A retail food establishment is an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food and beverages for human consumption. The food is sold directly to the consumer or indirectly though a delivery service.  Some examples of retail food establishments include, but are not limited to: grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, meat stores, wineries, brewery taprooms, and vending machines. Prior to engaging in these activities, a person must obtain a license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as required by Minnesota Statue 28A.  The MDA also delegates it's authority to license and inspect facilities to seven agencies within the state who enforce the same food laws and regulations as the MDA.


You will need to work closely with your inspector and have the facility inspected and licensed prior to obtaining or selling food.  The inspector will verify that the establishment meets zoning requirements, has an approved water source, and the facility is constructed in accordance with the Minnesota Food Code.  Your inspector will also verify that food is obtained from approved sources, prepared, stored, and sold in a safe manner, and is properly labeled.  The Retail Food Handler's license period is from July 1st to June 30th the following year. 

The MDA's Retail Food Program conducts inspections in these categories:

If you operate solely within one of the following jurisdictions, please contact the delegated agency assigned to that area (see below).