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Food businesses

Food businesses are businesses that:

  • handle food and drinks
  • manufacture food and drinks
  • package and repackage food and drinks
  • store food and drinks
  • serve food and drinks
  • distribute and import food and drinks

We manage the registration of these businesses to ensure that food businesses in our community are meeting food and safety rules, laws, and standards.

Whether you are starting a new food business, or buying/transferring an existing one, it's important that you understand the food safety rules and regulations. Before a food business is registered, our Environmental Health Officers inspect the business to make sure all requirements and standards of the 'Food Act 1984' are met. The Food Act protects people from potential health risks that can be caused by food.

Please note that throughout this webpage, we will use the word proprietor. In this case, a proprietor is someone who runs the food business and is responsible for its operation.

New fees and charges coming into effect from 1 January 2024 for non-compliant food businesses

Learn more about these new fees and charges for food businesses who are non-compliant.

Taking over an existing food business

When you purchase an existing food business, you must apply to register the business under your name. The current registration cannot be transferred from the previous business owner to you.

For class 1 and class 2 premises, you need to provide a new food safety program and select a food safety supervisor as part of the change of business ownership. You can find out more about this in the food business classification section on this page.

Once we approve the new registration, you will be legally responsible for making sure the business meets the rules set out in the Food Act.

You can contact us for more information about starting a new registration for an existing food business . The different ways you can get in touch with us are on our Contact us page.

Apply for a pre-purchase inspection of a food business

  • Before you buy an existing food business, we strongly suggest that you get a Pre-purchase Inspection Report from us.

    We offer a pre-purchase inspection service for a fee. This service includes an inspection of the food business by our Environmental Health Officers, and a report that informs you of any instances where the food business does not meet the Food Standards Code. You can find out more about this code on the Victorian Government's Food Standards website.

    After we issue this report, it is the responsibility of the purchaser and the vendor of the food business to negotiate to resolve any issues.

    Once you've applied, you will receive the Pre-Purchase Inspection Report within 10 business days.

    The current proprietor of the food business must agree to you making an application for a pre-purchase inspection.

  • You can apply for a pre-purchase inspection on our eServices website.

    If you need help to submit your application online, you can get in touch with us using the details on our Contact us page.

Starting a new food business

If you are thinking about starting a new food business in Merri-bek, the information below will help you understand what you need to do first.

Anyone who sells food in Victoria must register with their local council under the 'Food Act 1984'. Our Environmental Health Officers will inspect food businesses to make sure they are meeting the 'Food Act and Food Standards Code'. The purpose of the Act and Code is to protect people from getting sick from food sold and served in Merri-bek.

Business Approvals Merri-bek is a service for new businesses which involves a meeting with Merri-bek staff to discuss your business. You can find out more about Business Approvals Merri-bek on our Starting a new business page.

It’s important to understand what permits your business might need.

You can complete a survey to work out which permits you may need. This survey is available on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website.

We also have the following available:

Register a new food business

Registration runs from 1 January to 31 December each year. There is an annual registration fee to pay, and you will be sent reminders each year to renew your registration.

  • When registering a new food business, we recommend that you submit your plans and requirements to us, along with the details of the type of business you wish to operate.

    The plans submitted should include:

  • You can register your business online on our eServices website. To do this follow the steps below:

    1. Select the class of food related business from the list of 'Environmental Health Licences'
    2. As part of the online registration process, upload digital files and pay the fee by Visa or MasterCard.

    If you need help submitting your application, you can:

  • After you submit an application you will receive an automated email confirmation when we receive your application.

    Your application will be allocated an application number and assigned to an environmental health officer, who will begin the assessment process. You'll be notified of the application number and the officer's name and contact details.

    When we have assessed your application and inspected your premises, we will let you know if your registration has been granted, granted with conditions, or refused.

  • There is a fixed registration period that runs from 1 January to 31 December each year. The annual registration fee is set by us.

    We send an annual renewal notice to all registered health-related businesses. You can pay the renewal fee by Visa or MasterCard on our eServices website.

Food business classifications

When you register a food business with us, your business will be given a class number. There are 4 classes. These classes are set out in the 'Food Act 1984', which controls the sale of food in Victoria. All food businesses must follow the Food Act. Each different class has different food safety requirements to make sure they are meeting food standards.

You can also refer to the food business classifications list on the Department of Health website.

If you change the type of food that you handle, this may change the class of your food business. Changing the class of your business may require you to pay a fee, change your food safety program, and possibly update the qualifications held by your food safety supervisor. 

Class 1

Class 1 food premises have the highest food safety risks. These premises predominantly handle potentially hazardous food that is served to vulnerable people in:

  • hospitals
  • child care centres providing long day care
  • aged care facilities, such as nursing homes

These businesses must:

  • have a tailored food safety program appropriate to their food business activities
  • have a food safety supervisor at all times
  • register a new premises

There is more information about food safety programs for class 1 food premises on the Department of Health website.

Class 2

Class 2 food premises handle unpackaged, potentially hazardous foods that need correct temperature control during the food handling process to keep them safe. This includes cooking and storage. Class 2 premises include:

  • restaurants
  • fast food outlets
  • pubs
  • caterers
  • delicatessens
  • supermarkets with delicatessens
  • cafes
  • food vending machines handling high-risk foods
  • most manufacturers

These businesses must have:

  • a food safety supervisor
  • a tailored food safety program appropriate to their food business activities

The Class 2 premises' tailored food safety program can be either:

Class 3

These food businesses are businesses whose main activities involve the sale of foods not commonly associated with food poisoning.

Premises expected to fall into class 3 include:

  • fruit stalls selling cut fruit
  • wholesalers distributing pre-packaged foods
  • most milk bars, convenience stores, and coffee bars
  • food vending machines handling lower risk foods

These businesses need to have completed basic records about certain food safety practices onsite, including details about suppliers and potentially hazardous food.

Class 4

Class 4 food premises have a very low risk to public health, such as:

  • premises that sell shelf-stable prepackaged confectionery, such as newsagents, pharmacies, video stores, and bottle shops
  • premises that sell uncut fruit and vegetables, such as farmers markets and greengrocers
  • premises offering wine tastings
  • shops and stalls selling packaged cakes (excluding cream cakes), bottled jams, and honey
  • sessional kindergartens serving low-risk food and cut fruit
  • stalls at community fundraising events operating simple sausage sizzles, where the sausages are cooked and served immediately. This means sausages, sauce, onions, and bread, not hamburgers, egg and bacon rolls, or other high-risk foods.

These businesses need to have completed basic records about certain food safety practices onsite, including details about suppliers and potentially hazardous food.

Food safety programs and food safety supervisors

  • A food safety program is a plan that shows what a business does to make sure the food it sells is safe for humans to eat.

    Food safety programs are an important tool for helping businesses that handle, process or sell potentially hazardous foods ensure they protect people's health and have safe food-handling practices.

    There is more information available about food safety programs on the Department of Health website.

  • The role of a food safety supervisor is to oversee a business's food handling and ensure it is done safely.

    A food safety supervisor must be able to do and have the following:

    • know how to recognise, prevent and reduce risks and dangers related to food handling
    • have a Statement of Attainment from a registered training organisation
    • be able to supervise other people at the business handling food and make sure it is done safely

    The food safety supervisor may be the proprietor or an employee of the food business.

    Depending on what class your food business is in, you will need to complete a set number of training units to become a food safety supervisor.

    You can find out more about food safety training and accreditation on the Department of Health website.

Resources regarding venues for food businesses

The following resources are available about venues for food businesses:

Temporary and mobile food premises

Temporary food premises are stalls, tents, or any other structure that are not in place permanently. Examples of temporary food premises include:

  • stalls at markets or festivals
  • sausage sizzles
  • private drinking water carts
  • food vending machines

Mobile food premises are vehicles such as vans, trailers, or carts from which food is sold. Examples of mobile food premises include:

  • food trucks
  • ice-cream vans

Both temporary and mobile food businesses are subject to regulations and must meet food safety standards. If your food business operates from a fixed location for more than 3 consecutive days and nights before moving locations, you will need to have permanent water and wastewater connections.

If you are running a fundraising event that involves selling food (for example, stalls at fetes or fairs), you must meet the same regulations and food safety standards as a food premise.

We are currently developing Mobile Food Vendor guidelines, and please review our  Footpath Trading Guidelines.

In Victoria, you can register your temporary or mobile food business online on the FoodTrader website.

  • You can submit an application to register a temporary or mobile food premises using the Victorian Government's FoodTrader website. Once the application has been lodged, one of our Environmental Health Officers will be in contact to discuss the application.

    We only accept applications for mobile or temporary food premises through FoodTrader. Other applications (for fixed food premises, like restaurants and cafes) can be completed online.

    Other resources:

  • If you want to have your mobile or temporary food premises on the side of the road, you will need a roadside trading permit. You can only apply for this permit once you have registered your business.

    You are not allowed to set up your roadside premise wherever you wish. We have specific locations for roadside trading that have been pre-assessed and approved. To trade at other sites, you will need to seek approval.

    Roadside Trading Permits expire on 31 July each year.

    Roadside trading permit fees for 2023-24

    The permit fees for roadside trading in 2023-24 are either:

    • $2,730 per van (non-refundable annual permit)
    • $273 for a single-use permit to conduct roadside trading

    *fees are subject to change

  • Complete our roadside trading permit application form by filling out the document below.

    Roadside trading permit application form (.DOC)

    You can submit the completed application form and any required information: 

    • by mailing it to Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Brunswick, VIC 3056
    • in person at Merri-bek Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg
    • by emailing the documents to

    Your application will be assessed by the Local Laws team and, if approved, we will send you an invoice.

    You can pay your roadside trading permit invoice on our eServices website.

Meat, fish, or dairy primary industry business registration

Some primary industry businesses need to be registered with other authorities. Butchers, fishmongers, and meat and poultry processing facilities need to register on the PrimeSafe website.

Dairy processors, transporters, manufacturers, and distributors need to register on the Dairy Food Safety Victoria website.

Primary producers engaged in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, or related pursuits should contact Agriculture Victoria for further advice. Their contact details are available on the Agriculture Victoria website. This includes businesses growing micro herbs, mushrooms, and sprouts.

Fees for food business registration and renewal

When you register or renew a food business you will need to pay a fee. You will pay less when you renew your annual registration after your first year.

With your registration fee, you will get:

  • assessments of your plans by Environmental Health Officers
  • 2 progress inspections
  • a final inspection and certificate
  • an inspection within 3 months of opening to ensure everything meets rules and regulations

All fees include GST and must be paid at the time you submit a request for registration.

If you are a charity or community group you can get a discount of 25% off the registration fee.

Registration Fees

Registration fees for food business registration are as follows.

  • Food Class 1 - $1463.00
  • Food Class 2 - $1463.00
  • Food Class 3 or 3A- $1294.00
  • Food Class 4 - No fee
  • More than 5 full-time employees - $20.00 for each additional employee
  • Food Truck/Stall associated with a fixed position (premises) in Merri-bek - $500.00 for each truck/stall (usually registered in FoodTrader)

Renewal Fees

Renewal fees for food business registration are as follows.  

  • Food Class 1 - $720.00
  • Food Class 2 - $748.00
  • Food Class 3 & 3A - $557.00
  • Food Class 4 - No fee
  • More than 5 full-time employees - $20.00 for each additional employee
  • Food Truck/Stall associated with a fixed position (premises) in Merri-bek - $500.00 for each truck/stall

Please note that if your business has been found to be non compliant in the previous 12 months these fees will be higher.

Pre-purchase Inspection Fees

Pre-purchase fees for food business registration are as follows.

All food businesses - $485.00

Change of Class Fees

Change of Class fees for food business registration is as follows.

Food businesses that change to a higher classification (e.g. Class 3 to Class 2) - $218.00

Pay your renewal fees

You can pay your renewal fees by Visa or Mastercard on our eServices website. This does not include temporary or mobile food premises fees and new food business fees.

To pay your renewal fees you will need to have access to the 'Application number' located on your invoice or renewal notice.

You can register as a user and sign in to access My Accounts on our eServices website. As a registered user, you can keep track of requests and applications on any device and don't need to re-enter your personal information.

  • You can pay your renewal fee with a Visa or MasterCard over the phone 24 hours a day using Council's secure automated system.

    To make this payment you need to:

    1. Phone 9240 1111 and press 1 to make a payment. Then press 7 to pay 'licencing tax invoices' and follow the voice prompts.
    2. Provide the ‘Application number' located on your invoice or renewal notice and your Visa or MasterCard details.
  • To pay your invoice by post you need to:

    1. Separate the payment slip at the bottom of your invoice or renewal notice and mail it with your cheque or money order to Merri-bek City Council, Locked Bag 10, Brunswick 3056, before the due date.
    2. Make the cheque or money order payable to ‘Merri-bek City Council’ and cross it 'Not negotiable'. Do not include cash in the mail.

    We do not provide a receipt for payments received by mail. Please keep the top section of the notice for your records.

  • You can pay your business renewal fee in person by bringing your notice to one of our Council Customer Service Centres before the due date. The locations of these centres are on our Contact us page.

    You can pay by Visa or MasterCard, EFTPOS, cheque, money order and cash. The minimum payment for all card transactions is $10 and there is no cash out facility.

Food complaints, recalls, and food safety inspections

Sometimes, members of the community may submit a complaint about the food or food safety practices at a business. Other times, a type of food may need to be removed from the community.  To find out more about these situations and our food safety inspections, go to our Public health and safety page.

Environment Health Food Safety newsletters

Food premises newsletters 2023:
  1. Food businesses newsletter - August 2023  - Includes information on new Non-compliant Fee
  2. Food business newsletter - December 2023 - Includes information on new Food Safety Standard
  3. Food premises Self-assessment Checklist - December 2023Inlcudes information on Self-assessment Checklist
Food premises newsletters sent out in 2024:
  1. Food business newsletter - April 2024