The Food and Feed Safety Division issues food licenses and conducts food safety inspections for a variety of businesses in Minnesota. Some food businesses are not required to be licensed because of legal exclusions and exemptions. However, whether or not a food business has a food license they are still required to produce safe, sanitary food products for commercial sale.

Common licensing exclusions:

  • Product of the farm or garden - Foods grown on your land (or land that you are renting) that contain no added ingredients from off that land can be sold without a license.
  • Educational, charitable, or religious organizations -f these organizations are not regularly engaged in selling food at their institutions, they do not need food licenses. As an example, a charitable organization that bakes 1,000 loaves of bread a week and sells them from their main office would be regularly engaged in a food business and would need a license.
  • Department of Health licensed facilities - The Minnesota Department of Health and delegated public health agencies license food service operations in Minnesota. No additional license from the MDA is needed. Please contact the Department of Health for licensing information at 651-201-4500. 
  • Ice, soft drinks, and snacks - Someone who sells non-food products such as clothing, books, art objects, souvenirs, etc., can also sell ice produced and packaged by another business, bottled and canned soft drinks, and prepackaged candy and nuts to retail customers without a license. As an example, a book shop could sell prepackaged candy without a license.
  • Licensed pharmacies - A licensed pharmacy can sell food additives, food supplements, prepackaged and canned infant formulae, ice produced and packaged by another business, bottled and canned soft drinks, and prepackaged candy and nuts to retail customers without a license.

Licensing exemptions:

  • Food sampling and demonstration and farmers' markets or community events - No license is needed to sample small amounts of food for promotional or educational purposes at a farmers' market or community event.
  • Cottage foods producer - A registered cottage food vendor can sell non-potentially hazardous food items at farmers' markets, community events, online, and directly from their home. Sales are limited to $18,000 per year or less, training is required, and all sales must be directly to the end consumer.