Who needs a food business licence?

If you handle or prepare unpackaged food, you will generally require a food business licence.

Examples of unpackaged foods that require a licence are:

  • fruit or vegetable juice that is processed at place of sale
  • cakes, muffins or biscuits with fresh cream or custard in the filling or icing
  • takeaway food such as hot chips and hamburgers
  • making food by combining ingredients such as jams, sauces, curries or soup
  • sandwiches, including toasting sandwiches at a cafe
  • bulk coffee that is repackaged into smaller containers
  • any other unpackaged food that is not exempt.

This is not an exhaustive list and if you still have queries about the type of product you are going to prepare and sell, contact council.

Who does not need a food business licence?

You do not need a licence for:

  • selling pre-packaged food only
  • selling whole fruit and vegetables only
  • production of primary produce such as milk or meat at a butcher, with accreditation. Refer to the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000 for more information
  • selling drinks such as tea, coffee and soft drinks
  • selling alcohol. A liquor licence may be required to sell alcohol
  • selling pre-packaged fruit or vegetable juice. You do not need a food business licence for fruit and vegetable juice not prepared at the place of sale (e.g. ginger juice manufactured elsewhere), but you will need to comply with labelling requirements. and you may need a food manufacturer licence. Please note that if your business includes wholesale food manufacturing you will also require a documented food recall system.
  • selling snack foods that are not potentially hazardous, such as:
    • carob
    • chocolates
    • churros
    • confectionary
    • corn chips and potato chips
    • crackers
    • croissants
    • doughnuts
    • dried vegetable chips
    • friands
    • meat jerky (pre-packaged)
    • muesli bars
    • muffins (without fresh cream or custard in the filling or icing)
    • nuts
    • popcorn
    • pretzels
    • puffed rice
    • soy chips
    • toasted corn
  • selling seeds, spices and dried herbs
  • selling tea leaves
  • selling coffee beans and ground coffee
  • grinding coffee beans
  • selling ice and flavoured ice
  • selling the following foods when they are not potentially hazardous:
    • cereals
    • cocoa
    • coconut
    • uncooked couscous
    • crushed, puffed or toasted nuts, grains and seeds
    • edible oil, for example, olive oil, vegetable oil and macadamia oil
    • flour
    • legumes
    • lentils
    • noodles
    • oats
    • uncooked pasta
    • preparations for spreading on bread, for example, honey, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, Vegemite, jam and marmalade
    • quinoa
    • sugar
    • syrups, for example, golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, malt syrup, glucose syrup and coconut syrup.

You may not need a food business licence for the activities listed but you still need to comply with the Food Act 2006.

Non-profit food businesses

Different rules apply to licensing of non-profit organisations.

  • Non-profit organisations need a licence when meals are served 12 or more times in a financial year. A meal is food that is meant to be eaten at a table with cutlery. Examples of a meal are:
    • casserole
    • roast meat and vegetables
    • curries and stir-fry
    • salad.

Examples of food that is not a meal:

    • pie and sausage roll
    • hot dog
    • hamburger and hot chips
    • sausage sizzle
    • soup in a cup.
  • Non-profit organisations don’t need a licence for these activities:
    • selling packaged food
    • selling unpackaged food that is not a meal
    • reheating or serving pre-prepared meals, for example, reheating frozen meals or making soup from a packet mix
    • selling food that is not potentially hazardous:
      • tea and coffee
      • biscuits and cakes
      • soft drink
      • confectionary and nuts
    • selling food that has a low risk of causing food poisoning:
      • whole fruit
      • toast
      • cereal
    • selling food that the customer helps to prepare, for example, a carer helping to prepare food at an accommodation facility
    • selling food as part of a training or educational activity, for example, a cooking course where the food produced is served to customers to raise money for the organisation
    • surf live saving clubs selling meals for a small price when a member of the club helps to prepare the meal.
  • You may not need a licence for these activities but all non-profit organisations still need to comply with the Food Act 2006. You can find more information in Queensland Health's Food safety in non-profit organisations.