This guidance document is to be used when completing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Special Event Food Stand License Application form. Please read carefully to ensure you understand all the necessary information.

A Special Event food stand is a food and beverage service establishment which is used in conjunction with celebrations and special events and which operates no more than ten (10) total days within the applicable license period. If you wish to operate more than a total of ten (10) days in a license period contact MDA to discuss different types of licensing options. Please contact the Food and Feed Safety Division’s Licensing Liaison at 651-201-6081 or MDA.FoodLicensingLiaison@state.mn.us for assistance with the appropriate license type.

If you prefer to apply for a special event license in person, please contact our main line at 651-201-6027 and ask for your area retail inspector’s contact information.


Click on the linked sections below to jump to that section.

License Period and License Requirement
Predominance of Business and Licensing Authority

Food Source
Types of Food Being Sold

Hand Washing Facilities and Hygienic Practices
Dishwashing Facilities
Waste Disposal

Potentially Hazardous Food
Cooking and Holding Temperatures
Cooking, Heating and Cooling Equipment
Washing or Cutting Produce

Employee Health and Hygiene
Location and Construction of Stand
Insect Control
Completing the Application and Receiving your License
Entering Events into the Application
Reviewing the Application Summary
Payment Summary
Submitting Payment
Receiving your License



License Period and License Requirement
The license period for a Special Event stand is from April 1st to March 31st the following year. All stands must be operated in compliance with the Minnesota Food Code (external link) and all events must be disclosed to MDA prior to participating at the event. Each special event stand is required to have its own license and cannot be photocopied or duplicated to use on multiple stands within the same event.

If found operating without a license or registering after an event has taken place and before a license was issued, a No License Penalty fee will be charged to the operator and the special event license will be withheld until payment is received.

In order to ensure receipt of license prior to a special event, license applications and fees should be submitted to the appropriate regulatory authority at least 14 days prior to operating a special event food stand.

Predominance of Business and Licensing Authority
Special event food stands are licensed by different regulatory authorities in Minnesota based on the type and predominance of business. Predominance of business means that a majority (51% or more) of the gross annual food sales comes from that type of food or activity. If you want a license for a concession stand that is predominantly:

  • Food Service Concessions (sandwiches, hot dogs, other meals); or
  • Beverage Service Concessions (soft drinks, beer, or other beverages sold by the glass); or
  • Ice cream dipping or Ice milk (does not include packaged ice cream treats/bars or Sno Cones)

Then you need a license from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and you cannot use the MDA Special Event Food Stand online license application. Go to the MDH Food Licensing web page (external link) for more information.

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The following information must be included on the license application form:

  1. The types of food and beverages to be served. Please note that the regulatory authority may restrict the type of food served or the method of food preparation based on equipment limitations.
  2. The types of equipment used in the food operation.
  3. A description of hand washing and dishwashing facilities.
  4. The water source and method of waste water disposal.
  5. Event date and time period, event name, and event location.

Food Source 
All food, beverages and ice must be obtained from an approved source, such as a grocery store or commercial food distributor. Food cannot be prepared or stored at home.

Types of Food Being Sold
The online licensing application asks what type of food will be sold. If the stand is selling only prepackaged food or whole, uncut raw agricultural products and will not be providing samples or open food products, then hand washing facilities are not required.

If produce is raw and in its natural state (uncut/unpeeled), it is considered a raw agricultural product. Trimming the dead or brown leaves or ends does not constitute cutting. If whole produce is considered ready to eat, such as a washed apple, it is no longer considered a raw agricultural product.

If the stand is selling any other type of food, including washed or cut produce, or providing food samples, then hand washing facilities are required – see section below for more information.

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Hand Washing Facilities and Hygienic Practices
A hand washing device supplied with warm running water, soap, nailbrush, and paper towels must be provided at all stands where food is prepared. Water can be supplied under pressure or by gravity.

Food employees must wash their hands and exposed portions of their arms by vigorously rubbing together the surfaces and thoroughly rinsing with clean water. This shall occur any time the hands are contaminated and immediately before handling food. Food employees shall minimize bare hand contact with  exposed ready-to-eat foods. Suitable utensils such as deli paper, tongs, spatulas, dispensing equipment, or gloves may be used as a barrier.

Dishwashing Facilities 
Only single service disposable utensils are permitted for eating and drinking purposes. Multi-use utensils may be used for the purpose of preparation, storage, service and dispensing of food. For washing multi-use utensils, a dishwashing facility must be available which consists of either: (1) an approved dishwashing machine, (2) a three compartment sink, or (3) a minimum of three containers of sufficient size to immerse utensils.

The four step manual dishwashing process includes: 
Step 1: Washing utensils in warm water in the first sink or container 
Step 2: Rinsing in clean water in the second sink or container. 
Step 3: Sanitizing with an approved sanitizer in the third sink or container. 
Step 4: Air drying all utensils and equipment. Towel drying is prohibited.

Approved sanitizers include quaternary ammonium, iodine, or chlorine. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and use test strips for measuring sanitizer concentration.

Potable water, or drinking water, must be obtained from an approved public water supply system or purchased bottled water. Water cannot come from a residential well. Water must be transported and stored in approved cleanable, food-grade covered containers. Hoses used to obtain water for food preparation or drinking purposes must be of food grade quality and provided with an approved backflow prevention device.

Waste Disposal 
All waste water must be discharged into an approved sanitary sewer or holding tank. Disposal by throwing or dumping the waste water on the ground or storm sewer is not permitted.

Trash and garbage stored for extended periods of time must be placed in tightly covered, non-absorbent containers.

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Potentially Hazardous Food
Potentially hazardous food must be handled properly to keep it safe and prevent illness. A partial list of potentially hazardous food can be found at the end of this guidance document. These foods must be cooked, held, cooled, reheated, and kept refrigerated according to the guidelines below.

Cooking and Holding Temperatures
Potentially hazardous food must be cooked to the specified temperature for at least fifteen (15) seconds using an accurate thermometer to check internal food temperatures.

  • 145°F for fish, and eggs for immediate service
  • 155°F for beef, pork, and eggs which will be hot held
  • 165°F for poultry

Domestic slow cookers or crock pots are not allowed.

Food must be reheated and held properly:

  • Commercially prepared food (such as packaged hot dogs) not served immediately must be reheated to and held at 140°F or above.
  • Food prepared off-site and reheated on site must be reheated to 165°F for at least fifteen (15) seconds and held at 140°F or above.
  • Maintain cold foods at 41°F or below; hot foods at 140°F or above.

Cooking, Heating and Cooling Equipment 
Equipment must be provided for adequately cooking and maintaining required temperatures of hot potentially hazardous foods. Domestic slow cookers and crock pots are not permitted for this purpose.

Accurate temperature measuring devices must be provided in each refrigeration unit or ice chest, and for monitoring internal food temperatures.

Mechanical refrigeration is required for events lasting longer than four (4) hours if holding potentially hazardous foods. This includes transportation time to and from the event. For time periods of less than four (4) hours, dry ice or frozen freezer packs may be used, as long as food can be maintained at 41°F or less. Drained ice may be used to cool water-impervious beverage containers.

Washing or Cutting Produce
All produce must be transported and kept in a clean, dry location and protected from environmental sources of contamination.

Produce can be washed and cut on site but this must be done in a sink designated solely for washing the produce. This sink cannot be a handwashing sink or a three (3) compartment sink used for washing dishes.

Trimming the dead or brown leaves or ends does not constitute cutting and would not require a separate sink for washing. Several types of cut produce are considered potentially hazardous food and require refrigeration for safety, for example cut melons, sliced tomatoes or chopped leafy greens. See Cooking, Heating, and Cooling Equipment section, above. 

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Employee Health and Hygiene
Food employees who have the following conditions: diarrhea or vomiting must be excluded from handling food and handling clean equipment and must be free of symptoms for at least 24 hours prior to beginning food preparation activities.

The following clothing are required to be worn at all times unless the food stand is only selling prepackaged food or raw agricultural products:

  1. A hat, hair covering, hair net, or other effective hair restraint,
  2. a beard restraint, and
  3. clothing that covers body hair.

Location and Construction of Stand
Food stands must be located away from possible contamination sources, such as toilets, trash receptacles, and animal pens. Additionally, the following protections must be adhered to:

  • A canopy or other form of overhead protection must be provided.
  • The floor, wall, and ceiling surfaces must be smooth, durable, and easily cleanable. Acceptable floor surfaces include: vinyl, sealed wood, concrete, machine-laid asphalt, and dirt or gravel (only if covered by suitable materials that are effective in controlling dust and mud).
  • Interior lights must be shielded or coated.
  • Food preparation and cooking areas must be protected by an impervious shield or separated by distance to ensure customer safety and prevent food contamination by customers.
  • A stand must provide protection during adverse weather by its construction or location. Food activities must cease in adverse weather if the interior of the stand is not adequately protected from the weather, windblown dust and debris.

In addition to the Minnesota Food Code, other applicable codes may apply. Other requirements include ensuring that gas hook-up and services comply with the State Mechanical Code (external link), electrical services comply with the State Electrical Code and Fire Marshal requirements such as such as State Fire Code-Section 906.1 (external link) about portable fire extinguishers.

Insect Control
Provide effective insect control by use of screening, covering, and good sanitation. If insecticides are used, they must be:

  • An approved type,
  • Used according to manufacturer’s directions, and
  • Not used when food or utensils are exposed.

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Entering Events into the Application
After completing the food safety portion of the application, you will be asked to enter the event or events for which you are seeking a license. At least one event needs to be entered. The following pieces of information are required for each event:

  1. Event Name
  2. Event Location Address
  3. Event City
  4. Event Date(s)

If you enter an event that happened in the past, a box will appear notifying you that a No License Penalty will be applied to your license fee. The amount of this penalty will depend on the license fee paid. See License fee schedule below for more information.

After you receive your license, if there are still days remaining on the license (have not exceeded 10 days), you can add additional events by contacting licensing at 651-201-6062 or MDA.Licensing@state.mn.us.

Reviewing the Application Summary
Once you complete the required application information in the online application, you will see a summary of the information provided. You are encouraged to print a copy of the application summary page for your records before proceeding to the payment summary page.

Payment Summary
The payment summary page lists the license fees and surcharges owed.

If you plan to pay with an e-check, be sure to write down the six digit PAYMENT ID located in the paragraph above the summary table before selecting ‘Enter Payment Information’. If you do not write this number down, you will not be able to complete payment and will have to start the process over. If you plan to pay by MasterCard, Visa, or debit card, simply select ‘Enter Payment Information’ to proceed.
Submitting Payment
MDA accepts the following payment types online: e-check, MasterCard and Visa credit or debit cards. Please note that US Bank charges a 2.5% convenience fee on all MDA online license payments.

Once payment is submitted, you are encouraged to print a copy of your receipt. Select ‘Print a Copy of Your Receipt’ link at the top of the page to print a receipt. A copy of your receipt will also be sent to the email address provided in your application.

Receiving Your License
Your application will be received by licensing staff the first business day after successful payment is received. Once received, your application will be approved and your license printed. It will then be mailed within the next business day to the address you provide at the beginning of the application. In the meantime, you will need to use the application summary and copy of your payment receipt as proof of license.

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Food processing plant: means a commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels, or stores food for human consumption and does not provide food directly to a consumer.

Food Employee: means an individual working with unpackaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food-contact surfaces.

Multi-use utensils: means a utensil designed and constructed to be used multiple times (compared to a single-service article).

Packaged: means bottled, canned, cartoned, securely bagged, or securely wrapped, whether packaged in a food establishment or a food processing plant. Packaged does not include a wrapper, carry-out box, or other nondurable container used to containerize food to protect food during service and receipt of the food by the consumer.

Potable water  or Drinking water: means water from a source that meets chapters 4720 and 4725 and Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, part 141. Drinking water includes the term water except the terms boiler water, mop water, rainwater, wastewater, nondrinking water, and other terms that connote that the water is not potable.

Potentially Hazardous Food (PHF): A food or a food ingredient consisting in whole or in part of: milk products, eggs, meat, fish, raw shell eggs, poultry or other food or food ingredient which is capable of supporting growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. PHF food requires time and temperature control to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation.

Predominance of business: means that a majority (51% or more) of the gross annual food sales comes from that type of food or activity.

Raw agricultural product: produce, such as a fruit or vegetable, that is in its raw and natural state, meaning it is uncut and unpeeled.

Single-service article: means a tableware (fork, knife, spoon), carry-out utensil, bag, container, placemat, stirrer, straw, toothpick, wrapper, or other item that is designed and constructed for one-time, one-person use.

Special Event Food Stand: is a food and beverage service establishment which is used in conjunction with celebrations and special events, and which operates for no more than ten total days within the applicable license period.

Special event licensing period: April 1 through March 31 of the following year no matter when the application is submitted.

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This list is not intended to be all inclusive but rather provide examples of common foods that require temperature control for safety.

Bacon – in raw form 
Beef – ground, roasts, steak 
Ground meats - all 
Hot Dogs 
Lunch meat 
Meat casseroles 
Pork – ground, ham, roasts 
Processed meats - all 

Chicken – ground, roasted, barbecued, fried 
Chicken – nuggets, patties, strips 
Casseroles with chicken/turkey Dressing 
Precooked, processed products 
Turkey – ground, roast 

Fish, Salmon, Tuna

Bakery Foods 
Cream pastries 
Cream/custard pies and tarts (pumpkin)
Pudding prepared from a mix or scratch

Dairy Foods 
Whipped butter/whipped margarine 
Cheese – mozzarella, cottage, Cream cheese, Ricotta 
Cream, real 
Cream sauce, white sauce 
Dairy whipped topping 
Ice cream 

Noodles – all kinds when cooked 
Rice - cooked

Shell eggs
Egg casseroles, Egg dishes 
Deviled eggs 
Fried eggs 
Hard-cooked eggs 
Scrambled eggs

Fruits and Vegetables 
Dry beans – cooked 
(Examples - navy, refried, baked beans, etc.) 
Potatoes and other vegetables – cooked
Raw Sprouts – including alfalfa and bean
**Cut/prepared fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, salad greens and melons (including watermelon, cantaloupe and honey dew)

**Cutting alters the physical properties of the foods or can introduce bacteria from the surface into the flesh portions of the foods and therefore these foods are considered potentially hazardous foods because they provide a medium that readily supports the growth of pathogens when they are held without temperature control. The term “leafy greens” includes iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (i.e., immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula and chard. Cut leafy greens include commercially processed cut leafy greens, such as bagged salad mixes and spinach, as well as leafy greens that have been cut “in-house” for sale or service to the consumer. Cut leafy greens does not include herbs such as cilantro or parsley.

Other Foods 
Garlic in oil mixtures
Salad dressings prepared from a mix

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Gross Annual Sales New License Fee No-License Penalty Total if Operating
without a License
$0-$50,000 $77.00 $51.00 $128.00
$50,001-$250,000 $155.00 $102.00 $257.00
$250,001-$1,000,000 $276.00 $182.00 $458.00
Prepackaged Non-Perishable Food Only
Less than $15,000
$50.00 $33.00 $83.00

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