Skip links and keyboard navigation

Food safety programs for caterers

Licensable food businesses in Queensland must have a food safety program accredited by their local government if:

  • the food business involves off-site catering.
  • the primary activity of the food business is on-site catering at the premises stated in the licence.
  • the primary activity of the food business is on-site catering at part of the premises stated in the licence.

Off-site catering

Off-site catering means your business serves potentially hazardous food at a place other than the principal place of business for the food business. It does not include:

  • delivering food under an arrangement with or on the order of a consumer, such as delivering pizzas from a takeaway pizza shop
  • the sale of food from mobile premises or temporary premises, such as the sale of ice-creams from a mobile ice-cream van.

Examples of when an off-site catering food safety program is required

  • A spit-roast catering company partially prepares food at one place (their principal place of business), then finishes preparations and serves potentially hazardous food at another place (such as in a local park, on a beach or in a hired hall).
  • A charter boat company prepares food, including potentially hazardous foods such as chicken, cold meat and salads, in a licensed fixed premises (their principal place of business). The charter boat company transports and then serves the food as a buffet for lunch (either on the boat or on land at a designated or random stop).

On-site catering

On-site catering means preparing and serving potentially hazardous food to all consumers of the food - at the premises from which the business is carried out, under an agreement where the food is:

  • of a predetermined type (this may be product specific or include a particular type of food)
  • for a predetermined number of persons (this includes a group of people attending a particular event)
  • served at a predetermined time (this may include a specific day or days and normally specify a time)
  • for a predetermined cost (the cost is agreed prior to the preparation and service of the food).

On-site catering does not include:

  • preparing and serving food at a restaurant, café or similar food business that involves the preparation and service of food on the order of a person for immediate consumption by the person
  • preparing and displaying food for self service by consumers, such as a buffet at a restaurant.

Using only part of the premises for catering

Sometimes only part of the premises stated in the licence is used primarily for on-site catering. In these cases you need a food safety program if you use a part of the food business to cater to 200 or more people, on 12 or more occasions, in any 12 month period.

This does not apply for businesses that:

  • have an extra room they use for overflow seating when the main dining area is full
  • have a room they use to host conferences, where they do not serve food as part of the conference.

Examples of when an on-site catering food safety program is required

Where on-site catering is the primary activity at the premises stated in the licence.

  • A function hall prepares and serves potentially hazardous food for functions including conferences, weddings, birthday parties and reunions where food is ordered for an agreed cost prior to the function for a specific number of people to be served at a set time.

Where only part of the premises is used primarily for on-site catering.

  • A restaurant in a hotel has an additional dining room with extra seating. The room is used primarily for catered functions separate to the remainder of the business. Catering is provided on average to 250-300 people each fortnight.

More information

Read more examples of when food safety programs are appropriate for catering businesses.

Last updated: 27 October 2015