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Commercial Kitchen / Food Licenses

Business Attorneys Advising Traverse City and Grand Rapids Restaurants

If you are planning to cook food for sale, you need to meet numerous local, state, and federal requirements for the safe handling of food, labeling, serving, and licensing. Food safety should be considered when making decisions about what to make or serve. A commercial kitchen incorporates cooking stations and equipment, and surfaces must be clean and safe. The licensing process may be more complicated than you expected, making it useful to consult a business attorney who can explain your options. At the Neumann Law Group, our Grand Rapids and Traverse City food license lawyers can help you understand the relevant requirements and other matters associated with commercial kitchens.

Commercial Kitchen and Food Licenses

When starting a commercial kitchen, both state and federal licensing may be needed, depending on the food that is involved. When products are sold directly to consumers, a retail food establishment license is also necessary. However, if items are sold through wholesale distribution, a food-processing license is required. In cases involving large-scale production, you need to use an approved commercial grade facility to process foods rather than your home kitchen.

When a business involving large-scale production is started at home, a separate kitchen dedicated to the business is required, and it needs to meet the requirements for licensed kitchens, including specific walls and ceilings, washable floors, ventilation, and lighting, as well as easily cleaned and working equipment. For example, a three-compartment sink or an NSF-approved dishwasher and a separate hand sink must be installed.

In Michigan, a food establishment license is required in almost all cases in which food is handled to be sold or served to the public, even if the giving of food is free. Under the Michigan Food Law of 2000, anyone who preserves, freezes, prepares, services, processes, sells, or provides food for sale must be licensed. Food service establishments include restaurants, cafeterias, delicatessens, food trucks, and others. With some exceptions, they are licensed through local or county health departments. Each sets its own fees. You may license a food service establishment on a yearly basis, and you will need to renew it each spring. Our food license attorneys can help Traverse City and Grand Rapids businesses understand how to comply with licensing requirements.

In Michigan, the type of commercial kitchen that you have makes a difference to the food licenses that you need. A fixed food service establishment, for example, is a facility with a permanent location where food or drink is made so that it may be directly consumed through services on the premises or somewhere else, or other establishments where food is served to the public. Temporary food service establishments are those establishments that operate at a fixed location for a temporary period that is two weeks or less. Mobile food service establishments are those that are operated from a vehicle that is not fully equipped for full food service and need to be returned to a licenses commissary once every 24 hours for servicing and maintenance. Vending machines also need to be licensed, as do special transitory food units.

Enacted in 2010, the Michigan Cottage Food Law exempts specific operations that sell less than $20,000 worth of homemade food from the inspecting and licensing regulations of the Michigan Food Law. While you will still need to comply with many other rules and regulations, it may be a way for food entrepreneurs to test whether a food business will work before committing to the greater facility, service, and inspection requirements of the Michigan Food Law.

Consult a Food License Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City

If you are trying to open a food business in Michigan, it is important to consult an experienced lawyer about commercial kitchen and food license requirements. Our principal, Kelly Neumann, is an award-winning attorney. Our Traverse City and Grand Rapids food license attorneys also represent clients in Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Muskegon, Saginaw, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact the Neumann Law Group at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up an appointment. We also can assist clients who need a liquor license lawyer or assistance with other matters related to the food industry.

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