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Experience Host

Experiences Involving food in Melbourne

These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.

Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.

Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*

What are some of the basic principles?

Your guest’s health and safety should always come first. For example, it would be a good idea to take your guests to (or otherwise serve them food from) reputable restaurants, food trucks, or professional caterers who keep clean facilities, use fresh ingredients, and have a good food safety track record. Also ask your guests in advance about any food allergies they may have, or religious or philosophical codes that may impact what kind of food they eat.

My Experience will involve serving food to guests outside of a traditional restaurant, café, or food business. Are there any specific rules I need to follow?

If your Experience involves you selling or supplying any food to guests, even if it is only on one occasion, you're likely to be considered a food business. A "food business" is a business that handles food intended for sale or that sells food. "Sell" includes providing food within a package of goods or services for one inclusive charge, such as food provided along with accommodation or entertainment for a fixed price. "Food" effectively includes anything that is intended or offered for human consumption, and includes beverages.

If your Experience is a food business, you will need to comply with the applicable regulations (which includes those set out in the Food Act 1984 (Vic) and the Food Regulations 2015 (Vic), as well as any additional requirements in your local area), and you must ensure that the food you provide or sell is safe to eat.

There are four different classes of food businesses, each of which each has different requirements. These classes are:

  • Class 1 involves delivering meals to vulnerable persons such as patients in hospitals or those in aged care facilities.
  • Class 2 involves higher-risk food preparation activities where potentially hazardous foods (i.e. food that needs temperature control like eggs, cooked rice or mayonnaise) is reheated, such as in restaurants, cafes, pubs or fast-food chains.
  • Class 3 involves lower-risk food preparation activities where low-risk food (like cereal, bread or confectionery) is sold with the intention of being consumed immediately, such as in food trucks, bars or traditional bed and breakfasts.
  • Class 4 includes businesses providing low-risk, packaged food items, such as pre-packaged biscuits, cakes, and condiments, and also includes sausage sizzles and wine tastings.

Most Hosts providing food within an Experience will likely fall within a Class 2, 3 or 4 food business. In general, Class 2, 3 or 4 food businesses will not require a licence beyond registration or notification requirements, although these requirements may vary between local councils. Some requirements for food businesses are uniform across Victoria, which are:

  • Class 1 food businesses (and most Class 2 food businesses) which prepare and serve food that is (i) ready to eat, (ii) potentially hazardous (i.e. needs temperature control), and (iii) is not sold and served in the supplier's original packaging, must have at least one trained and appointed Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) who holds a current FSS certificate. To obtain a FSS certificate, a mandatory training course must be completed from an approved Registered Training Organisation under the FSS program. The training course generally takes one full day to complete. For further information, please refer to the FFS flowchart provided by Health Vic. A business may be fined up to $1585, be prosecuted and/or have its registration revoked if it fails to appoint a FSS or keep a copy of the FSS certificate on the premises.
  • Class 2 food businesses must register with their local council, have a food safety program and keep records about food handling practices. Most Class 2 food businesses are required to appoint a FSS, although if your Class 2 food business is predominantly voluntary and community-based and the experience runs for less than two days, then this requirement may not apply to you. See Health Vic for more information or speak with your local council.
  • Class 3 food businesses must notify their local council of their intention to operate a food business, and many local councils additionally require these businesses to complete a registration process. However this may vary between local councils, so you should check with your local council to determine whether registration or other additional requirements apply in your local area. All Class 3 food businesses must keep records about food handling practices.
  • Class 4 food businesses simply need to notify their local council of their intention to operate a food business.

Local councils are typically responsible for food business registration, monitoring compliance, providing education and advice, and taking enforcement action when needed. The Australian Institute of Food Safety provides further information explaining these notification and registration requirements. General information on these requirements is also available from Health Vic. By way of example, the City of Melbourne Council requires the operator of a food business to register by providing business plans, an application form and (in the case of Class 2 food businesses) a Food Safety Program and registration form. For more information, please refer to the City of Melbourne food business registration page and our information page on business licensing. You should check with your local council to ensure that you meet any local council regulations that may be applicable to you.

The above registration and notification requirements do not apply if you are hosting cooking classes, which are excluded from the Food Act.

On top of registering with or notifying your local council, your food business must meet the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requirements. Your main responsibilities are:

  • Food safety: Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Standards Code contain a number of detailed requirements which are broadly directed at preventing food contamination, especially if you are directly handling food. These may include requirements in relation to accepting food, storing and displaying food (especially potentially hazardous food), managing the people on your premises and maintaining your premises to the appropriate standard of cleanliness. In addition, you must implement a food safety program which identifies the potential hazards which could occur in your food handling operations, and which provides for the monitoring of those controls.
  • Food and premises hygiene: If you are directly handling food products, you will need to ensure your premises and practices comply with Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3. These may include requirements relating to the health and hygiene of food handlers, the cleanliness of the premises and equipment, sewage and wastewater disposal, the storage of garbage and recyclable matter, handwashing facilities, and the design and construction of premises to all proper cleanliness.
  • Labelling and other information: The Food Standards Code contains detailed regulations regarding the labelling of food products (refer to this fact sheet).

Please be aware of potential criminal offences and financial penalties for failure to comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Is there anything else I should think about?

If your Experience will also involve serving or providing alcohol, we encourage you to take a look at our information about Experiences involving alcohol. If you are supplying alcohol to guests you may also need to apply for a Victorian liquor licence. However, many Hosts may qualify for the "minor business exemption", which is available to businesses where the supply of alcohol is only a small part of the products and services on offer. Similarly, if your Experience will combine food with another activity (for example, a guided tour), please take a look at our other information sections to work out if any other rules might apply to your activity.

*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).

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