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Cafes, restaurants and retail outlets

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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.

Supermarkets, delis, greengrocers and coffee vendors that sell food, now have until 8 December 2024 to comply with new food safety requirements, introduced under Standard 3.2.2A of the Food Standards Code. The requirements are outlined in each of the sections below, as well as in our PDF guideline:

See also:

Notification

Cafés, restaurants and similar retail food outlets need to notify the local council of their business and food activity details. How you notify your details will depend on the council. It may involve applying for a service, permit or approval, or completing a food business notification form. Checking their website is a good place to start.

Business owners should also contact their local council to check if they have any additional requirements such as planning and environmental approvals.

Food Safety Supervisors

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

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

Supermarkets, delis, greengrocers and coffee vendors that sell food have until 8 December 2024 to comply with the FSS requirement.

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

See Food Safety Supervisors for information on training and requirements.

Food handler skills

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.

Businesses selling unpackaged, potentially hazardous, ready-to-eat food, must also ensure their food handlers have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene under Standard 3.2.2A of the Code.

Businesses can choose how food handlers are trained. They may use or recognise free online food safety training programs, past experience, internal training tailored to suit their own procedures, or courses from vocational training providers.  

Additional training is not needed if food handlers can already demonstrate adequate skills and knowledge for their duties.

To satisfy the food standards, staff only need appropriate skills and knowledge for the tasks they perform. 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 these skills and knowledge as well as to do their regular work.

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

Showing food is safe

Businesses that undertake higher risk food handling need to be able to demonstrate safe food practices under Standard 3.2.2A of the Code.

This requirement ensures the business is actively monitoring and managing key risks related to food temperature control, food processing, and cleaning and sanitising, which are critical for food safety.

It applies to services that process potentially hazardous food into a food that is ready-to-eat and potentially hazardous, and serve it to consumers. “Process” is defined as chopping, cooking, drying, fermenting, heating, thawing and/or washing.

Specific risks must be controlled related to:

  • food receipt
  • storage
  • display
  • transport
  • pathogen reduction (cooking)
  • minimising time during food processing
  • cooling food
  • reheating food
  • cleaning and sanitising.

Businesses can meet this requirement by:

  • demonstrating safe food practices, and/or
  • keeping records.

For more information, including templates for recording keeping, see Showing food is safe.

See Standard 3.2.2A – Frequently asked questions for more information.

Food safety controls

Health and hygiene

Food businesses will still be 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, training food handlers in food safety and hygiene,  

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.

Full requirements are set out in Food Standards Code, Chapter 3, Standard 3.2.2, Division 4 - Health and Hygiene. See also Health and hygiene requirements of food handlers fact sheet (PDF)

Cleaning and sanitising

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

Cleaning and sanitising are two separate and important tasks.  These critical processes 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 (PDF, 425.94 KB) outlines requirements.

Food handling

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

They must be able to demonstrate they have taken all practicable measures to ensure they do not receive unsafe or unsuitable food. This means businesses 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 5°C or below or 60°C or above. 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 (PDF, 221 KB) 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 (PDF, 197 KB) outlines what types of packaging should be used.

For guidance on the storage and display of potting mix, please see the Potting mix storage and display factsheet (PDF, 74.8 KB).

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.

Premises construction

All food businesses must still 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.

Inspections

Cafés, restaurants and other retail outlets will still be 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
  • that there is a certified Food Safety Supervisor for the premises.  

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 and 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

Lightweight single-use plastic bags, and single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers, straws*, plates and bowls arebanned 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.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items (including EPS clamshells, cups, plates and bowls) are 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

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