Food premises inspections, food complaints and food business notification requirements.
Consumers have the right to expect the food that they purchase and eat is protected from microbiological contamination, free from foreign matter and not subjected to poor food handling practices.
Food premises inspections
It is estimated that at least 1.5 million Australians suffer from a food related illness each year.
There are approximately 150 food business premises within the Whyalla City Council area. Routine inspections are carried out by the Environmental Health Officer to ensure compliance with the Food Act 2001, Food Regulations 2017 and the Food Safety Standards.
Inspection include assessment of the following areas:
- Food handling;
- Food hygiene;
- Cleanliness of premises;
- Pest control;
- Waste management;
- Fixtures and fittings; and
- Structural condition of premises.
Routine inspections are subject to fees, see below:
- $94.00 (GST inclusive) for small food businesses;
- $235.00 (GST inclusive) for large food businesses (more than 20 full time equivalent food handling employees);
- NO CHARGE for community groups; and
- NO CHARGE for public event inspections.
Food business notification requirements
All businesses selling food are required to notify their local council. Under the Food Act 2001 a food business means a business, enterprise or activity (other than a primary food production business) that involves:
- The handling of food intended for sale; or
- the sale of food.
Regardless of whether the food business, enterprise or activity concerned is of a commercial, charitable or community nature or whether it involves the handling or sale of food on one occasion only.
Food business even includes businesses like chemists, cinemas, corner stores, petrol stations and swimming pools, if they sell packaged or any other type of food. Food businesses, from major food manufacturers to the local church group that holds a once a year food fair, have defined responsibilities under the legislation to ensure the safety of food.
Food business notification can be done by contacting council's Environmental Health Officer for a notification form or by downloading and completing the attached form. There is no fee of notification; however there are penalties for not notifying council.
Food complaints can be reported to council's Environmental Health Officer on 8640 3444 for investigation. Complaints may be made on a variety of food related issues which may include but are not limited to issues with; unclean premises, poor food handling practices, food poisoning, microbiological contamination and foreign matter.
For our investigations to be made more effective it is advised that you take the following steps:
- Don't remove any foreign objects from the food if possible.
- Keep the product in the fridge or freezer until bought into council.
- Keep any packaging and proof of purchase of the product.
- Record any details of this complaint, the date and location of purchase, where the product is stored and when the problem was first noticed.
- Contact council as soon as possible after the event to allow the investigation to begin.
Many temporary events involving the sale or supply of food occur in the community each year examples of such events include; community fundraisers, cake stalls, school fetes, charity events, sausage sizzles, festivals, shows and concerts. If you are hosting or are part of a temporary event there are safety measures that should be considered. These are included in the Whyalla City Council Guidelines for temporary food premises
Guidelines for home based businesses
If your producing food at home for sale directly to persons and/or for sale to premises such as cafes and grocery stores and/or at events such as fetes and fairs then you are a home based food business and applies to you.
What facilities will I need?
Facilities must be designed and constructed to minimise the opportunity for food contamination.
As a minimum the following must be met:
- A separate room or building must be provided exclusively for the handling, storage and preparation of food for sale and must be physically separated by a wall or self closing lockable door from the rest of the domestic premises/environment.
- Surfaces including walls, floors, ceiling and equipment must be designed to be smooth, impervious and able to be easily and effectively cleaned and sanitised.
- Equipment used should be of commercial design and of sufficient capacity to cope with requirements of the activity.
- Hot and cold water must be connected to required sinks and designated hand wash basin.
Health and hygiene requirements
Every person in the food preparation and storage area needs to comply with the requirements of the Food Act 2001, Food Regulations 2002 and Food Safety Standards, with particular attention to the following:
- Family members or other persons not directly involved in the preparation are restricted in their access to the area.
- No persons shall smoke in the food preparation and storage area.
- Normal domestic duties are not permitted in the food preparation and storage area if you do not have permission to use the domestic kitchen for the business activity.
- Household pets of all kinds are not to have access to, or be in the food preparation or storage area at any time.
- Household insecticides, chemicals and medications must not be kept in the food preparation and storage area.
- Decorations, pot plants and curtains which render various surfaces incapable of being adequately cleaned and sanitised must be avoided.
Food manufactured for sale in South Australia needs to comply with product labelling requirements including nutrition panels, ingredients lists and supplier details. For further information or to see if your business needs to meet these requirements refer to the Guidelines of packaged food for retail sale.
Responsibilities of home based food businesses
Home based food businesses are subject to the same food safety and hygiene requirements as commercial businesses and as such are subject to the same non-compliance penalties.
You must have regard for cleanliness, temperature control and appropriate preparation, display and sale of foods.
Foods such as raw and ready-to-eat meats, poultry and fish or items containing these, milk and foods containing milk such as custards and cream, cooked pasta and rice, salads, cut fruits and vegetables, lasagne's, curry, sushi, sandwiches, etc. are classified as potentially hazardous foods and need to be kept under correct temperature controls to minimise the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
Businesses are required to comply with the following legislation and standards:
- Food Act 2001
- Food Regulations 2002
- Food Safety Standards
- The National Code of Practice for the Design, Construction and Fit-out of Food Premises.
Under the requirements of the Food Act 2001, all food businesses are required to notify their Local Council (the enforcement agency) of the food business details via a Food Business Notification Form. Businesses are required to notify of their operations within 14 days of beginning operations.
Can I use my domestic kitchen for a home based food business?
Domestic kitchen facilities are generally deemed to be unsuitable for use unless the use is limited to small scale and /or low risk food activities; this will be determined by Council's Environmental Health Officer. Generally a separate room or building is required to comply.
Where a domestic kitchen is approved for use the following conditions also apply:
- A separate area or clearly identifiable containers must be used for the storage of all ingredients for the business.
- Separate and clearly identifiable utensils must be utilised for the manufacture and preparation of food for sale.
- A separate fridge and freezer are required from those used for domestic items.
- Designated hand wash only facilities with warm running portable water are required.
All food businesses within South Australia are subject to routine food inspections by an Environmental Health Officer. Within the Whyalla Council area these inspections are undertaken on a random unannounced basis and the frequency of the inspections are determined using a risk rating approach. Inspections are subject to a fee of $90.00+GST for small businesses and $225.00+GST for large businesses.
Other council requirements
The planning department at your local council need to be consulted with to determine whether your food business falls within the definition of a 'home activity' as described in the Development Act 1993.
Where building work is proposed or required, a Development Application will be required to be lodged with Council's Development Services Department, all necessary approvals must be attained from Council's Planning and Building Departments for any construction.
This guideline does not seek to advise on all matters of food safety and hygiene. To avoid non-compliance and associated penalties, it is strongly advised that you consult your Environmental Health Officer prior to starting a home based food business. It is also highly recommended that you read Chapter 3 of the Food Safety Standards which details specific requirements of food businesses in general. Further enquiries can be made by calling 8640 3444 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org