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List of Food License Exemptions - Does your business qualify?

The Food Law of 2000 establishes license exemptions that could affect your business. The law exempts retail businesses that sell only incidental amounts of food already packaged and "not potentially hazardous." "Not potentially hazardous" foods include canned goods, dry goods, candy, and other low risk packaged food items. However, if you sell milk, sandwiches, meat, eggs, frozen dinners or other similar perishable food, you still are required to obtain a license.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) has the authority to determine if a business requires a license, so it's best to check if you think you are exempt. Examples of exempt firms may include a video store, hardware store, gift shop, sporting goods store, home improvement center, toy store, clothing store, or card shop selling only packaged food that doesn't require refrigeration.

Licensing Exemptions

The following firms do not require a food establishment license but are still subject to inspection by MDARD or local agencies. It's a good idea to call MDARD at 1-800-292-3939 to verify if you think you are exempt from a food establishment license.

  • Produce stands selling only whole, uncut, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Bake sales or potlucks run by a charitable, religious, fraternal or other non-profit organization and serving only home-prepared foods.
  • Non-profit cooperatives.
  • Retail outlets for the sale of prepackaged honey or maple syrup produced in Michigan if the outlet is
    operated by the producer and the processing facility is licensed under this act. Both retail outlets and
    processing facilities are exempt from licensure under this act for producers with gross sales of $15,000.00 or less of honey or maple syrup. In such case, the honey and maple syrup shall have labeling substantially similar to that for cottage food products as described in section 4102(3) of the Michigan Food Law.
  • Vending machines dispensing only packaged soft drinks or candy.
  • Fishing guide service serving lunch to 12 clients or less.
  • Temporary establishments with no food preparation using single-service articles and serving only non-potentially hazardous food or beverage. Examples include beer tents, soft drink stands, or snack bars at school sporting events.
  • A temporary, satellite, serving location of a licensed food service establishment where no food is prepared, and food is served by the employees.
  • Retail businesses selling only pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous foods in incidental amounts.
  • Some firms licensed under other, specific dairy or agricultural acts.
  • Certain bed and breakfast operations.
  • Cottage food producers.