Start a new food business

All Victorian food businesses that handle, prepare, package, store, serve, supply or convey food must be registered or notify under the Food Act.

If you are thinking of starting your own food business in a fixed premise such as a café, restaurant, factory or other permanent structure there are some important steps you will need to follow.

If your business is not a fixed premises, these links will take you to relevant registration information:

Step one - Research your idea and form a business plan

Formulating a business plan is your first and most important step to ensure your business will be sustainable.

Increase your chances of success in your business by checking the tool kit on the Business Victoria website and formulating a business plan. 

Our website also has information on starting and growing your business in Geelong.

The Department of Health has some videos on starting a food business.

Step two - Approval from other authorities

Permits or exemptions may be required from other authorities prior to applying for a registration under the Food Act.

These may include, but are not limited to:

Step three - Application process

The application process for registering your food business will be slightly different for the type, or classification of the food you are selling and where you are selling it.

When you are ready to register your business you can submit your application. We ask that you provide Council with a copy of plans or photos of the premises showing the fit-out.

The plans should include:

  • The layout of all fixtures, fittings and equipment
  • A description of materials to be used for surface finishes including walls, floors and bench tops. (A legend on the side of the plan may be used)

An Environmental Health Officer may request further information and/or an inspection of the premises prior to the registration being finalised. We are only a phone call away to discuss your construction or refurbishment. 

Step four - Premises construction

When designing or re-designing a food premise you may need to be aware of:

Step five - Food Safety Program

Step six - Food Safety Supervisor

Food businesses that have a food safety program must have a nominated food safety supervisor (FSS). These are businesses or food activities that involved Class 1 or 2 food.

The Food Act requires the nominated FSS for your business to be trained in this role. There area a number of Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in Geelong, who offer some FSS training.

The Department of Health website has the latest FSS information.

Step seven - Opening for business

An inspection of your premises must occur PRIOR to the business opening. Please advise the officer of your planned opening date as soon as you know so that an inspection can take place once all works are completed.  

The officer will then give you verbal approval to open the business. It is illegal to operate an unregistered business and penalties may apply, including court action.

We will conduct a full food safety assessment, approximately 30 days after opening to ensure compliance, especially with regard to your food safety program and the records that you are required to keep.

Step eight - Registration and compliance

Once the officer is satisfied that all requirements have been met then a Certificate of Registration will be issued.

It should be noted that food premises performance is expected to be consistently maintained and additional fees above the annual registration fee may be expected should a food business not reach appropriate food safety levels during the year, these are referred to as performance fees.

Inspections will be carried out throughout the year to ensure compliance is maintained.

Other information which you should be familiar with:

Page last updated: Tuesday, 13 July 2021