Bread and cake certainly have distinguished lineages. Humans began eating bread in Neolithic times. Although cake arrived a little later in human history, Marie Antoinette’s fondness for it has cemented its place in the public imagination. However, retailers of bread and cakes also need to think about the law. So if you sell bread or cakes or are running a bakery or cake store, this article details those legal obligations you need to consider.

Trading Hours

Governments have long regulated trading hours. This regulation had a dual purpose: to reserve time for religious observance and to ensure that citizens did not have to work outside of regular trading hours. In Australia, state and territory governments regulate trading hours.

As a bread and cake retailer, you need to know if there exist restrictions on the hours that you trade. And while the answer is likely no, you still need to check with the relevant government authority in your state or territory. There has been a national movement towards deregulation of trading hours generally, including for bread and cake shops. In NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, these stores are classified as either ‘exempt’ or ‘small’ and have unrestricted trading hours. The ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania have also deregulated trading hours.

Licensing for Running a Bakery or Cake Store

State and territory governments do not regulate cake stores and bakeries. However, you will need to get a licence for your store from your relevant local government authority. Every council needs to see that you can meet their requirements before they issue you with a permit.  If you obtain a licence, you will likely have to display it on your premises.

Check the website for your local council to determine the application procedure and requirements applicable to you. Councils are more than willing to speak with prospective business owners, so do not hesitate to ring them or visit their offices if you need to talk to someone before you apply.

Food Safety Standards

As a retailer of food, you will need to be very familiar with all relevant food safety standards. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFS Code) is a national food safety standard that all Australian states and territories have formally adopted into their food legislation. The Code primarily concerns relevant standards for food safety and hygiene, the fit-out of food premises and labelling, composition and advertising food.

Food safety standards comprise part of the Code. Specifically:

  • Food Safety Practices and General Requirements (Standard 3.2.2); and
  • Food Premises and Equipment (3.2.3).

State and territory health authorities enforce the Code. As a retailer, you will need to observe the code as a risk management strategy. You must make sure you stay alert to any updates and to educate your staff appropriately.

Other state or territory concerning food may also apply to you. While it typically covers state standards for primary industry such as meat, dairy and egg production, it is commercially prudent for you to check. Speak with the relevant government authority or a lawyer.

You might need a member of staff qualified as a Food Safety Supervisor. State and territory legislation prescribes which food businesses require a supervisor. The Food Safety Supervisor scheme is intended to improve food handling skills and knowledge so as to reduce foodborne illness in the retail and hospitality sector. Check with the appropriate government department whether you need a food safety supervisor.


The Code also includes food labelling standards. It details both general labelling requirements as well as requirements that are situation specific. State legislation might also impose labelling obligations for your retail outlet. These could include the kilojoule content of food together with a reference statement.  For example, NSW imposes labelling requirements on standard food outlets that sell standard food items. Guidelines are freely available on the NSW Food Authority website.

If you have any questions, it is a good idea to speak with a qualified legal professional. Tailored legal advice early could prevent difficulties later. Contact LegalVision’s business lawyers to assist you. Questions? Call us on 1300 544 755.

Carole Hemingway
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