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 vehicles used for:
- on-site food preparation, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and kebabs
- one-step food preparation, such as 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 more information on the requirements for mobile food vendors, download our guide:
- Guidelines for Mobile Food Vending Vehicles (PDF, 596 KB)
Changes for mobile food vendors
Recent changes to the Food Standards Code introduced new food safety requirements for businesses that handle and serve unpackaged, potentially hazardous, ready-to-eat food. The requirements are outlined in each of the sections below.
Mobile food vendors and similar retail food outlets (except waterborne food businesses) 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.
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.
There are minimal requirements for coffee vendors that only sell hot drinks and packaged food, due to their low food safety risk. Standard 3.2.2A does not apply to these businesses and they do not need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor.
However, the Standard 3.2.2A and Food Safety Supervisor requirements do apply to any coffee vendor selling food that is:
- potentially hazardous (requires temperature control), and
See Standard 3.2.2A - Frequently asked questions for more information.
Food businesses operating mobile food vending vehicles need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) if the food they prepare and serve is:
- potentially hazardous (needs temperature control), and
- 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 commencing operation.
Please see Food Safety Supervisors for information on how to obtain a certificate.
Mobile food vendors are responsible for making sure 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 ensure their food handlers have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene under Standard 3.2.2A of the Code. This is different to the Food Safety Supervisor requirement.
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.
- See Food Handler Basics training for more information, including how to access the Food Authority’s free Food Handler Basics training course.
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 businesses 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 relating to potentially hazardous food must be controlled, including for:
- food receipt
- 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.
Inspections of mobile food vending vehicles (except waterborne food businesses) 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.
- See inspections for more information.
If a mobile food vending vehicle operates across council boundaries, most councils will use a home jurisdiction rule. This means the vehicle will be primarily regulated by the council where the vehicle is garaged. That council is known as the ‘home council’.
The home council will carry out an inspection of the vehicle and any associated food storage and preparation areas, ideally under operational conditions.
If the vehicle trades outside the local council area in which it is garaged, it may also be inspected by another council in which it first trades, so that an inspection is conducted under operational conditions.
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.
Hygiene and handling
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
Full requirements are set out in Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2, Division 4 - Health and Hygiene.
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.
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