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Selling home-cooked food online?

Australian state governments require home food businesses to notify local councils or food authorities about their activities.

The rise of online food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Menu Log and Deliveroo has not only boosted sales of restaurants, food chains and cafes but has also helped in creating a space for the home-food businesses.

Food cooked in small quantities for a single person to a small group is increasingly being sold via online platforms such as Facebook and Gumtree.

According to Food Authority New South Wales, “a food business is any food preparation, food storage or food distribution activity which handles food for sale, including not-for-profit organisations offering in-kind rewards.”

These online businesses are providing food mainly to other migrants as well as thousands of international students currently studying in Australia who yearn for home-cooked foods from their countries of origin.

The food ranges from items for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as for special occasions such as birthdays and get-togethers.

But while these home caterers have found customers, according to Australia laws they have to get in touch with their local councils or state food authorities and notify them of their activities.

SBS Urdu contacted several of these businesses and most of them have little to no knowledge about the rules.

An online home-food business representative told SBS Urdu that there is a lack of awareness about these local rules and how they apply to a home food business.

“Many people are simply trying to make a living as there aren’t many jobs in the market matching the skill sets. So they are working from home to earn some money.”

One of the local catering businesses, Red Chilli Caterers provides food service to the South Asian customers at wedding functions, local gatherings and events in Sydney.

Owner Mr Munawwar says Pakistanis and Indians love their country's cuisines and want them at their family occasions.

“Food quality, hygiene and safety standards are a top priority for us. We are in touch with the council so our food processing system is compliant with the regulations.”

"We always make sure that our food is of the highest quality and the whole process from preparation, cooking and selling is according to the food standard of the local council and the state government.”

Mr Munawar says that many people are now selling food through social media without following proper rules and regulations.

“Some of them don’t know about the laws of the land which might be troublesome for them in future.”

Rules and regulations

Every state in Australia has rules and regulations for home food businesses. Here is a quick guide to know what rules and regulations apply if you are starting or have already started a home food business in Australia.  SBS Urdu takes a look at the regulations in New South Wales.

Home food business and local laws

The Food Authority NSW says that if the handling of food for sale occurs at an address which is also a domestic premise, there are special food safety issues to consider. The authority also states the local councils regulate all domestic kitchens where food is prepared and directly sold to the final consumers.

Special rules apply to those food businesses that work from their domestic premises and are identified as:

  • Home-based catering businesses
  • Preparing food for sale at markets or school canteens in a domestic kitchen
  • Bed and breakfast accommodation
  • Home-based childcare for a fee involving the provision of food
  • Restaurants with accommodation for the restaurant owner, family or staff.

Role of the local council and food authority

In the local council of Canterbury Bankstown (New South Wales), there are currently 1,500 food businesses operating including home-based food businesses. The council’s website says it conducts a minimum of one inspection per annum of all food premises operating within the council to ensure compliance with food safety requirements.

Council's Environmental Health Officers undertake inspections of all food premises to ensure compliance with food safety requirements and to minimise the likelihood of foodborne illness within the community.

Businesses that sell food directly to the customer are required to notify their councils about their work and activity. However, if the food is being sold to a café or a restaurant then NSW Food Authority is to be notified. The authority can be notified via www.foodnotify.nsw.gov.au

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The food businesses are also required to follow the Food Standards Code, including:

1 Standard 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements

2  Standard 3.2.3 Food Premises and Equipment

3  Part 1.2 Labelling and other information requirements

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand develops these codes that regulate the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals. The code also covers the composition of some foods e.g. dairy, meat and beverages as well as standards developed by new technologies such as genetically modified foods.

Preparation, packaging and storage

Business owners also need to make sure that they have contacted the council before starting their food. Following are some important tips the food sellers must keep in mind include handling, storage and packaging of the food products.

  • Keep cold food properly refrigerated
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Handle food hygienically
  • Store food safely
  • Product labelling
  • Keep records
  • Cleaning
  • Good food handling practices

 

Australian states and territories' regulations for home food businesses.

Western Australia

https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/business-advice/business-premises/working-from-home

https://www.armadale.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/assets/documents/docs/Public_Health/Info%20-%20Food%20business%20operating%20from%20home%20kitchen.pdf

ACT – Australian Capital Territory

https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/2156/~/register-a-food-business

Victoria

https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/food-business-licensing-information-for-businesses/resource/c6ed9781-e515-42ca-9d85-6e94269d644a

Northern Territory

https://nt.gov.au/industry/hospitality/register-or-renew-a-food-business

South Australia

https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/protecting+public+health/food+standards/starting+a+food+business

New South Wales

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/retail/home-based-mixed-businesses

Tasmania

https://www.hobartcity.com.au/Business/Food-businesses

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