Fact Sheets

Environmental Health Services has available for businesses or interested members of the community a range of

Information and Guidelines

Fact Sheets

Record Keeping - Templates

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a food business supply doggy bags to customers?
    • The term doggy bag comes from restaurants which have provided customers with left over food from their meal to take home for the family pet. However, today many customers will consume the food themselves at a later time. There are no laws that prohibit food businesses from supplying customers with doggy bags. It is the restaurant’s choice whether or not they decide to allow customers to take home doggy bags.
    • Food from doggy bags can be exposed to food safety hazards such as temperature abuse and inappropriate food handling by the customer. If a food business chooses to supply doggy bags to customers, they should take the following precautions:
    • Have a set procedure for dealing with doggy bags and ensure all staff are instructed on this procedure.
      Transfer the food into a new container suitable for food.
      Have an instruction sticker or leaflet which explains suitable storage and reheating requirements for the food.
  • Are food handlers required to wear gloves?

      Food laws do not require food handlers to wear gloves when handling food. However, food handlers are required to take precautions to ensure food is adequately protected from contamination such as washing their hands and using tongs.

      Gloves can be an effective means for protecting food from contamination however have their limitations and should be changed regularly. They should never replace washing your hands.

  • Can I operate a food business from home in a domestic kitchen?

      Firstly, to operate a commercial business from a residential property you will require approval from Planning and Development.

      The fit out and construction of a domestic kitchen will need to comply with the requirements under the Food Act 2006. The majority of domestic kitchens in their current form will not meet these requirements.

      However, you may apply for an exemption if you only intend on selling unpackaged snack food for a fete or market only. This means the food would need to exchange hands at the fete/market only.

      Unpackaged snack food includes:

      • Corn chips or potato chips
      • Biscuits or cakes
      • Confectionary
      • Nuts
      • Dried or glazed fruit

      Although an exemption for the fit-out may be granted by council, a food licence will still be required to operate.

      The manufacture of food such as decorative wedding and birthday cakes in domestic kitchens for commercial sale or profit will not be approved by council.

      Where food is intended to be given away to a non-profit organisation, the manufacture of food at that person’s home is exempt from compliance with the Food Act 2006, e.g. baking a cake at home to give to a junior football club committee for sale by the committee at a fundraising event. The person’s home is not subject to any structural, licensing, inspection, enforcement, penalty or compliance provisions.

      The non-profit organisation that receives food made at home must check that the food supplied is received safely, under temperature control and the food is protected from contamination.

      Additional documents:

  • What to do if you suspect you have food poisoning

      Firstly, if you are ill you should seek assistance from your doctor.

      Queensland Health is the lead agency for investigating incidences of food poisoning outbreaks. Without a diagnosis from a doctor or a faecal or sputum sample, it can be difficult to ascertain if you have suffered from food poisoning.

      Food poisoning can be acquired up to 72 hours or more prior to noticeable symptoms appearing. Therefore, it is important to provide Queensland Health with as much information as possible about any food you have eaten over the last few days.

      Samples of any leftover food you have eaten will also assist in determining what type of food poisoning you have suffered from.

  • Are tea towels allowed to be used in a food business?

      Food laws do not specifically prohibit the use of tea towels. However, food businesses do have an overall legal responsibility to ensure they do not contaminate food.

      If a businesses uses tea towels they should ensure:

      • they are washed and sanitised regularly
        they are not used as a means to cover and protect food
        they are not used a means of washing or drying hands
        they are not used if wet or visibly soiled or dirty.
  • What do I do if I have seen a food business handling food unsafely?

      Council investigates incidences of unsafe handling practices and conduct regular inspections of food businesses to ensure food is handled in a safe manner.

      Contact council if you would like to make a formal complaint.

  • Can council take action if the food I ordered was not cooked the way I like?
    • Council’s role is to ensure food businesses reduce the risk of unsafe or unsuitable food being sold. As long as the food has been prepared safely, council can not provide assistance if the food is not appetizing, is burnt or not cooked to your satisfaction.
  • How can I tell if a food business is licensed?
    • It is a requirement that all food businesses display a copy of their Food Licence issued by council at their business in a place visible to the public.
  • How often do food businesses get inspected by council?

      Council inspects businesses as often as needed to ensure they are handling food safely. The number of times a food business is inspected is determined by:

      • performance, i.e. how well they have performed on previous inspections and whether any justified complaints have been received
        risk category, i.e. whether they prepare food for high risk groups such as the sick, elderly or young or cater for large numbers of people.

      Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) conduct unannounced inspections, meaning the food business is not aware that they will be inspected. This gives the EHO a good indication whether the food business is complying with food laws.

  • What do I need to do to start up a food business?
  • Do food handlers have to wear a hat when handling food?

      There is no law that requires food handlers to wear a hat when handling food. However, food handlers and businesses do have an overall legal responsibility to ensure they do not contaminate food. Some food businesses may choose to have a policy requiring their workers to wear hats when handling food, particularly those with long hair.

  • What is a Food Safety Supervisor?
  • What type of thermometer is a food business required to use?

      The Food Safety Standards requires food businesses that store, transport, prepare, cook or sell potentially hazardous food to have a thermometer that can be inserted into the food. This means it must have a probe. The thermometer must also be accurate to +/- 1°C.

      Equipment that is used to store and display food such as cool rooms, bain-marie units and sandwich display units may have a thermometer as part of the equipment. This thermometer will measure the operational temperature of the unit. While these thermometers are useful, they do not measure the actual temperature of the food and you will still need a separate probe thermometer to check the actual temperature of the food.

  • Are animals allowed in a food business?
    • Under food laws, a food business must not permit live animals (except for assistance animals or seafood and other fish or shellfish) in areas in which food is handled or served. A food business may choose to allow companion dogs in outdoor, footpath or alfresco dining areas, providing certain criteria are met.