Home-based food business
Starting a food business from home can be a convenient way to launch a small business. To take advantage of this opportunity, you need to understand the fit-out requirements for home-based food businesses.
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 in the design and fit-out guide for food businesses. The guide is located on the application process and assessment 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.
Running a business from home may also require planning approval for a 'home business'.
If a home-based food business is not an option, you can consider one of the following options.
You could sublease an approved existing commercial kitchen such as a restaurant, Queensland Meals on Wheels premises or private school tuckshop and 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 doing all the preparation and food cooking at the market stall rather than making changes to your home.
As a general guide, the fees in the table below (2018-19 financial year) apply for a home-based kitchen less than 250 square metres.
These fees do not attract the Goods and Services Tax (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.
The food business licence roadmap (PDF - 61kb) follows two stages.
Stage 1: Design assessment
Application for design assessment
You must lodge this application first. It takes approximately 20 working days to assess. Ensure you:
- have design plans ready
- lodge a design assessment using the application for food business approvals online form (pay with Visa or Mastercard)
- read the food business design and fit-out guide for food businesses (Local Government Toolbox website application process and assessment page).
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. To apply:
- lodge the food business licence using the application for food business approvals online form (pay with Visa or Mastercard)
- an 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 is approved.
Food safety program accreditation
A food safety program accreditation is generally not required for a home-based food business. However, if you plan to cater as a part of your business, use the application for food business approvals online form. Apply for the food safety program accreditation at the same time as you lodge your food licence application.
Food safety supervisor notification
You must notify Council of your food safety supervisor within 30 days of the food business licence issue. All licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety supervisor. The licensee can notify Council:
- when you make your licence application using the application for food business approvals online form
- by phoning Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Find out more about food safety supervisors.
Preparing for Council inspection
A Council 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.
To limit delays, use the food business final inspection checklist (Word - 134kb) to confirm that essential works are complete before the date of your final inspection.
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.
You must store potentially hazardous food below 5 degrees centigrade or above 60 degrees centigrade 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.
The Local Government Toolbox provides helpful tools and resources.
For more information, phone Council's Business Hotline on 133 BNE (133 263).