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Limited Food Establishments

The Department will allow some 'limited' types of food processing to occur in a 'residential style kitchen ' that may not meet the full regulatory code requirements, with the intent of the producer to offer these products for sale to the public.  These processors are regulated under The Food Safety Act (3 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 5721 - 5737).  Regulations under this Act include all federal regulations related to food, and can be found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR's).  CFR's can be accessed at  In some cases, businesses may additionally be regulated under PA Code Title 7, Chapter 46, Food Code (if products are retailed direct to consumers from the business).

The term 'limited food processor' or 'residential-style kitchen' will be used throughout this program to refer to a home-style kitchen, residential style kitchen or a personal use kitchen, regardless of the location - on or off an actual residential property.

Generally, the types of production that can occur in 'limited food establishments' (whether an actual home-use kitchen or a kitchen designed in a residential fashion) are limited to foods that are not 'time and temperature controlled for safety' (TCS) foods (i.e., potentially hazardous foods, 'PHF').  TCS foods are foods that will support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms and require temperature controls (kept hot or cold).  TCS foods can only be produced in a licensed / registered 'commercial' food establishment kitchen that meets the full regulatory code requirements, including separation from residential-use areas, and adequate plumbing fixtures.  This does not specifically prohibit processing of TCS foods from a residential property, but the foods could only be produced in a second 'commercial' processing kitchen separate from the private home kitchen or any residential personal use areas, and that meets the full regulatory standards for a food establishment.

Fees: Limited Food Processors registered with the Department will pay a $35 fee at the time of the inspections and will renew their registration annually.

How to Apply

Limited Food Processors: Anyone wishing to prepare food from home or home style kitchen must fill out a completed "Application Packet - Limited Food Establishment" found under Forms. 

Please allow 3 - 5 weeks for processing.

Because only limited types of food may be prepared from the home or home - style kitchen and in some cases laboratory testing of the product must occur, it is necessary to closely evaluate these businesses.  It may additionally be necessary for those facilities wishing to sell their products interstate to register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  More detailed information on Limited Food Establishments is layed out in the Application Packet.

The Limited Food Processor Application must be submitted to the department as soon as possible.  There is no money required for the Application/Plan Review process.

  • This 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 sent a plan review approval letter via U.S. Postal Service.  This letter will instruct the applicant to prepare the food establishment as described in the plans and to contact the appropriate regional office to schedule an on-site inspection of the establishment.
  • If the plan is disapproved the applicant will be sent a plan review disapproval letter via USPS 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 establishment and its compliance with the appropriate laws and regulations.
  • Should your establishment pass this inspection a registration fee will be collected.  Check or money orders only made payable to "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" for $35.
  • If your establishment 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.


Once registered with the department, a renewal application for your registration will sent annually via USPS approximately 45 days prior to expiration of the current registration.  If you have lost your current registration and need replacement or your renewal application was lost or not received, please contact a licensing clerk at 717-787-4315 for assistance.