Food Businesses

Who needs a Food Business Licence?

The Food Act 2006 defines a licensable food business as a food business that:

  • Involves the manufacture of food
  • Involves the retail sale of unpackaged food and is not a non-profit organisation
  • Is carried on by a non-profit organisation and involves the sale of meals prepared by the organisation at a particular place, on at least 12 days each financial year  

Licensable food businesses include (but are not limited to):

  • Businesses manufacturing food
  • Making food by combining ingredients eg. producing frozen meals in a factory, producing cake mixes
  • Significantly changing the condition or nature of food by any process such as milling, peeling, cutting or freezing
  • Bottling or canning food
  • Packing unpackaged food (other than unprocessed primary produce) eg. packing bulk coffee for wholesale
  • Making ice
  • Businesses that sell unpackaged food by retail
  • Restaurant or delicatessen
  • Catering business
  • Takeaway food outlets
  • Motel providing meals with accommodation
  • Unpackaged food from a vending machine
  • Child care centres
  • Bed breakfasts
  • Hostels
  • Private hospitals and nursing homes

Some licensable food businesses are also required to have an accredited food safety program.

Who does not require a Food Business Licence?

Even though a food business licence may not be required, the businesses still has a responsibility to ensure the sale of safe and suitable food and an obligation to comply with the Food Safety Standards. This includes the design, construction and fit out of the food premises.

Businesses that do not require a licence include:

  • Production of primary produce e.g. abattoirs or dairy farms (Safefood Queensland)
  • Food businesses conducted by the State or a government-owned corporation
  • Tuck shops operated by a parents and citizens association at a State School
  • Handling of food at a person's home that is intended to be given away to a non-profit organisation for sale by the organisation e.g. cakes made for fundraising
  • Sale of unpackaged snack food that is not potentially hazardous food e.g. corn chips, potato chips, confectionary, nuts, dried or glazed nuts, biscuits and cakes (however the business where the biscuits and cakes are made needs to be licensed)
  • Sale of whole fruit or vegetables
  • Sale of drinks, other than fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale e.g. tea, coffee, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks
  • Sale of ice including flavoured ice
  • Sale of unpackaged food, not considered to be a meal, by a non-profit organisation e.g. barbeque sausage sizzle
  • Provision of meals by a non-profit organisation that are prepared by an entity other than the organisation and are stored and heated or otherwise prepared by the organisation in accordance with directions of the meal's manufacturer

The definition of a meal is food that:

  1. Is, or intended to be, eaten by a person sitting at a table, or a fixed structure used as a table, with cutlery.
  2. Is of adequate substance as to be ordinarily accepted as a meal.

It is an offence under the Food Act 2006 for a person to carry on a licensable food business without holding a licence to carry on the business.

Licence types

Fixed Premises Food Business Licences are for a “fixed premises” means a building or other structure, or part of, with a permanent address. For example, a café, takeaway shop, restaurant or similar food business at a permanent location is considered a fixed premises.

If you intend to manufacture food or prepare or handle unpackaged food for wholesale or retail sale, you will need a Food Business Licence.

Temporary Food Business Licences are for temporary structures that are:

  • Used to prepare and sell food at occasional events such as a fete, market or show; AND
  • Dismantled after the event, like a stall, tent or barbeque stand.
  • They can also include parts of structures or land, and permanent structures not owned or leased by the business and used occasionally (eg, a community hall).

A Temporary Food Business operator must comply with the Food Act and Food Safety Standards in order to protect consumers.

Non-Profit Food Business Licences are required by all non-profit organisations that are selling food for less than 12 days per financial year and are required to have a non-profit food business licence issued from Isaac Regional Council.

If you prepare meals at the premises on 12 or more days per financial year, you are required to apply for a Food Business Licence (see the fixed premises food business licence section above). 

Note: A non-profit organisation means an organisation that:

 (a) is not carried on for the profit or gain of its individual members; and

 (b) is engaged in activities for a charitable, cultural, educational, political, social welfare, sporting or recreational purpose.

No individual person undertaking the activity should receive any personal benefit, gain or profit. Any organisation that wishes to publicly raise funds for a charitable or a community purpose in Queensland is also governed by the Collections Act 1966.

Home-based Food Business Licences are required if you intend to process, manufacture, and/or sell food from a domestic kitchen in residential premises, you are considered a home-based food business.

Council will assess your application on a case-by-case basis to check if food can be produced safely in your home.  There are some food safety issues to consider and your business will need:

  • Food storage – food for your business needs to be separate from household food.
  • Equipment storage – equipment needs to be stored so it is protected from contamination, for example, from pests such as cockroaches and mice.
  • Transport and delivery – if you are picking up or delivering cold potentially hazardous food, you need to transport it below 5⁰C. It is recommended you use a chilled esky. Hot food needs to be transported above 60⁰C.
  • Cold food storage – potentially hazardous food needs to be stored below 5⁰C. Council will assess if you have enough refrigerator space for both your business food and household food.
  • Frozen food storage – frozen food needs to be stored frozen to the touch and in accordance with the directions of the packaging. Council will assess if you have enough freezer space for your business food and household food. 
  • Electricity supply – your electricity supply needs to be able to power all of your appliances while you are cooking.
  • Cooling – if you are cooking and cooling food in bulk, you need to have enough room in your refrigerator to cool the food in smaller containers.
  • Cleaning – all surfaces and equipment that have contact with food need to be cleaned and sanitised.
  • Hand washing – you need hand wash facilities with warm, running water and soap and paper towel.
  • Children and pets – you need to exclude young children, pets and people who are sick from the food preparation area, when you are preparing food for the business.
  • Labelling – food that is packaged for retail sale needs to be labelled.

It is very important that good food safety and handling practices are in place to ensure the production of safe and suitable food. Learn more about Home-based food businesses.

Water Carriers Food Business Licence are required by water carriers used to cart water for human consumption and are considered a mobile food premises and are licensable under the Food Act 2006. As water carriers are transporting and handling food, they must meet the requirements of the Act.

Water carriers are required to obtain a food business licence from Council for the area in which they intend to operate and must have a food safety supervisor.

Mobile Premises Food Business Licence is required for a "mobile food vehicle". That is, a vehicle from which a person sells unpackaged food by retail, or a food vending machine.  It does not include food delivery vehicles that are only used to transport food from a business to another location (eg, pizza delivery).

Mobile food vehicles must meet the same food safety requirements as other food businesses, regardless of their size or how often you sell food. This means that you need to comply with the provisions of the Food Act 2006 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and are subject to the same licensing requirements as a food business operating from fixed premises.

The Food Act 2006 enables a mobile food vehicle operator to sell food in any local government area in Queensland under the one licence.  The local government in which the van operates may inspect the vehicle and take action against the operator if required.  You should contact the relevant council before you operate on land under local government control.

Who needs a Food Safety Supervisor

All licensed food businesses must have an approved food safety supervisor. The licensee of the food business may be the food safety supervisor and a business may have more than one food safety supervisor. A food safety supervisor is a person who has undertaken training in safe food handling and/or has sufficient experience in working in the food industry. The food safety supervisor needs to be reasonably contactable by us when the business is operating.

Food business licensees must tell us:

  • the name and contact details of the food safety supervisor within 30 days of the licence being issued.
  • the name and contact details of any new food safety supervisors within 14 days of the person becoming a food safety supervisor.
  • if there are any changes to the contact details of the food safety supervisor within 14 days of the change.
  • if a person ceases to be a food safety supervisor within 14 days of the change.

You need to provide Council copies of the Statements of Attainment before your licence can be issued.

All other staff should be trained in basic food handling skills. Isaac Council has endorsed a free online food safety training program, available at

Read more about Food safety supervisor guidelines.

Suitability of premises

The design, construction and fit-out of your premises or vehicle must comply with the Food Safety Standard 3.2.3.

For more detailed information on how to comply with the requirements of the Food Standard Code:

Fixed and Mobile Premises

Water Carrier

Food Business Licence renewals

Food Business Licences expire on 30 November every year and must be renewed. An application for renewal will be mailed out at least 60 days prior to the expiry of the licence . The renewal application must be fully completed and returned to Council with the annual fee by 30 November.

Food Safety programs and inspections

Food safety programs are required for some food businesses to reduce food safety risks. For example, in catering businesses and when serving food to vulnerable persons. A food safety program is a documented system that identifies the food safety hazards in the handling of food in a food business. The program details the way the hazards will be controlled in that business.

Your food safety program is accredited by your local Council. Your local council will determine how often you will need to be audited by a food safety third party auditor.

For more information on Food Safety Programs
Food safety programs and auditors | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government (

Inspections including pre-approval inspections are required for Food Business Licences. Council will be in contact with you to organise pre-approval inspection once applications have been lodged.

It is a requirement that all food businesses in Queensland comply with all requirements of the Food Act 2006, including the Food Safety Standards. The primary purpose of the Food Act 2006is to ensure food for sale is safe and suitable for human consumption.

Council’s Environmental Health Officers are authorised persons for the Act and will be conducting routine inspections of licensed food businesses throughout the year to monitor compliance with the Food Act 2006 and to help ensure only safe and suitable food is being sold. Officers are also available for advice and assistance in food safety matters. 

Other important information

You may be subject to further approvals to operate, such as a Trade Waste Permit or Planning Approval. 

Note: If you need planning approval, you must obtain it before you can apply for a Food Business Licence.

Contact Isaac Regional Council for more information on 1300 ISAACS (1300 472 227).