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RETAIL FOODS FACILITIES AND RESTAURANTS

The retail food program covers all proprietors who serve or sell food/drink directly to the public. Retailers may include facilities such as, restaurants, caterers, mobile units, grocery stores, internet sales of foods, fair concessionaires, and retail bakeries, any facility selling or serving directly to the consumer.
 

Not all Retail Food Facilities in Pennsylvania are under the jurisdiction of the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA).  Six counties - Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia - have county health departments, and conduct retail inspections and licensing in their jurisdictions.  Some local municipalities, boroughs, townships, cities, etc., also do their own inspection and licensing of eating and drinking facilities.  If your facility is, or will be, located in a Local Health jurisdiction you should contact your local health department for assistance with licensing.

Local Health Departments.pdfLocal Health Departments.pdf

Retail food facilities are governed by Title 3 of the Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 57 - Food Protection (3 C.S.A. §§5701 - 5714).  All Retail Food Facilities are regulated by The Food Code, Title 7, Chapter 46.  The Pennsylvania Food Code is the standard used for all Retail Food Facilities in the state regardless of location.

All retailers are required to obtain a Retail Food Facility License PRIOR to operating a Retail Food Facility.  This includes new facilities and change of ownerships.  Licenses are non transferable to another proprietor or a new facility or location.

Mobile Units: You will need to know where the local health departments are in Pennsylvania. There is currently no reciprocity between local health departments for licensing. You will need to contact each local health department separately if you wish to sell/service food in their jurisdiction. There is additionally no receporcity between local health departments and PDA.  Most local health departments will not accept the PDA Retail Food License. In some situation, the Department will honor a local health retail food license. This should be discussed with your PDA Regional Office.

Certified Food Manager.  In many cases a Retail Food Facility will need to have a Certified Food Manager.  Please visit http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Protect/FoodSafety/Retail%20Food/Pages/Food-Employee-Certification-.aspx#.VsyBd_k4Hq4  for more information on the Food Employee Certification program.

How To Apply

The application process for facilities under PDA jurisdiction - All proprietors of potential Retail Food Facilities or change of ownerships of existing food facilities must first apply to the Department for a license prior to preparation or sale of food.  This should be done as early in the process of starting your business as possible.  Allow for 4 – 6 weeks processing time.

  • An application must first be submitted to the Department.  There is no money required for the Application process.  See below under forms the Application Packet for Retail Food Facilities and Restaurants or if your operation is mobilized, Application Packet- Mobile Food Facilities.
  • The application will be reviewed by an assigned Food Sanitarian for accuracy and compliance with the appropriate laws and regulations.
  • If the plan is approved, the applicant will be contacted and instructed to prepare the food facility as described in the plans and to contact the appropriate Food Safety Regional Office to schedule an on-site inspection of the facility.
  • If the plan is not approved, the applicant will be sent a plan review disapproval letter in the mail that describes why the plans were disapproved.  Applicants are encouraged to re-submit the plans again with the corrected or requested information.If the plan is not approved, the applicant will be sent a plan review disapproval letter in the mail that describes why the plans were disapproved.  Applicants are encouraged to re-submit the plans again with the corrected or requested information.
  • At your on-site inspection, your Food Sanitarian will conduct a thorough inspection of your facility and its compliance with the appropriate Laws and Regulations.
  • Should your facility pass this inspection a license fee will be collected.  Check or money orders should be made payable to "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania".
  • If your facility does not pass the inspection, you will be provided with an inspection report stating your deficiencies.  When deficiencies are corrected, you can contact your food sanitarian to request another inspection.
  • Proprietors looking to obtain a Temporary Retail License, for 14 days or less, should visit the "Fairs and Other Temporary Events" Program.

Change of Ownership - Licenses are NOT transferable from owner to owner.  New owners (sole proprietor, corporations, partnerships, etc...) MUST re-apply.  Use form: Application Packet for Retail Food Facilities and Restaurants. Follow the instructions for Change of Ownership.

Remodeling or Significant Menu Change - All currently licensed facilities shall submit a plan review application; see Forms on this page, to the Department prior to any remodeling or significant changes.  There is no fee charged for the plan review application process.  Use form: Application Packet for Retail Food Facilities and Restaurants.

Renewal of Licenses - Renewal of licenses occurs annually.  Renewals are sent to the proprietors approximately 45 days prior to the current expiration date.  If you do not receive a renewal application please contact the department licensing clerks at 717-787-4315 or fill out the appropriate "License Renewal- Retail Food Facilities' located in the Forms section.

Lost License - Should you need a duplicate license please contact the department licensing clerks at 717-787-4315 to make the request.  There is a $14.00 duplicate license fee.

Fee Schedule

Retail Food License

  • "Change of ownership" (licenses are NOT transferable) -- $82.00
  • Remodel Plan Review -- no charge
  • New Licenses
    • Under 50 seats AND Owner Operated -- $103.00
    • All others -- $241

Other fees

  • Annual Renewals -- $82.00
  • 2nd Follow-up inspection Fee -- $150.00
  • 3rd Follow-up inspection Fee -- $300.00
  • Duplicate License Fees -- $14.00
  • Courtesy inspection fee -- $150.00