How to comply
Council operates within a total compliance framework by incorporating education, regulation and enforcement in ensuring businesses are compliant.
All food businesses in Queensland are legally required to comply with the requirements set out in the following:
- The Food Act 2006; and
- The Food Safety Standards.
Queensland Health and Local Government are the two government bodies responsible for administering the requirements of the Food Act 2006 and Food Standards Code.
The aim of the Food Act 2006 is to ensure the safety of the public by the supply of safe and suitable food.
The Food Standards Code sets out obligations for people who handle, sell, or prepare food for sale. All people who carry out these activities in a food business are responsible for ensuring the food that is sold is safe and suitable.
With over 660 licensed food businesses in the Mackay regional area, it is critical that these businesses are regulated and comply with all relevant food legislation. If you are starting a new food business or taking over an existing food business you may need a food business licence.
Who needs a licence?
The applicant for a food business licence must be a legal entity e.g. a person/s or company; a business name or shop name is not a legal entity and cannot be the licence holder.
The types of food handling that must be covered by a food licence include:
- Making food for wholesale by combining ingredients such as producing frozen meals in a factory or producing cake mixes
- Significantly changing the condition or nature of food by any process such as milling flour, peeling, cutting or freezing vegetables
- Bottling or canning food
- Packing unpackaged food, other than unprocessed primary produce for example, packing bulk coffee for wholesale
- Making and packaging of ice (with the exception of the sale of ice including flavoured ice such as snow cones or bags of party ice)
- Making biscuits or cakes for retail sale for profit (eg baking at home, then selling at stalls, markets or fetes etc)
Examples of the type of food business that would be licensable may include, but not limited to:
- Food manufacturers (e.g. cannery, production of packaged ice)
- Takeaway food shops
- Motels providing meals with accommodation
- Mobile food vehicles
- Temporary food premises
- Private hospitals
- Bed and breakfasts
- Water carriers for human consumption
- Honey Production
|Food manufacturer/packer||Manufacturing and/or packing of foods to be transferred to another premises for retail, sale or service.||Home based businesses, repackaging, cake decorators, internet sales, diet meal delivery services.|
|Retail food premises||Retail sale of food designed to be further handled and consumed elsewhere (not necessarily immediately or in the form it’s sold), however may include some takeaway food.||Supermarkets, delicatessens, fruit and vegetable stores, petrol stations|
|Takeaway food premises||Food designed and packaged to be ‘taken away’ for immediate consumption in the form it’s sold, however ancillary seating may be provided.||Fast food, ice creameries, pizza, fish & chips, sandwich bars, canteens, bakeries|
|Eating establishment||Seating provided by premises and intended that food will be consumed on site, however may include an ancillary takeaway food component.||Café, restaurant, bistro, tavern and bar, bed & breakfast|
|Aged/medical care service||An aged care facility, delivered meal organisation for frail, aged or disabled persons and medical facilities.||Nursing homes, respite care, low care aged care, same day aged care facilities, private hospitals, day hospitals, palliative care hospitals, or meals on wheels type organisations|
|Caterer on-site||Preparing and serving potentially hazardous food to all consumers of the food at the premises (or part of the premises) from which the business is carried on, under an agreement under which the food is of a predetermined type, for a predetermined number of persons, served at a predetermined time and for a predetermined cost.||Function centre|
|Caterer off-site||Serving potentially hazardous foods at a place other than the principle place of business.||Mobile catering business|
|Childcare centre||Child care for preschool aged children including long day care, occasional day care and employer sponsored day care (does not include home day care).|
Who is exempt from a licence?
Even though a licence may not be required, the Food Act 2006 still requires you to ensure the sale of safe and suitable food by complying with the Food Standards Code. This includes the design, construction and fit out of your premises as well.
A food business that conducts only the following activities does not require a food licence from council, however may need an approval from another Government agency:
- Handling or sale of fisheries resources under a buyer licence issued under the Fisheries Regulation 1995, except where the seafood is cooked
- Sale of unpackaged snack food, such as biscuits, cakes, confectionery, nuts and potato chips that are not potentially hazardous food
- Sale of whole fruit or vegetables
- Sale of seeds, spices, dried or glazed fruits, dried herbs, tea leaves, coffee beans or ground coffee
- Grinding of coffee beans
- Sale of drinks (other than fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale) including, for example, tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
- Sale of ice, including flavoured ice, such as slurpees and snow cones or bags of party ice
- Sale of food, by a non-profit organisation that consists only of fruit, cereal, toast or similar food
- Provision of meals by a non-profit organisation that are pre-prepared by another organisation and are stored and heated or otherwise prepared by the non-profit organisation in accordance with the directions of the meal’s manufacturer
- Sale of food, by a non-profit organisation, that is prepared as part of an educational or training activity conducted by the organisation involving food preparation, hospitality or catering
- Sale of other food prescribed under a regulation
Types of Enforcement
Enforcement of food safely legislation is conducted by council's Environmental Health Officers (EHO). A large part of this enforcement involves inspecting food premises. The inspection is carried out to ensure the food business is compliant with the food safety legislation.
The EHO is required to:
- Ensure food for sale is safe
- Identify risks to public health and safety
- Provide education
- Work with businesses towards compliance with all relevant legislation
Failure to comply with the Food Act 2006 and the Food Safety Standards may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions:
- Low star rating and higher renewal fees
- Improvement notice
- Penalty infringement notice
- Seizure of food and/or equipment
- Suspension or cancellation of licence
The frequency of inspections is dependent on the risk level of the business.
Premises are assigned a star rating determined by the number and type of food safety issues and risks on the premises. This then determines an individual frequency of inspection for each premise - the higher the risk, the greater the frequency of the inspection.
Do I need a Food safety supervisor?
The Food Act 2006 requires every licensable food business in Queensland to have a food safety supervisor nominated. Every licensed food business must provide to the local government that issued the licence, information regarding the food safety supervisor for that business. In order to notify council of the nominated food safety supervisor for your food business, you must complete council's food safety supervisor nomination form and return to council with all supporting documentation.
For further information regarding this requirement please view Queensland Health's factsheet.
To ensure all you staff including the Food Safety Supervisor have adequate skills and knowledge, refer to the Food Safety Training webpage for more information.
Do I need a Food safety program?
As of 1 July 2007, food businesses conducting the following type of activities must have an accredited food safety program with council:
- off-site catering;
- primarily on-site catering at the premises stated in the licence;
- primarily on-site catering at part of the premises stated in the licence to cater to 200 or more people on 12 or more occasions in any 12 month period;
- part of the operations of a private hospital; and/or
- processes or serves potentially hazardous food to six or more vulnerable people.
Refer to the Food Safety Program webpage to apply for more information about developing and applying for accreditation of a Food Safety Program.
What kind of labelling do i need?
Labelling of food is regulated by Queensland Health. If the food for sale is not in a package, it is not required to bear a label.
If you are packaging food, refer to the Queensland Health website to determine what your obligations are to label food.
Are dogs allowed in dining areas?
A food business may choose to allow companion dogs in their outdoor areas ONLY, provided certain criteria is met and Footpath Trading requirements are taken into consideration.
Assistance animals such as guide dogs and dogs trained to assist a person in activities where hearing is required and any other animal trained to assist a person with a disability, MUST be permitted in all areas used by customers (both outdoor and indoor eating and drinking areas and any other customer areas).
Companion and assistance animals are not permitted to enter non-customer areas such as a kitchen, storeroom or other places where food is handled.
Read more about Animals in a food premises on the Queensland Health webpage .
Learn more about
- Application forms and resources
- What foods are potentially hazardous
- How to apply for a food licence
- Fixed food premise requirements
- Mobile food vending requirements
- Temporary food stall requirements
- Footpath Dining requirements
- Eat Safe Mackay and Star Ratings
For more information about complying with food legislation, contact council's Health and Regulatory Services to speak with an Environmental Health Officer on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) or email email@example.com.