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Everything You Must Know Before Starting a Food Business in Australia

Starting a food service business comes with its due share of challenges but understanding the problems you might face beforehand can help you plan how to handle them, increasing your chance to succeed. Establishing a commercial kitchen can be hugely rewarding, but success never comes without hard work and solid planning.

Once you have decided to start a restaurant, a cafeteria or maybe a takeaway joint, a number of legal steps need to be followed before you can begin the operation. These rules have been designed to safeguard the consumer from food-related health hazards. 

Licensing the business 

Licensing your business from the local council is essential before you can start operation. The rules and regulations vary depending on the location of the establishment and the type of operation.

If you handle food products that are for sell to the customers, you will essentially need to inform the proper authority. Businesses like restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, community organizations, etc., come under this category.

Services that may or may not require a license depending on the area of operation and other parameters include, child and aged care facilities, processing companies, etc. Before you get the license, you should determine the right category for your business. You will need this information for getting a proper license.

In Australia, every state and territory have a different classification system for food businesses. To determine the right one for you, check the classification details for the specific state or territory where you will be operating. All the information is available on the websites of the respective states. 


Licensing the premises 

Depending on the area where you will operate, you might need to get a license for the premises much before getting the gas cooktops or other catering equipment. Informing the authority might or might not be required depending on how much work you need to do on the premises.

If you are taking over an existing service and renovating the premises as per your needs or preferences, you should inform the local council. Any renovation of the building structure or the plumbing work will need approval. You won’t need any extra permission if you take over an existing service operating in the same industry and have no plans to renovate the premises. 

When you establish a new business on new premises, you need to inform the local council and opt for rezoning and development applications. For setting a new business on a premise where no similar venture has operated in the past, you may need to make a development application for ‘change of use’. For further details and information on leasing the premises, contact your local council. 


Other permits and licenses            

You will also need separate license if your business discharges trade waste into the local sewerage system. Outdoor dining permit is essential if your customers are supposed to dine on the footpath. There are also licensing requirement for selling liquor and playing music in the establishment. 

While applying for the license and registration to your local council, you will need to provide information, such as, the type of cuisine you will be serving, if you serve pre-packaged items, who will receive your products and more. Contact your local council to know the processes required for the registration.   

Regulatory requirements for the kitchen 

A food service business cannot operate without a kitchen, and there are regulatory requirements to follow for the equipment you will use. For example, the exhaust system is a vital part of any large-scale kitchen. You must follow specific regulatory norms to decide the style and suction capacity of the stainless steel hood to be installed in the facility. For ducted hoods, you might also need to follow guidelines about the positioning of the exhaust pipe.  

Training the staff 

In Australia, it is a legal requirement to train employees who are supposed to handle food for food safety. It should cover basic training for the industry, along with handling and safety measures to be followed during the day-to-day operations. This training can be provided through nationally accredited online or classroom-based training courses, through manuals or in-house training by a consultant. 

Food safety supervisor 

Having a food safety supervisor is mandatory in many Australian states. You can either train one of your employees for the responsibility or hire a licensed supervisor on contract. The supervisor must have the required training specific to the particular state or territory and the specific sector of the industry. Apart from proper training and certification, they should have the necessary license from the state. 

This employee is responsible for ensuring that all the food safety measures are followed properly in everyday operation. Having one supervisor will do the job unless your business has long operation hours. In that case, you might need two supervisors on rotation, or you might hire one contractual supervisor along with a full-time employee who you can call up as per need.  

Complying with all the food safety regulations is mandated by the law. The Food Standards Code is available on the website of the Food Safety Authority Australia and New Zealand for ready reference. You should stay updated about any new safety laws and prepared for any audit by the Environmental Health Officers from time to time. 


What’s next? - designing the kitchen 

After getting the required licenses for the business and finishing up any due renovation for the structure or premises, next, you should focus on designing the kitchen. Choose the right kitchen layout according to the type of business and the expected volume of customers to be served each day. Do not miss to decide the menu to be served before finalizing the kitchen layout.  

Once the menu and the layout are final, it is time to get the right commercial kitchen equipment for your kitchen. Prepare a list of the equipment you will need depending on the menu and budget. Determine the size and other specifications of the equipment according to the available space in the kitchen and the food volume to be prepared, stored, or displayed.


When you are clear about your requirements, do your research to find the best commercial kitchen equipment supplier in your area. Always spend on good quality appliances that come with a warranty. 

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