Food prepared in residential premises

Food Act 2008 fact sheet 1

Version 1 July 2009


There are a number of food businesses that operate from residential premises.

These include:

  • bed and breakfast establishments
  • farm-stay accommodation
  • food prepared for fundraising events
  • food prepared for market stalls and fetes.

There are special considerations when assessing these types of food businesses but overall these types of operators are responsible for ensuring all food prepared for sale is:

Requirements of the Food Act 2008

The Food Act does not specifically prohibit food preparation in residential premises; it simply requires all food businesses to ensure compliance with the Act.

A food business is defined as:

‘…a business, enterprise or activity that involves the handling of food for sale or the sale of food, regardless of whether, subject to section 6, the business, enterprise or activity concerned is of a commercial, charitable or community nature or whether it involves the handling or sale of food on one occasion only.’

Therefore people who prepare food for sale within residential premises are deemed to be food businesses for the purposes of the Food Act.

Requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

The Food Act adopts in full the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code), which is developed and administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (external site). This means that all food businesses must comply with its requirements.

Chapter 3 of the Code contains the design and fit out requirements as well as the processing requirements that all food businesses must meet. Allowance is made within the Code for some exemptions relating to requirements for food premises that are used principally as a private dwelling if the proprietor has the approval in writing of the appropriate enforcement agency (Standard 3.2.2 clause 17(2)).

The Department’s policy on food businesses that operate from premises that are used principally as a private dwelling is that approval for exemptions contained within the Code should only be granted for food businesses that have been classified as ‘low risk’.

Who approves food preparation activities within residential premises?

The appropriate enforcement agency needs to be contacted to find out whether the proposed activity will be able to meet the requirements of the Code.

There are a number of  points that need to be taken into consideration, including:

  • whether the local town planning scheme will allow the proposed activity within a residential area
  • whether the structure of the premises is appropriate for the proposed activities. This is to be determined by the appropriate enforcement agency
  • the relative risk of the food preparation activities proposed
  • whether the activity is for commercial gain or fundraising/charitable purposes.

Will food prepared by volunteers for fundraising activities be required to be prepared in approved premises?

This information applies to fundraising activities such as low risk cake stalls, fetes, festivals and the like.

Section 6 of the Food Act allows for certain food preparation activities of a charitable or community nature to be exempt from all or any provisions of the Food Act.

In accordance with this section, the new food regulations prescribe an exemption from registration to food businesses conducted as fundraising events  so long as:

  • the food business is conducted to raise money solely for purposes that are of a charitable or community nature
  • any food handled in the course of conducting the food business:
    • is not potentially hazardous food
    • after being appropriately cooked, is provided by the food business for immediate consumption.

This means that premises used for the preparation of non-potentially-hazardous food by volunteers will not need to be registered.

However, these types of food businesses will still be required to notify the appropriate enforcement agency of their food preparation activities.

It is an offence for a food business not to notify the appropriate enforcement agency of their intention to operate, regardless of whether they need to register their business.

What fees will be applicable to food businesses undertaken within residential premises?

Fees for food businesses where the relevant enforcement agency is local government are to be set under Part 6 of the Local Government Act 1995 (external site).

It will be to the discretion of the relevant local government to decide whether food businesses operating from residential premises will be subject to a fee and to set that fee in accordance with the Local Government Act 1995.

Are there tools to assist enforcement agencies approve applications for food businesses within residential premises?

The Department has developed a fact sheet intended to assist enforcement agencies determine what types of food are appropriate for preparation of low risk food within residential premises.

Read more on the assessment of businesses that manufacture food.

More information

The Food Unit can provide assistance to enforcement agencies in determining the appropriate risk classification for different types of foods/food businesses.

For more information phone the Food Unit on 9222 2000.

Alternatively you can fill out a Food Unit query form Food Unit query form (PDF 207KB) or Word 254KB and return it to

Food businesses can also contact an environmental health officer at your local government authority (external site).

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Public Health