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, all food business are still required to produce safe, sanitary food products for sale.

Common licensing exclusions

Product of the farm or garden 

Products of the farm or garden are foods that you grow or raise on land that you occupy (own, rent, or lease). You do not need a food license or Cottage Food Producer Registration for these types of products. Common products of the farm or garden include:

  • Fruits, vegetables, and herbs
  • Honey and maple syrup
  • Eggs, meat, and poultry

Products of the farm or garden must be handled in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, even though a license is not required to sell them. A product of the farm or garden may also be processed (e.g., washed, cut, frozen) prior to sale. Please visit the MDA Produce Safety Program website for more information.

A product may no longer be considered a product of the farm or garden because they include added off-farm ingredients. An example would be adding off-farm ingredients (e.g., salt, spices) to tomatoes you’ve grown to produce a pasta sauce. Adding ingredients that you did not grow, produce, or raise yourself means you no longer meet the product of the farm exemption.

Educational, charitable, or religious organizations

If these organizations are not regularly engaged in selling food from their established location, they do not need a food license. 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 primarily 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 needing a food license. As an example, a book shop could sell prepackaged candy without a food 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 food license.

Licensing exemptions

Food sampling and demonstration and farmers' markets or community events 

The Food Product Sampling and Demonstration law allows sampling of small amounts of food for promotional or educational purposes at a farmers' market or community event. Additional details can also be found on the University of Minnesota Extension's Safe Food Sampling website. 

Cottage Foods Producer 

Certain types of food and pet treats can be made and sold from your home after obtaining a Cottage Food Producer registration.

There are some limitations to what foods can be made and how they can be sold under the Minnesota Cottage Food Law. Cottage foods must be non-potentially hazardous, which means they are at low risk for the growth of pathogens that make people sick. For example, meat, poultry, fish, or unbaked eggs and dairy are not allowable items. Foods that may be made under the cottage food licensing exemption include:

  • Baked foods like bread, cookies, and bars
  • Canned foods like jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables
  • Other goods like candy and dried seasoning mixes
  • Baked or dehydrated pet treats, like a dog biscuit

Cottage foods can be sold direct to the customer from your home, a farmers’ market, or a community event. They cannot be wholesaled or sold at retail stores. Only cottage pet treats can be shipped (not human cottage food).

To operate as a cottage food producer, you must register with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Please visit the MDA Cottage Food Program website for more information.

We are here to help!

If you have questions, please contact the MDA at or 651-201-6081.