Food safety for tour operators

If you are a tour operator in the Northern Territory you must follow the same food standards as any other food business.

You must also follow additional food safety standards that are specific to your industry.

Planning for tour safety

You should plan ahead to make sure that food served on a tour is safe.

Some of the issues to consider include:

  • the kind of meals that will be served
  • any clients with special dietary needs
  • the design and construction of the tour vehicle
  • the equipment and facilities available on tour
  • the destinations the tour will be visiting.

Food preparation, cooking and pre-tour storage must take place in a registered kitchen.

Menu selection

Your menu should cater to a variety of dietary needs.

Vulnerable groups

Menus for should minimise food safety hazards for the following vulnerable groups:

  • children
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • people whose health is compromised.

Potentially hazardous foods

You should make sure that potentially hazardous foods are prepared and stored correctly.

Potentially hazardous foods include:

  • foods containing raw and cooked meats including casseroles, pies and sandwiches
  • dairy products and processed foods containing eggs, beans and nuts
  • seafood
  • processed fruits and salads such as prepared salads and ready to eat fruit packs
  • cooked rice and pasta.

To reduce food safety risks, you should consider:

  • replacing higher risk foods with lower risk foods, such as using dehydrated meat instead of raw meat on long tours
  • buying perishable foods in quantities that will reduce the likelihood of leftovers
  • buying perishable foods during the tour instead of at the start
  • using foods that can be cooked then eaten straight away
  • using foods that need minimal handling.

Special diets

You should ask clients at the time of booking if they have:

  • a specific allergy to any food
  • food sensitivities or intolerances
  • dietary requirements related to religious beliefs
  • special dietary requirements.

This information should be provided to all tour staff.

Design and construction of vehicle

Your tour vehicle must be able to:

  • refrigerate potentially hazardous food at or below 5 degrees Celsius
  • keep frozen food solidly during transportation
  • protect food from chemical contamination.

Equipment selection

Your tour vehicle may need the following equipment:

  • an accurate food thermometer
  • tongs and other utensils for handling food
  • sufficient hot display equipment
  • plastic disposable or reusable utensils
  • suitable containers for storage of food and utensils
  • facilities to wash and sanitise crockery, cutlery, utensils and equipment
  • gas bottles that have been checked before the tour.

Tour and destination facilities

You must provide access to the following facilities while on tour:

  • access to clean water to use for food preparation and cooking, hand washing, and cleaning and sanitising
  • a clean area to prepare, handle and serve food
  • hand washing facilities
  • utensil washing and sanitising facilities
  • suitable containers for storing and dispensing water
  • waste disposal facilities
  • toilet facilities.

Water supply

You must ensure there is enough suitable water for:

  • drinking
  • washing hands
  • washing equipment and utensils.

Water may be brought along on the tour or provided at designated campsites.

Hand washing facilities

You must provide hand washing facilities.

If facilities for hand washing are not available, alternative methods of handwashing may be provided, for example:

  • a plastic container filled with potable water and fitted with a tap
  • a catchment bucket to collect waste water
  • soap and disposable paper towels.

If these are not possible, you can apply for an exemption to use sanitising gels.

Toilet facilities

Toilets should be away from food preparation areas. They should be clean and properly constructed.

Food preparation on tour

Preventing contamination of ready to eat food

You should minimise the risk of cross contamination by:

  • preparing food on clean and sanitised surfaces
  • preparing ready to eat and raw foods on separate surfaces, or washing surfaces between uses
  • keeping chopping boards and other equipment in good condition
  • carving cooked meat with clean utensils on a clean preparation area
  • not using your bare hands for food handling
  • covering food with clean, appropriate food covers
  • ensuring each dish has its own serving utensil
  • throwing away disposable items after use
  • excluding clients or staff who become ill on tour from food handling.

Controlling the temperature of food


You should follow the guidelines for safe reheating of food and food safety and temperatures.

Packaging Food

Minimise potential hazards when packing or re-packing food on the tour by:

  • only use suitable food grade materials to package food
  • keeping packaging free from contamination during transport
  • keeping packing materials in a clean and sanitary condition
  • not re-using packaging materials
  • labelling all food according to food labelling guidelines.

Food disposal

You should dispose of food that becomes contaminated or unsafe, by:

  • clearly identifying it and keeping it in a sealed container away from safe food
  • placing it in a dedicated food disposal bin.

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 21 September 2015

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