Skip to main content

Home-based and mixed businesses

Home-based food businesses can be a hobby for extra income or the start of something much larger. They are manufacturing and wholesaling enterprises but at a smaller scale.

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. 

Examples of home-based food businesses include:

  • preparing food for sale at markets or school canteens in a domestic kitchen
  • bed and breakfast accommodation
  • home-based child care for a fee involving provision of food
  • home-based catering businesses.

Some of the requirements below also apply where the food premises are mostly commercial and people live at the premises, such as restaurants with accommodation for the restaurant owner, family or staff.

It is the responsibility of each food business to understand relevant food safety requirements and comply with them. Some food businesses engage consultants for expert food safety advice and to help them meet compliance obligations.

Notification, licensing

Before starting, make sure your proposed activities are allowed by the local council. Some councils may not approve operations involving high risk foods.

If manufacturing high risk foods, you may also be required to hold a licence with the Food Authority to ensure that your business has the capacity to produce safe food before it is supplied to market, but this will be determined on a case by case basis.

Further information on licensing & notifying requirements can be found here.

Businesses are encouraged to contact the NSW Food Authority at food.contact@dpi.nsw.gov.au or on 1300 552 406 before notifying to ensure the correct procedure is followed.

From 1 July 2018, local councils will regulate all domestic kitchens where food that will be sold directly to the final consumer is prepared.

The NSW Food Authority will continue to regulate domestic kitchens that only sell food to other businesses, such as cafes, restaurants and supermarkets.

When a food business sells direct to the final customer (e.g. from the premises or from a market/school canteen etc.), local councils will regulate these home-based businesses (unless manufacturing high risk foods, see note above). The business needs 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.

When businesses do not retail food direct to the customer (i.e they sell to another party such as a cafe or restaurant to on-sell), they need to notify the NSW Food Authority of their business and food activity details. In some instances, these businesses may be required to be licensed with the Food Authority, but this will be determined on a case by case basis. More information on food businesses that need to hold a licence with the Food Authority can be found here 

All other food businesses need to notify. Which organisation to notify depends on the type of food business.

If any of your details change you need to update them by contacting the NSW Food Authority at food.licensing@dpi.nsw.gov.au or on 1300 552 406, option 2

You need to keep your notification up to date if any details change after you have notified, so it's a good idea to keep your reference number and password.

Notification records are private for each food business, so if you purchase an existing business you need to notify the business again with your details.

Food safety supervisors

Home-based food businesses may be required to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor if they process and sell:

  • ready-to-eat food
  • potentially hazardous food that requires temperature control
  • food that is not sold in the supplier's original packaging.

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

Food safety controls

There are a number of aspects to safe and hygienic food handling that need to be considered in a home-based food business. These include:

  • avoiding cross contamination between ready-to-eat food and raw food or ingredients – including from food contact surfaces, utensils, sinks, taps, splash areas, tea towels and so on
  • cooking food thoroughly without overloading the oven
  • keeping hot food hot then cool as quickly as possible for storage
  • keeping cold food below 5°C
  • monitoring temperature with thermometers in the oven and refrigerator
  • controlling temperatures during transport
  • not re-using food containers and other materials if they are not rated for multiple uses by the manufacturer
  • maintaining hygiene with frequent, adequate hand washing
  • using single-use towels for drying hands and not tea towels
  • having an adequate cleaning regime in place
  • preventing other people living at or visiting the premises from accessing food preparation areas
  • preventing young children and pets from access to food preparation or storage areas

People operating a domestic food service business should also consider how to keep the operation running if the usual food handlers are sick. People who are sick must not prepare or handle food for sale.

Labelling

If you are packaging food or sale there are various labelling requirements which include:

  • name of the food
  • production 'lot' of the food prepared under the same conditions during a span of time
  • name and street address in Australia or New Zealand of the supplier of the food
  • list of ingredients
  • ‘best before’ or ‘use-by’ marking as appropriate to the product
  • directions for use and storage
  • a Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) - there is an online calculator to help generate complying NIPs
  • the country of origin of the product and its ingredients
  • warning and advisory statements and declaration of allergens.

The Food Authority has a fact sheet on Labelling which outlines the requirements.

Recalls

All businesses that manufacture food need to be able to recall or withdrawl a product if a problem is detected.

Inspections

From 1 July 2018, local councils will regulate all domestic kitchens where food that will be sold directly to the final consumer is prepared.

The NSW Food Authority will continue to regulate domestic kitchens that only sell food to other businesses, such as cafes, restaurants and supermarkets

Food safety officers from the Food Authority and environmental health officers (EHOs) from the local council are entitled to visit and inspect premises involved in a food business. Inspection fees may be charged by either agency.

Councils regulate home-based businesses when a food business sells direct to the final customer and may conduct inspections for food standards and other council environmental regulations.

If a food business does not sell direct to the final customer, the business will be regulated by the Food Authority.

The Food Authority’s inspection program across food industries is limited to higher risk operations. Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous foods such as sandwiches, salads, non-preservative sauces would be routinely inspected, whilst non-potentially-hazardous foods like jams, chutneys, biscuits or chocolates would not.

Whether a home-based food business falls within the inspection program will be determined on a case by case basis.

Reports of food-borne illness may also require inspections.

The Food Authority will inspect premises for compliance with the Food Standards Code requirements, in particular Food Safety Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3. The availability of hand washing facilities is of particular importance.

For packaged foods labelling compliance will be assessed.

The Food Authority will inspect home-based businesses based on risk-based criteria. It does not inspect businesses on request to meet market access conditions required by some councils.

Skills & knowledge

Anyone in charge of a food business should be able to identify all relevant food safety issues and control them.

All food handlers must have food safety skills and knowledge appropriate to their activities. Short courses on food safety are run by specialist providers and some educational institutions

Food handlers have specific hygiene obligations which apply to them as individuals and which they must comply with. For further details on handling requirements see health and hygiene requirements for food handlers.

The business may be required to have a Food Safety Supervisor if it processes and sells:

  • ready-to-eat food
  • potentially hazardous food that requires temperature control
  • food that is not sold in the supplier's original packaging.

Premises construction

Dedicated food premises are built to meet minimum standards and must be easy to clean. In the case of domestic premises, there may be certain exemptions granted based on practicality and frequency of the business food handling.

Exemptions are not granted for standards relating to flooring in kitchens and storerooms or requirements for personal hygiene areas, amongst others.

Operators of domestic premises need to ensure:

  • adequate hand washing facilities are available - check with local council on what is considered adequate
  • food is kept protected from pests and vermin at all stages, including storage of ingredients
  • premises are designed to exclude pests where practical
  • adequate refrigeration capacity is essential - overloading domestic refrigerators and constantly opening the door means food takes longer to cool and harmful microorganisms have more chance to grow
  • refrigerate foods in small portions to allow proper cooling
  • refrigerated foods should be kept below 5°C.

For more on construction requirements see Standard 3.2.3 at www.foodstandards.gov.au.

Legislation & standards

Like all food businesses, those based at home must meet the same food safety requirements as other retail food businesses.

This includes:

Additional guidance for home-based food businesses on complying with Chapter 3 of the Food Standards Code can be found in Appendix 10 of the Guide to the Food Safety Standards.

Operators should also consider if requirements set out for manufacturers and wholesalers apply to their business. 

Resources