The Australian sandwich shop industry has an annual turnover of approximately $1.7 billion. Opening a sandwich shop requires consideration of some significant legal obligations. This article details the most important of these: food safety standards, local government regulations and the likely need to pay penalty rates.

What Food Safety Standards apply for a Sandwich Shop?

In Australia, the Food Standards Code (the Code) regulates how food must be handled, stored, prepared and labelled. It also details appropriate food hygiene. While Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) developed and regularly updates the Code, state and territory agencies implement it and monitor compliance. For example, in New South Wales, the NSW Food Authority and local councils are responsible for food safety. They guide cafés, restaurants and retail food outlets on how to meet their obligations under the Code. They also undertake regular food inspections to ensure compliance with the Code.

The NSW Food Authority requires all commercial food outlets to notify their local council of their business’ food activities. A prospective proprietor satisfies this obligation when they lodge their application for development approval and any other necessary permits and register to pay council rates.

The owner must ensure that any employee who handles food, supervises the preparation and handling of food or touches food contact surfaces has the appropriate knowledge. Standard 3.2.2 of the Code lists the various skill sets required for the different roles in businesses serving food.

Any food outlet requires a Food Safety Supervisor if the food they prepare and service is:

  • Ready-to-eat;
  • Potentially hazardous (requires temperature control); and
  • Not sold and served in the supplier’s original package.

As such, all sandwich shops need a Food Safety Supervisor. Supervisors are required to prevent as much as possible consumers becoming ill as a result of poor food handling and preparation.

The design and construction of a sandwich shop must also meet the requirements of the Code. Typically, the appropriate environmental plan in the relevant local government area will incorporate the Code’s mandates. Development approval thus requires that a prospective proprietor meets all necessary specifications. The particular requirements include matters such as the location and type of hand washing facilities as well as the provision of adequate space for food storing and handling.

The NSW Health Authority also requires that retail food outlets have appropriate and robust internal processes for hygiene, health, cleanliness, and sanitation. A retail food outlet must control how staff handle food. Local councils regularly inspect food and drinks premises in their area to ensure that they are complying with the food safety standards set out in the Code. They typically check the physical state of the premises, all food handling processes as well as the food safety skills and knowledge of food safety supervisors.

Under NSW law, large fast food and snack food chains must also display nutrition information such as a kilojoule indicator at the point of sale. Depending on where you intend to locate your sandwich shop, check the relevant state or territory guidelines for meeting the Code and any other food safety obligations.

Local Government

Like any other business, opening a sandwich shop needs development approval from the appropriate local council. A potential proprietor needs to know what the particular council requires for a development application. For example, the City of Sydney requires applications for retail food and drinks premises to meet AS4674-2004. Standards Australia compiled this statement to enable businesses to satisfy their Code obligations regarding fit-out.

A sandwich shop may also need another kind of permit or approval. For example, many local governments require local businesses to receive approval before putting up signage.

Penalty Rates

The recent steady growth in the sandwich shop industry is due in part to time poor and health conscious consumers who need healthy food available quickly. As such, sandwich shops are usually open for extended hours. Many employers are obliged to pay staff penalty rates.

It is important for a prospective proprietor to be aware that paying penalty rates when they are legally required is mandatory. When they are applicable will depend on whether an employee is ongoing or casual as well as their particular employment agreement or award.


Opening a business is a significant undertaking and new business owners must meet all their legal obligations. LegalVision has helped many food businesses. Contact us today on 1300 544 755 or fill the form on this page.

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