Food businesses

Cessnock City Council regularly inspects local retail food businesses to verify compliance with the Food Standards Code.

Inspections focus on the safe preparation and storage of food, the cleanliness of the premises, and skills and knowledge of food handlers. The suitability of the fit out and fixtures within the premises are also monitored.

We take a risk-based approach to food business activities and conduct regular inspections.


All retail food businesses operating within the Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA) must be registered with Council.

Food businesses include:

  • cafes, restaurants and takeaways
  • hotels and motels (preparing food)
  • child care centres and school canteens
  • home-based food retail businesses
  • mobile food vendors
  • businesses operating at temporary events

To register a food business, please complete the Food Business Registration Form.

Home-based food businesses

Domestic kitchens may be suitable for the production of low risk foods. Home manufacturing involves the handling of low risk food for sale at a residential premises using an existing domestic kitchen or a purpose built kitchen, within the residential premises.

Before you begin home manufacturing, you need to check whether the activity is permitted based on the zoning of your land.

Minimum requirements

The requirements for home-based food businesses are the same as for other retail food businesses. 

Adequate cleaning and sanitising procedures must be demonstrated including:

  • double bowl sink, hand soap and single use towel, dishwasher and/or chemical sanitiser
  • benches and floors that can be easily cleaned
  • safe food storage such as adequate refrigeration
  • effective pest control
  • adequate waste disposal
  • impeccable food handler hygiene

It’s recommended that you hire or lease an approved commercial kitchen if producing high risk foods such as sandwiches with meat, egg or dairy based fillings, curries and casseroles, baby foods, pates or any food products licensed by the NSW Food Authority. 

Contact your local sporting club, school canteen, and community hall or bowling club to see if they hire out their kitchen.

Council inspections

To determine if a home kitchen is suitable, business are assessed based on the type of food they're producing and the risks associated with the production.

The risk category determines whether or not regular inspections are conducted by Council.

An annual administration fee applies for inspected businesses and an inspection fee applies (per inspection). Fees are calculated in accordance with Council's Fees & Charges.

Mobile and temporary food businesses

Temporary food businesses sell food from a temporary structure at temporary events such as fairs, festivals, markets and shows. A mobile food business is a vehicle used for on-site food preparation, such as a food truck.

All mobile and temporary food businesses must comply with the Food Standards Code 

If you operate a mobile or temporary food business, you must:

  1. Register with your home jurisdiction.
  2. Provide notification of your intention to trade at a specific location within the Cessnock LGA. To notify us, fill the Notification Form.

What is home jurisdiction?

Your home jurisdiction is the local government area in which you prepare or store food to be sold from the premises.

If food isn't prepared or stored before hand, your home jurisdiction will be the location where you store your van or equipment.

If none of the above apply, your home jurisdiction is your business or home address.

To find out what local government area your relevant address is in visit Office of Local Government website.

What if my home jurisdiction is interstate?

Your registering council is determined by your first trading location each year.

For example, if you are from Melbourne (Victoria) and the first place you trade is Cessnock (NSW), then Cessnock City Council is your registering council for that year.

Before you notify us of your intention to trade

Before completing the notification form, make sure you have evidence of your registration with your home Council. This could be:

  • an inspection report
  • a receipt for your annual administration charge
  • an official acknowledgment on a council letter head or from a council email

You won't be able to complete the notification form without registration evidence. Contact your home council to obtain your registration.

You'll also be asked to provide evidence of the last inspection conducted. An inspection is to be expected if you submit the notification form without an inspection report (inspection fees apply).

There's no fee to submit your notification of intention to trade. Providing false, misleading or incomplete information invalidates the notification.

Notification forms must be submitted before trading and can be submitted at any time, including after hours. Acknowledgement of successful notifications are often received via email within 30 minutes of lodgement.

You must have a copy of the acknowledgement whilst trading (printed or electronic copy are accepted). Trading without a valid acknowledgement notification is an offence.

Food Safety Supervisor (FSS)

Most food businesses serving potentially hazardous food, that is ready to eat and/or served in the package in which it is prepared, must have at least one trained Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) on staff.

School canteens, childcare centres, delicatessens, green grocers, seafood retailers who sell only raw food, and not-for-profit, community or charitable organisations are exempt.

"I'm Alert" food safety training

"I'm Alert" is a free online training to assist food businesses ensuring that food is handled in a safe and hygienic manner.

The program is easy to follow, and include entertaining presentations and interactive quizzes. An acknowledgement form can be printed upon completion and kept as part of your staff records.

On entering the "I'm Alert" website, you'll be asked to provide your name, position, and the name of the organisation you work for. The sole purpose of collecting these details is for inclusion on the acknowledgement forms.  Your details will not be accessed, stored, or used by Council.

Start the "I'm Alert" training


The NSW Food Act 2003 and NSW Food Regulation 2015 provide regulatory framework to ensure food is:

The NSW Food Authority is responsible for regulating and monitoring food safety across the entire food industry supply chain in NSW. Council works in conjunction the NSW Food Authority.