The retail food program covers all proprietors who serve food and/or drinks directly to the consumer with or without charge
- Retail Food Facilities: Restaurants, caterers, bar/clubs, beer distributors, grocery stores, convenience stores, corner markets, delis, butcher shops, retail bakeries, schools, food auctions and similar.
- Farmers Markets: Farmers market stand/vendor with food or drink including indoor or outdoor farmers’ markets or stands.
- Mobile Food Facilities, Fairs and Temporary Events: Food trucks, stick stands, BBQs, and fairs/events lasting up to 14 days or less.
- Food Employee Certification: Requirements for retail food facilities and approved courses.
- Specialized Processes & HACCP: Guidance documents for specialized processes and HACCP plans for retail food facilities.
On December 28, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the release of the 2022 edition of the FDA Food Code. Under 7 Pa. Code, Chapter 46, the Commonwealth adapts the current, and subsequent versions of the FDA Model Food Code as its regulations. A summary of the changes and the timeline for enforcement is outlined in the FDA Food Code 2022 Notice.
Local Health Departments
Not all Retail Food Facilities in Pennsylvania are under the jurisdiction of the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA).
Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia have county health departments that conduct retail inspections and licensing in their jurisdictions. Some local municipalities, boroughs, townships, cities, etc., also do their own inspection and licensing of retail food facilities.
Check Local Health Departments to see if your facility is, or will be, located in a Local Health jurisdiction.
If you plan to operate in a local health department jurisdiction, you must contact EACH department separately for assistance with licensing in these jurisdictions. There is no reciprocity between local health departments and PDA.
Exceptions to Retail Food Licensing
(PDA Exemption Order 05/07/2016)
A facility is exempt from having to obtain a Retail Food Facility License if:
- The facility is located within PDA jurisdiction as the licensor. The exemption does not necessarily apply to facilities operating in Local Health jurisdictions.
- The retail food facility is one of the following:
- Operates on no more than three (3) days per calendar year.
- Food bank owned by a charitable nonprofit entity and operated for charitable or religious purposes.
- Soup kitchen owned by a charitable nonprofit entity and operated for charitable or religious purposes.
- Charitable nonprofit entity established to promote and encourage participation or support for extra- curricular recreational activities for youth.
- Offers only prepackaged, shelf stable (non-TCS) foods or beverages (ex: canned soda, packaged chips, candy).
- Food or beverages sold only through a vending machine.
- Sells only raw agricultural commodities (unprocessed, not ready-to-eat).
A retail food facility that is exempt from the license requirements under the Act is exempt from the licensure requirement only, and remains subject to inspection and all other provisions of the Act.