As featured in the September edition of the QHA Magazine
A vital component of operating a pub or hotel in the hospitality industry is the service of food and beverages. To ensure the safety and health of consumers, specific legislative requirements govern the application and issuance of good and hygiene licenses (Food Licences) which allow operators to serve food at their premises. This article highlights the applicable legislative requirements and the process for applying and obtaining a Food Licence for your business.
In Queensland, the Food Act 2006 and the Food Safety Standards provide parameters which aim to ensure that food is safe and suitable for consumption. Under the Food Act 2006 all food businesses, including pubs and hotels, must comply with specific requirements to obtain and maintain a good licence. The Act sets out the fundamental obligations related to food safety, handling, preparation and storage.
Under the Act, a person must not carry on a licensed food business unless that person holds a licence to carry on the business. A licensed food business includes a business that manufactures food or involves sale of unpackaged food by retail (which would include restaurants, catering businesses, meals supplied with accommodation and takeaway).
In order to obtain the relevant licence to operate a licensed food business, an application must be made to the local government for the area in which the pub or hotel is situated. For example, where your premises is based in the Brisbane CBD, you will need to apply to the Brisbane City Council for a food licence. In the application, you will need to include basic contact information such as:
- a name, and where the entity is a corporation, the name of the corporation and its directors;
- address of the applicant;
- address of the premises for the licence;
- a brief description of the food business proposed (for hotels and pubs this would be the operation of a restaurant within a liquor licenced premises); and
- whether the applicant has a criminal history and details of any offences (for corporations this information is required of any executive officers of the company).
Where you intend to provide off-site catering of food, you will also need to specify this in your application for a food licence. A designated food safety supervisor (FSS) must be appointed for each establishment. The FSS is responsible for overseeing food handling practices, training staff, and ensuring compliance with food safety standards. The FSS must hold a valid statement of attainment for completing the required food safety training. An application may be granted if the local government is satisfied that you are a suitable person to hold the licence and the premises is suitable to carry on the proposed food business.
The Act incorporates the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code as a regulator standard. The Code outlines specific food safety standards and requirements that must be adhered to by food businesses. The local government authority is responsible for conducting regular inspections of food businesses to ensure compliance with the food safety standards, and inspections may be conducted unannounced and at ransom. The inspecting officer may assess various aspects of the premises including cleanliness, food handling practices, staff training and record-keeping.
If you are found to be non-compliant, there may be enforcement action including fines, suspension or cancellation of your food licence. You may alternatively receive an improvement notice which will require you to remedy contraventions identified from an inspection. If your food licence is suspended or cancelled and you are no longer allowed to serve food, this may affect your obligations under your liquor licence. It is essential for pub and hotel owners to maintain proper documentation and remain in compliance with their obligations as to retain their food licence.
If you require any assistance with the application process or understanding your obligations, please contact me.