Licensing and Regulations

Licensing and regulatory compliance requirements vary depending on what type of product is being produced and how it is being sold.  In almost all cases, it is recommended that you begin by calling your local food safety inspector to discuss your particular production process.  However, we have listed some very general guidelines below to give you an overview of the licensing process.

The Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide, produced by the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection also provides an excellent introduction to licensing and regulatory issues for food producers.

Chapter 4 Excerpt; Licensing, Labeling, Food Safety and Regulation Requirements.

Direct Sale

If you are producing your product and selling directly to the consumer through a restaurant, including cafeterias, delis,and other food service establishments, you will probably be governed by the Department of Health and Family Services. This license will also often cover you if you are selling at a farmers market.

Wholesale

For information about food processing intended for wholesale to other businesses, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) Division of Food Safety at (608) 224-4736.

Food processing business in Wisconsin must be in compliance with ATCP 70, Wis. Adm. Code. If plants that buy vegetables from Wisconsin producers, may need to obtain a permit under s. 100.03, Wis. Stats.

The following two publications give an overview of licensing and permit requirements for a wide variety of agricultural products:

Wisconsin Acidified Canned Foods Business Site

Acidified foods are low-acid foods where acid is added to ensure safety before canning. Whether you are processing salsa or relish, tomatoes or pickled beets, we have the information that you need to Get Started, prepare for Licensing, design a Product Label, and file and maintain Records and Forms. Follow these 12 steps to success.

Visit WI Acidified Canned Foods Site

Starting a Small Food Business in Wisconsin Guide

This fact sheet is designed to summarize food safety steps that are important in starting a small
food business in Wisconsin. It also provides you with links to sources of information that will
help you get your business off to a good start.

Download Starting a Small Food Business in Wisconsin Guide here

Remember to consider other permits and requirements…

Counties, municipalities, individual farmers markets, and buyers may all impose additional requirements.  Be sure to check with your local government agencies and your buyers to ensure that you are in compliance.

If you are building a new facility, you may also have to comply with codes enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce/ agent municipalities for building, plumbing, ventilation, fire safety, ADA and electrical code compliance.

In addition to food safety licensing:

  • You will need a sellers permit to sell wholesale.
  • You do not need an EIN if your business is structured as a sole proprietorship. If your business is structured as an LLC or S-Corp, you will need an EIN to open a bank account.
  • You will need a State Tax ID number if you have employees and need to file income tax withholding.

Guidelines for Selling Home-Prepared Food at Community Events

Selling jam or jelly made from Grandma’s favorite recipe can boost sales at a church bazaar. And packages of home-made sweet rolls can find eager buyers at a society fund-raising event. But before you decide to sell home-prepared foods to the general public, remember that there are several rules you must follow.

In general, producers who sell processed foods such as cheese or other dairy products, fresh eggs, bakery foods, or meat products must be licensed as retail food establishments (see licensing information above).

Download Guidelines for Selling Home-Prepared Food at Community Events here

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