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Food Info - Operate

Temporary food stalls


Temporary food stall set up

The temporary nature of outdoor events and markets means that all of the structural requirements of the food laws cannot be applied. However, certain minimum requirements are necessary to ensure a high standard of food handling and safe food. If food sold at a market stall is not prepared at the stall, you must ensure the premises where it was prepared meets the minimum requirements of the Food Act 2006 and has a licence if needed. This includes food that is prepared at home. All market stalls must be operated in a safe and hygienic manner.

For further information on minimum standards refer to the Artists impression – minimum standards for the operation of a temporary food stall. You can print off and use labels to mark your waste water, hand washing and utensil containers. The market stall equipment checklist can help you check if you have the right equipment for your market stall.


Taste testing

Taste testing or sampling of foods can be a great way for your potential customers to ‘try before they buy’. However, if not done properly and hygienically, samples can be a source of food contamination and could spread diseases. Food that is not protected from contamination can make your customers sick.

There are many potential risks associated with taste testing:

  • people - if people contaminate your food samples by breathing, coughing or touching, diseases can be spread. Someone sneezing nearby could easily contaminate samples that are unprotected
  • bacteria - some bacteria and viruses can survive for hours on the surface of food. Bacteria contamination can occur if samples are not kept at correct temperatures or not separated from other foods that may cause contamination
  • the surrounding environment - animals, dust, foreign objects and chemicals can also cause contamination.

While taste testing can be an effective way to sell your product, it is in your best interest, and in the interest of your customers' health, to keep your food samples free from all types of contamination.


Preparing or manufacturing the food

If you provide taste testing for your customers, you need to ensure that the food has been properly prepared. You need to ensure that the food has been prepared at a premises that complies with the Food Act 2006 and the Food Safety Standards, and is licensed under the Act, if required. If you are cooking, preparing or displaying food samples on site, for example at a market, you may need to hold a licence to operate a temporary food stall. Even if you are offering samples for taste testing of certain pre-packaged foods you may still require a licence to operate a temporary food stall.  All temporary food stalls (regardless of if a licence is needed or not) will need to meet the minimum requirements of the Act and the Food Safety Standards.


Transporting the food

All food must be protected from contamination during transport. It should be kept totally sealed and transported in a clean vehicle.

  • If the food is potentially hazardous (that is, required to be kept hot or cold), careful consideration must be given to how you are going to transport the food and maintain correct temperatures.
  • Cold food must be kept at 5°C or less. Use refrigerated vehicles or, for shorter time periods, an esky packed with ice.
  • Hot food must be kept at 60°C or higher. Use vehicles that are equipped to keep food hot or, for shorter time periods, insulated hot bags.
  • You must have a food thermometer with you to ensure that food is kept at the required temperatures at all times.
  • Where potentially hazardous food has not been kept under temperature control for a period exceeding 4 hours, for example during transporting or display, this food must be discarded. It must not be sold, given away or offered for sampling.


Serving the food

When serving, it is important to keep the food protected from all the different types of contamination.


Ways to protect food from contamination

  • Provide single serves of your product. Use disposable cups, spoons, toothpicks or other implements to minimise the amount of handling by the customer.
  • Provide a physical barrier, such as Perspex between the customer and the food.
  • Display small quantities, so that food samples have less time to become contaminated.
  • If required, keep the food samples hot (above 60ºC) or cold (below 5ºC). Some samples may be able to be kept without temperature control, provided that time and temperatures are carefully monitored.
  • Signage must be displayed adjacent to the taste testing stating ‘No double dipping, single serve only’. Supervise the samples to ensure that customers do not contaminate by re-dipping spoons or other items.
  • Provide litter containers so that customers can dispose of single use items, leaving the area clean and tidy.
  • Use tongs and gloves when you handle samples.


Food samples that are manufactured, prepared, transported and served correctly will have much less risk of contamination and will help you present a quality product for taste testing. For some display ideas you can download the Taste testing fact sheet .