Do you Need a License to Sell Prepackaged Food Items?

Posted by Damian Roberti on

License requirements for prepackaged food differ depending on the area and the type of food being sold, but there are many factors that are the same across the board, particularly in terms of cleanliness and food safety. The likelihood that you will need to seek a license and adhere with rules if your intention is to sell packed meals is relatively high. Everything from an assessment of your home kitchen to the furnishing and licensing of a professional size institution is covered in great detail here.

Prepackaged food licenses are one of the mostessential things to leagllay selling prepackaged food. 

Prepackaged Foods Come in a Variety of Forms

Prepackaged foods such as baked goods, candies, and high acid canning are generally considered to be low-risk, and many jurisdictions allow you to prepare these in your own home kitchen if you have a license. Pickles, salsas, and jams are examples of foods that have a minimal risk of causing food borne disease and are thus recommended. Any prepackaged food product containing potentially hazardous components such as meat, cheese, grains, beans, and even cooked vegetables, as well as any food that must be refrigerated, often necessitates the use of a commercial kitchen that is licensed separately.



Types of Licensed Kitchens There are several different types of licensed kitchens.

Despite the fact that many states let you to prepare low-risk foods in your home kitchen, you must still adhere to a set of rules in order to ensure that your kitchen is in compliance with cottage kitchen regulations. For example, before agreeing to license your kitchen, the Washington State Department of Agriculture looks at your floor plan, recipes, processing, packaging, labeling, equipment, cleaning and sanitation, system for dating products, and child and pet management before granting you permission to operate. Although the list appears to be overwhelming, many of the items on it, such as packing and labeling, are factors you'll need to address anyhow in order to get your company up and running.



A number of the same rules that apply to cottage kitchens apply to commercial kitchens that are licensed, particularly in the areas of food safety and hygiene. If your house is properly zoned, you may even be able to construct a commercial kitchen there; however, it cannot be the same size as your personal kitchen. When it comes to cleanliness and food safety infrastructure, commercial kitchens are subject to higher standards than residential kitchens.



If you want to wash your hands, clean fruit, and clean your mop at the same time, you'll need different sinks. You'll also need refrigeration that's powerful enough to chill potentially dangerous goods rapidly enough to prevent them from being contaminated. In the same way that the cottage kitchen procedure requires information on your menu, processes, and labeling, the health inspector who will be licensing your kitchen will demand information about your kitchen.



Different sales venues and licenses are required.

Beyond varying based on the size of your company and the materials you use, the licensing procedure for prepackaged foods differs depending on where and how your products are sold. If you sell your prepared food cooked in a commercial kitchen directly to your clients, such as at a farmers' market, in your own storefront, or by home delivery, your city or county health authority will serve as your licensing agency.



If you sell wholesale to retailers, your state department of agriculture will license your kitchen unless your products contain more than a small quantity of meat or if you are selling in multiple states at the same time. In some instances, you'll engage with the federal Department of Agriculture to obtain the necessary permits. A license for cottage kitchen operations is required by state agricultural departments, with many states permitting you to sell cottage kitchen items at both the wholesale and retail levels in addition to the wholesale level.

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