**NOTE – This post is informational regarding food licensing in Australia
Do I Need a Food License to Sell Cakes? What do I need to have a registered kitchen? Does it have to be a separate commercial kitchen?
I am only want to start a hobby cake business. I don’t need a license, do I? … I have been doing the research but getting very confused with all the information.
Phew… It must be exhausting inside your head! It’s all good, because you are in the right place.
Food Licensing, What You Need to Know: For any food business you require a Food License.
This is done through your local Council Health Department (otherwise known as Environmental Health Department).
There are 3 types of Food Licenses in Australia-
- 52 Day License
- Domestic Food License
- Commercial Food License
The 52 Day License is if you are planning on selling your cakes at one market. It allows you to bake one day of the week, for every week of the year (for example 52 Fridays, for Saturday markets.) Though this type of license is rare, nowadays, it is the most affordable option.
The Domestic Food License is baking cakes from your normal household kitchen. With only minor requirements such as temperature guages for fridges, no animals inside, double sinks, paper towel racks, separate fridge and pantry. This is the best option for starting a cake business and cost effective around $400 per year.
The Commercial Food License is for cafe’s, restaurants, and commercial grade caking. It requires a commercial kitchen premises, separate from the family kitchen, with stainless steel benches, double sinks, coved flooring, splashback and more. This fit-out is an expensive undertaking (I would suggest $10 000) and the license costs approximately $800 per year. The alternative to a Commercial Food License and separate kitchen is to hire a community kitchen, which already has a Food License for the premises. (Think about Nursing Homes, Meals on Wheels, PCYC, School Canteen.)
Note – the year this was first published (2014) there was a lot of talk about ”new licensing laws” that Councils can no longer approve Domestic Food Licensing. While this has started in some councils, this isn’t Australia wide.
To find out your Food Licensing options, ring and talk to your own local council.
Ring your own council about Food Licensing (they are all different!)
I have always had a Domestic Food License. This was for my business in Proserpine (Queensland). All of my Franchisees have operated off a Domestic Food License, also (Airlie Beach, Moranbah, Emerald, Mackay, Townsville, Perth).
What To Say When Ringing the Council – I have experience with dozens of different councils and I have some secrets, to help you get a Domestic Food License.
And heads up – this has worked over 90% of the time! The ‘thing’ with Council’s is they all interpret the Food Act differently. There is a way to talk to them to get positive results.
The ‘Script’ to Use When Talking to Your Local Council – This script’ that makes it much more likely to get a Food License approved. Use this, word-for-word, below. You – ”I would like to get more information for a Domestic Food License to sell cupcakes and cakes at the markets.” (Simple and effective. The key words is #domestic & #cakes. Oh, and if the councils asks …) Council – ”Do you use fresh cream” You – ”No”
Final Notes on Food Licensing –
- If you are making cakes for your friends and family as a hobby, you don’t need a Food License.
- All Councils are ‘special’. Each Council, department and worker deal with inquiries differently.
- The Domestic Food License is the ideal food license to apply for.
- If you have a cat or dog living inside, you won’t be able to get a Food License.
- If you have young children, the Council may ask you to put up child gates to the kitchen, while you are baking. This is only in some cases.
- If you rent your house, you can still get a Domestic Food License. (If the Council specifies any household alterations, though, it may become a bit tricky with getting renovations done.)
- The Council may try and tell you it is a Commercial Food License you need. Stay strong (& pleasant!) Try and talk it through with the person, as to the reason. (Reminder – cake is a low risk food, with no customers, no employees and everything is pre-packaged in boxes before it leaves the house. Just like the markets.)
- Have a positive mindset!
- When ringing the Council be helpful and friendly.
- The Council’s generally discourage any new type of Food License Application. (It increases their work load.) That’s okay because that is their job. Our job is to try and live our dreams!
- Don’t let them discourage you. Just say ”thank you so much for your help.” Then ring back again another day (and speak to someone different.)
- Don’t have your cranky pants on. It isn’t going to help get your dream business up and running.
- Time of the day and time of the week you ring is important. Eg. What if it is nearly lunchtime and they are hungry? They are trying to get off the phone. Friday afternoon they are just counting down until they are out of the office.
- Ring preferable a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday between 9-11 am.
- The Council still insist upon a Commercial Food License and/or separate kitchen. (Even though I personally believe this to be incorrect, I can’t change the Council’s.)
- Apply for a Domestic Food License selling cupcakes at the markets. It is a great starting point!
- Be persistent. Be positive.
Oh, hey. I know there are peeps out there that will say different. There are people that will tell you you definitely need a separate commercial kitchen, and that is it. Their opinions, ideas and experience are valid, as that is what they have done or hear about in the past. That is their experiences.
The above is my experience and opinion. At the end of the day, we all have a story to tell and want to share.
I would love to hear your story! Do you have a Food License? What type of license? What special requirements, if any did your local council specify? Comment below.
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