Food prepared in residential premises

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 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 Food 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 Food Standards 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:

  • local government or
  • Department of Health (for food businesses located in Kings Park, Rottnest Island or locations not within a local government district)

needs to be contacted to find out whether the proposed activity will be able to meet the requirements of the Food Standards 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.

Enforcement agencies

Enforcement agencies can refer to the assessment of businesses that manufacture food to assist with determining what types of food are appropriate for preparation of low risk food within residential premises. 

More information

Food businesses should contact the relevant local government environmental and public health services where the food business is located for any food related queries. Refer to the online local government directory (external site) for contact details.

Food businesses in Kings Park, Rottnest Island, or locations not within a local government district, should contact the Environmental Health Directorate by emailing

Local government enforcement agencies can email for support with the Food Act and regulations

Last reviewed: 14-07-2020
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Public Health