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Macomb County

Food Service Sanitation Program / Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a license to prepare and sell food to the general public?

Yes.   With a few exceptions, the state Food Law, Act 92, prohibits a person from operating a food service establishment unless licensed and inspected by the designated regulatory authority.

But I am only selling beverages, do I still need a license?

Yes.   Food is as anything that can be consumed by humans which includes beverages and ice.

But I am giving the food/beverage away, do I still need a license?

Yes.  The requirements of the Food Law remains the same.  Food/beverage offered to the public must be stored, prepared and handled in the same safe manner whether it is sold or given away.

I want to start a home-based catering/bakery/confectionary business, what do I need to do?

Private homes can not be licensed as a food service establishment.  The FDA Food Code states:  “A private home, a room used as living or sleeping quarters, or an area directly opening into a room used as living or sleeping quarters may not be used for conducting food establishment operations.”

In addition, room finishing materials and equipment must be commercial grade and meet specific construction, durability and cleaning requirements.

Who is my licensing and regulatory agency?

Licensing and regulatory responsibilities are divided between the local health department and the Michigan Department of Agriculture based on the overall operation of the business.

Generally a grocery store, convenience store, market, bakery, butcher shop, candy store, produce store, processing plant, repackaging operation, food warehouse, farmers' market, ice cream truck and state/county fair concession fall under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Businesses that primarily prepare or serve food for immediate consumption such as a restaurant, cafeteria, sandwich shop, coffee shop, pizza delivery, bar, brewpub, caterer, rental hall, ice cream shop, hot dog stand, catering truck, special event food vendor, and a vending machine operation are regulated by the local health department.

Additional information can be found on the MDARD website at http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,1607,7-125-1569_16958_16974-53792--,00.html

What do I need to do to open a new restaurant, hot dog cart, mobile truck, concession stand, etc...?

All new food service establishments must undergo a plan review process before a license is granted.  A completed plan review application along with equipment specifications, standard operating procedures, menu, and scaled floor plans must be submitted for review and approval by the local health department.

I am buying an existing restaurant, can I use their license?

No.  Food service licenses are issued to a specific owner and to a specific address therefore are not transferable to another person or to another location. 

What do the license category types mean?

Food service establishments are categorized by the type of operation it is and are licensed accordingly.   There are five (5) types of food service operations:

  • Fixed Food   -  food service operation that operates from a building at a fixed address.
  • Commissary  - type of fixed food service operation that services mobile food units.
  • Mobile Food  -  food service operation that operates from a vehicle, boat or cart and is required to return to a licensed commissary each day for servicing.
  • Temporary Food  -  food service operation that operates at a fixed location for a temporary period of time not to exceed 14 consecutive days. (Example: festival concession)
  • Special Transitory Food  -  type of temporary food service operation that can operate anywhere in Michigan without the 14 day limit and is not required to return to a commissary.

I am planning on constructing a new establishment or remodeling an existing establishment.  Do I need to let the Health Department know?

Yes.  New and remodeled facilities are required to submit plans and specifications to the local Health Department for review and approval prior to the start of construction.   For more information click on the Plan Review link to the left.

I am buying an existing restaurant and just replacing a few pieces of equipment.  Do I still need Plan Review approval?

Yes.  Before adding, removing or replacing equipment the Health Department must be consulted to determine if proposed changes will meet Food Code requirements.

How long will it take for my plans to be reviewed?

The actual length of time varies but will not exceed 30 business days.  Plans are reviewed in the order they are received by this department.  The more completely the application is filled out and all supplemental documentation provided, the quicker the plan review specialist can grant approvals.

Can I operate my catering business out of an existing licensed facility?

Depending on the complexity of the operation, the frequency of use, and the amount of food prepared this may or may not be permitted.   Please contact the Macomb County Health Department to determine licensing requirements.

Questions?

If you have any questions, call us at 586-469-5236, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or E-mail us now