Home-based food business

Starting a home-based food business can be a convenient way to launch a small business. To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to understand the fit-out requirements.

As a general guide, your business will need:

  • to separate food business activities from household food preparation (usually means a separate kitchen)
  • commercial-grade surfaces and appliances
  • to secure the kitchen from children and pets.

Brisbane City Council will only consider applications for home-based food businesses if the nature of the food prepared and handled is low-risk. This includes baked goods such as cakes and cupcakes and other prescribed foods that are not potentially hazardous. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the individual risks of the proposal. 

Further requirements for a licensed kitchen are detailed on the Queensland Health website in the Design and fit-out guide for food businesses. The guide is also accessible on the How to start a food business page of the Local Government Toolbox website.

When you need a licence

Home-based food businesses that need a licence include:

  • home-based preparation of food for sale at a market or fete
  • bed and breakfast accommodation
  • home-based catering
  • motel kitchens that also serve as kitchens for owners or on-site managers
  • cooking demonstrations where the demonstrator supplies the ingredients and the participants consume the prepared food.

When a licence is not needed

You do not need a food licence for food prepared in the home on a commercial basis for:

  • cooking demonstrations where the participants supply the ingredients, help with the food preparation and then consume it
  • in-home support services for an individual.

Other approvals

Running a business from home may also require planning approval for a 'home business'.

Other options

If a home-based food business is not an option, consider one of the following options.

Subleasing

You could sublease an approved existing commercial kitchen such as a restaurant, Queensland Meals on Wheels premises or private school tuckshop. Simply apply for your own food licence for food manufacturing or catering for that location.

You will need a letter of permission from the primary licensee and must establish rosters and separate storage areas for your goods. Subleasing a public school tuckshop is not as straightforward as they are exempt from food licences as a government organisation. However, subleases are not exempt and require the full application process for a new food manufacturing or catering facility.

Temporary food stall licence

You could apply for a temporary food stall licence and do all the preparation and food cooking at the market stall rather than making changes to your home.

Fees

As a general guide, for a home-based kitchen with less than 250 square metres, the following fees may apply for the 2019-20 financial year.

Small business fee reduction

If you run a small business, you may be eligible for a small business fee reduction.

Type Fees Small business fee reduction
Food business design application $390.35 100%
Food business licence application $789.55 50% for new application
10% for renewal

These fees do not attract GST.

If you require a food safety program for the business, an additional fee is charged.

How to apply

The application process for a home-based business has a number of steps. You can complete all steps online using the Application for food business approvals online form.

Before submitting an application, review helpful tips about preparing an application and common application problems to avoid.

The food business licence roadmap (PDF - 61kb) consists of two stages. Stage 1 is design assessment and stage 2 is food business licence assessment.

Stage 1: Design assessment

Application for design assessment

Firstly, lodge your application. It takes approximately 20 working days to assess.

Ensure you:

Stage 2: Food business licence assessment

Application for food business licence

After you receive approval for the design assessment and the fit-out has started, you must apply for a food business licence. You must submit this no more than 30 days before the desired operation start date.

The process

Lodge the food business licence using the Application for food business approvals online form.

Council's Environmental Health Officer will conduct a final site inspection before you can start operating.

You will be issued the food business licence when the completed fit-out has been approved.

Food safety program accreditation

food safety program accreditation is generally not required for a home-based food business. However, if you plan to run catering as a part of your business, use the Application for food business approvals online form to apply for the food safety program accreditation at the same time as you lodge your food licence application.

Find out more about food safety programs.

Food safety supervisor notification

You must notify Council of your food safety supervisor within 30 days of the food business licence issue date. All licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety supervisor. The licensee can notify Council:

Find out more about food safety supervisors.

Preparing for Council inspection

Council's Environmental Health Officer will conduct a final inspection of the food premises before you start trading. This inspection ensures construction is in accordance with the approved design plans. To arrange your final inspection, contact Council approximately one week before construction is due to finish.

Application assessment

Council will conduct a full Eat Safe audit of the premises prior to issuing the food business licence.

Find out more information about Eat Safe Brisbane.

Potentially hazardous food

You must store potentially hazardous food below 5 degrees Celsuis or above 60 degrees Celsius to minimise the growth of bacteria in the food.

Examples of potentially hazardous food include:

  • raw and cooked meat or foods containing meat, such as casseroles, curries and lasagne
  • dairy products (e.g. milk, custard, dairy-based desserts)
  • seafood (excluding live seafood)
  • processed fruits and vegetables (e.g. salads)
  • cooked rice and pasta
  • foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich foods, such as quiche and soy products
  • foods that contain these foods such as sandwiches and rolls.

More information

The Local Government Toolbox provides helpful tools and resources.

For more information, phone Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263).

You can also visit Queensland Government website to download the Home-based food business fact sheet which may also help you with your business set up.

Last updated:12 September 2019