Common food business application problems

An application for a food business licence may be refused if information required as part of the application is insufficient or does not meet legislative requirements.

You can limit delays when submitting your application to Brisbane City Council for approval. Find out about common problems encountered by applicants, such as providing insufficient information, design and construction errors and how you can avoid these issues.

Translated documents

View the drawings and examples in other languages.

Insufficient information

Many food business applications are lodged with insufficient information to assess the licence application. Issues can include:

  • incorrect names, addresses and food business licence category entered on the application form
  • no list of directors or members of the management committee supplied with the licence application
  • no fee submitted with the application
  • designs that don't meet the Food Safety Standards.

Design and construction errors

Council is required to assess whether the food business is suitable for the food handling that will be undertaken at the business. Getting your food premises design and construction wrong can cost you money, time and effort. Council has addressed common design and construction errors and provided some solutions and tips for getting it right the first time.

For more information on acceptable solutions and achieving best practice, refer to the design and fit-out guide for food businesses located on the application process and assessment page of the Local Government Toolbox website.

Food premises

All surfaces should be smooth, impervious (unable to absorb water, grease, food etc), and easy to clean and maintain.


  • acceptable finishes include tiles, epoxy and poly-vinyl sheeting
  • plinths (slab used at the base of equipment for support) need to be coved and solid

Coving (the curved edge between the wall and floor):

  • should have the same finish as the floor
  • continue up the wall for 75 millimetres
  • aluminium or feather edged skirting is not permitted.


  • acceptable finishes include stainless steel, tiles, high gloss painted pre-formed panels and high gloss painted plaster


  • acceptable finishes include high gloss painted pre-formed panels and high gloss painted plaster
  • drop in ceiling panels are not permitted
  • lights must be flush with the ceilings and have a cover.

Hints and tips

  • plain, light coloured finishes will help you easily identify areas for cleaning
  • exposed timber is not an acceptable solution as it absorbs grease, food particles and water
  • food serving areas also need to meet the Food Safety Standards, the same as food preparation areas
  • Council does not assess Work Health and Safety requirements as part of the design assessment. Consider other legislative requirements when designing your food premises.


Different sinks are required to undertake food preparation, cleaning and sanitising. At a minimum a food premises will need a:

  1. Handwash basin:
    • located within five metres of food preparation and food handling areas. If these areas are separated by a wall or door, a basin is required in each area
    • of sufficient size to wash hands and forearms
    • supplied with warm water through a mixer tap.
  2. Food preparation sink:
    • for the sole purpose of washing food products
    • separated from other sinks by a physical barrier to prevent contamination of food from other kitchen activities. The barrier must have a smooth impervious finish that is 300 millimetres high and runs from the back of the bench to the front of the bench.
  3. Double bowl sink for dishwashing or a single bowl sink and a commercial dishwasher:
    • sinks must be of a size suitable to cover the largest piece of kitchen equipment with water, for example pots and pans
    • commercial dishwasher must be able to fit the largest piece of kitchen equipment.
  4. Cleaners' sink or access to tap (positioned lower than benchtops) with disposal to sewer.

Fixtures, fittings and equipment

All fixtures, fittings and equipment must be designed, constructed and installed so they can be easily and effectively cleaned and do not provide areas for pests to gather and breed.


  • mechanical exhaust ventilation is required if you are installing a deep fryer or a single piece of cooking equipment that has a total power input exceeding 8kW or 29MH/h
  • advise your installer that the mechanical exhaust ventilation system must meet Australian Standards 1668.1 and 1668.2
  • the design and installation of the mechanical ventilation system must be certified. Proof of certification must be provided at the final inspection. Certification forms for design (Form 15) and installation (Form 16) are available from the Department of Housing and Public Works website
  • bench top canopies are not suitable and will not be approved.

Cold rooms:

  • spaces that are above, behind or beside the cold room that cannot be easily cleaned or accessed must be fully enclosed
  • a temperature display gauge is required on the outside of the cold room
  • have adequate shelving for storage of food products off the ground
  • floors need to be coved at the floor to wall junction.

Protective barriers (sneeze guards)

  • are required when there is a risk of contamination of food by customers, particularly for self-service or food displays
  • food kiosks are particularly vulnerable and may require additional barriers to prevent contamination from above
  • are not required where the customer can be kept at a distance greater than 1500 millimetres from the food preparation bench or cooking surface.

Cooking appliances

  • to enable easy and effective cleaning of cooking equipment consider these three solutions:
    • place on metal legs approximately 150 millimetres high so it is off the ground or bench top with sufficient space to clean under and around
    • can be easily moved, that is, mounted on wheels
    • sealed to a solid, filled plinth with coving.


  • splashbacks must be 300 millimetres high
  • where the underside of a fixed bench meets the wall it must be sealed.

Storage and staff facilities

Remember to consider your staff needs and storage requirements in the design of the food premises. This is often overlooked and can be a costly late addition.


  • you will need to provide storage facilities away from food and cooking equipment for:
    • cleaning chemicals and equipment
    • staff personal belongings
    • office paperwork and equipment
  • dry goods and food packaging materials should be stored in a room with the same wall, floor and ceiling finishes as the kitchen and be sealed to prevent entry by pests.


  • do not put shelving or other barriers (for example, hanging utensils or equipment) between cooking equipment and the exhaust canopy

Staff toilets

  • ensure there are adequate toilet facilities including a hand washing basin for staff to access

Translated documents

Drawings and examples in Simplified Chinese

Drawings and examples in Traditional Chinese

Drawings and examples in Korean

Last updated: 12 November 2021

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.