy of food handlers.

Food handlers who are ill, particularly with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or fever, should not handle food for 48 hours after the symptom cease.  They should inform their supervisor and not undertake duties that risk contaminating food.

See the factsheet Health and hygiene requirements of food handlers.

Full requirements are set out in Food Standards Code, Chapter 3, Standard 3.2.2, Division 4 - Health and Hygiene.

Cleaning & sanitising

Food premises, including fixtures, fittings and equipment must be maintained in a clean condition and all food contact surfaces be sanitised.

Cleaning and sanitising are two separate and important issues. They help prevent the growth and spread of organisms that cause food poisoning and help reduce the activity of pests.

A food business must also ensure that eating and drinking utensils, and food contact surfaces of equipment, are clean and sanitised. Garbage and recycled matter needs to be stored in appropriate containers.

The factsheet Cleaning and sanitising in food businesses outlines requirements.

Food handling controls

Food businesses need to have measures in place related to receiving, storing, processing, displaying, packaging, transporting and disposing of food.

Food businesses are expected to take all practicable measures to ensure they do not receive unsafe or unsuitable food. This means they must make sure the food they receive:

  • is protected from contamination
  • can be identified while it is on the premises
  • is at the correct temperature when it arrives, if it is potentially hazardous (below 5ºC for cold food or above 60ºC for hot food)

For the storage and display of food, businesses must ensure it's protected from contamination and kept under temperature control.

Potentially hazardous foods must be stored and displayed at below 5ºC or above 60ºC and thrown out if stored or displayed at temperatures between 5ºC or 60ºC for more than 4 hours.

Potentially hazardous foods must be used immediately if stored or displayed between 5ºC or 60ºC for between 2 and 4 hours. If stored or displayed at between 5ºC or 60ºC for less than 2 hours, the food can be either refrigerated or used immediately.

The factsheet Cooling potentially hazardous food provides specific information regarding the correct cooling process for potentially hazardous foods.

Food businesses should only use 'food grade' packaging and containers to store food. If the packaging is made from inappropriate materials there is potential for it to make food unsafe or unsuitable.

The fact sheet Food grade packaging outlines what types of packaging should be used.

Re-usable containers

Some customers may ask you to put food or drink into their re-usable eating or drinking container, e.g. a travel coffee mug. While re-usable containers are good for the environment, food handlers do not have to accept them, especially if they are dirty.


Cafés, restaurants and other retail outlets are regularly inspected by local council officers.

Inspections assess compliance against food safety standards in the Food Standards Code. Most councils use a standard inspection checklist.  The inspections cover:

  • physical condition of the facilities
  • processes for food handling
  • food safety skills and knowledge of food handlers. 

You can prepare for an inspection by doing a self-test using the same checklist that councils use, the Food Premises Assessment Report (FPAR).

For more information on inspections and what to expect see inspections.

Scores on Doors

Scores on Doors is the NSW hygiene and food safety scoring program for restaurants, takeaway shops, bakeries, pub bistros and cafés.

Businesses are provided a certificate to display at the premise's entrance with the result of an inspection.

It lets consumers know how well the business complied with NSW hygiene and food safety requirements.

For more details see Scores on Doors.

Legislation & standards

All cafés, restaurants and retail food outlets must practice safe food handling and preparation to meet food safety requirements.

This includes:

kJ labelling

NSW food laws require larger fast food and snack food chains to display nutrition information at the point of sale.

See: kJs on menus

Single use plastics ban

From 1 June 2022, the use of lightweight single-use plastic bags (bags with handles that are 35 microns thick or less at any part of the bag and are partly or fully plastic) is banned in NSW.

From 1 November 2022, the supply of single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers, straws*, plates and bowls is also banned in NSW.

* Single-use plastic straws may be provided from behind the counter to people with a disability or medical need by businesses who serve food or drinks.

The supply of expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items (including EPS clamshells, cups, plates and bowls) is included in the ban.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the regulator and will monitor and enforce the bans.

For more information Plastics ban NSW