Q: Where do I submit my application and documents for a retail plan review?
A: Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert Street North
Saint Paul, MN 55155-2538
Q. How long will it take to get my plans reviewed?
A. Plans are reviewed in the order they are received. When your plan is up for review, you will be contacted by phone or email. The review of most plans is underway within about 30 days.
Q: What can I do to help speed along the plan review process?
A: When submitting your plan review application, be sure to include all necessary documents. Incomplete or missing documentation will delay the review process. Have a single point of contact for your project. If the plan reviewer has to discuss the plan with multiple people, it can also delay the review process. Being prepared to answer any questions the MDA has in a timely manner will also help the complete the review more quickly.
Q: How soon do I need to turn in my plan review application?
A: A plan review application and required documents must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the construction or remodeling of a retail food establishment, or adding or replacing equipment. We recommend that you submit your plan review application as soon as it is complete. Plans are reviewed in the order they are received. Depending on the volume of submitted plans, reviews may take longer than 30 days.
Q. Can I still submit my plans even if I haven’t yet decided on the equipment I want to use??
A. No. Equipment review is a critical component of the overall review. Plans received without equipment information are incomplete and will not be reviewed until the information is received.
Q: When is a full plan review submittal not required for retail sales?
A: Only for an on-site plan review by the food inspector. The following must all apply:
1) The primary type of business is not food (less than 50% of total sales). 2) Only prepackaged foods are sold. All food is sold in the same package it is received in and there is never any open food.
3) Food display and storage is limited to the retail sales area. Contact our plan review team at (651)-201-6194 if you have questions.
Q: Does a change in ownership require plan review submission?
A: Typically, if the change in ownership doesn’t include a change in menu, food equipment or facilities, plan review application submission isn’t required.
Q: How do I find out the status of my review?
A. Once you have received a letter by email notifying you that your application submittal is complete, your plans are assigned to a plan review officer. Plans are reviewed in the order they are received. When your plan is up for review, you will be contacted by phone or email. The review of most plans is underway within about 30 days. If it has been more than 30 days, you can call the plan review line at 651-201-6194 to check on the status.
Q: Where can I find equipment specification sheets?
A: This information can be obtained from the manufacturer’s website. You may also obtain equipment specification sheets from the equipment supplier or from an on-line search.
Q: How can I easily label my equipment on my floorplan?
A: To easily associate the equipment list with the floor plan, assign a number to each piece of equipment on the list. On the floor plan indicate where the equipment is located by using the number on the equipment list. See a sample plan review equipment list and floorplan (include link).
Q. Can I get started with construction while I’m waiting for my plans to be reviewed?
A. No. The MN Food Code requires that you submit your plans 30 days before beginning construction. If it has been more than 30 days, you may proceed, but know that you will be required to make changes if the work done is not in compliance with the Minnesota Food Code.
Starting construction prior to approval may result in costly corrections and delayed openings.
Q. Can I do the plumbing work myself?
A. No, a licensed plumber is required to do all plumbing work. The plumber must submit plumbing plans to the MN Department of Labor and Industry for review and approval, but in some cases plans can be submitted directly to the local municipality. Visit the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Plumbing plan review agreements for more information.
Q. I’m ready for my final inspection so that I can open my business. Who do I call?
A. Contact information for your local inspector is provided in your Notice of Completed Plan Review letter. Advance notice of at least 14 calendar days is required.
Q. What if I make revisions after my plans have been approved?
A: Contact the reviewer who signed your letter. If you have not received your final/licensing inspection, the revisions can simply be considered part of your original submittal and undergo a review. If you have already had your final inspection, contact the reviewer to discuss the revisions. A determination will be made at that time whether or not you will be required to resubmit plans.
Q: Where can I find information on retail food establishment facility and food equipment requirements?
A: Please see the Retail Food Establishment Construction Guide.
Q: Are there any specific considerations if I want to use my private well?
A: Contact the Minnesota Department of Health, Well Management Unit, at 651-201-4600 for well construction and water quality compliance verification. Approved well construction and water quality compliance must be verified, prior to licensing. Include a copy of the well log or unique well number with your plan review submittal.
Q: Are there any specific considerations if I want to use my private septic system?
A: A current Certificate of Compliance must be provided to verify the sewage treatment system is in compliance with Minnesota Rules. Contact the county, city, or township to find out how to obtain the Certificate of Compliance and submit it with your plan review documents.
Q: What if I am mainly a retailer, but also want to sell some products at wholesale?
A: Typically a retail plan review is required whenever a food establishment is conducting any retail operation. There are very few instances when a retail plan review may not be required. If your establishment will have both retail and manufactured foods, please call our plan review team at (651) 201-6194 to determine if a retail plan review is required.
Q: Is a taproom the same as a bar? Do they follow the same regulations?
A: Taprooms are the same as bars and both are regulated by the Minnesota Food Code.
Q: I am not serving or preparing any food, only selling prepackaged food, beer, wine, or liquor. Is a menu still required?
A: Yes, a menu must consist of any food and beverages being sold, even if the only items being sold are beverages. Menus must also provide details on how the food is being handled, prepared, or if it is received and sold prepackaged. The more food service and handling your establishment conducts, the more detailed the menu should be. See how to develop a menu (include link)