Cases Reviewed

  1. Cases Reviewed

The Food Innovation Team (FIT) reviewed 12 cases brought forth by Food Business Owners (FBOs). Members of the FIT assisted these FBOs with navigating Minnesota’s food licensing and regulatory environment, answered their questions, and created a path forward for their licensing needs.  After each case was reviewed a Recommendation Report was created to clearly identify options the FBO may take. 

Recommendation Reports

Table of Cases Reviewed

Case Description
Date of Review
Facility Name

Building on farm property houses a farm store, restaurant, and commercial kitchen. Food is made in the kitchen for both restaurant and farm store sales. Owner also does Cottage Food. 


-Sale of Cottage Food when owner has a retail store

-Recipe and Process Authority approval for canned product served in a restaurant

– Better Process Control School requirement for canned product served at retail

– Location of sale of Cottage Food 

Cottage foods, cottage food producer, cottage food sales, home, farm, farm store, retail store front, license, retail food handler, process authority

Hotel manager is also a cottage food producer working from hotel suite as “home”. 


-Cottage Food sales when owner operates a hotel and lives onsite

-Point of sale definition for providing notice that Cottage Food is homemade

-Boundary between private residence and licensed

Cottage foods, cottage food producer, cottage food sales, hotel, lodging, home, address 

Organic, grass-fed beef processed at an equal-to inspected plant; owner expects to receive organs back with cut and processed meat. 


-Value of organ meats from organic and grass-fed beef is higher than typical value in meat industry

-Process of organ inspection, pass or condemn decision of inspector

-Ability of farmers to attend slaughter of their animals

-Farmer and processing plant communication

Equal-to, organ meats, slaughter, condemnation, organic, grass-fed, product disposition 

Sale of meat products from a retail food vehicle at multiple farmers’ markets and other venues. 


-Consistency of licensing for farmers selling at farmers’ markets or other venues

-Retail Food Vehicle/Portable Structure Cart license definition and parameters; locations and times of sale

-Cross-boarder sales by vendors from other states

Retail food vehicle portable structure or cart, license, sale location, cross-border sale, farmers market 

Exploring requirements for on-farm store for direct sales of farmers’ own products and others farmers’ products to consumers. 


-Approved water supply requirement for brick and mortar retail farm store

-MDH has jurisdiction over wells. Well inspection procedure and timeline for an MDA license

-Option for Retail Food Vehicle/Portable Structure Cart license

Farm, farm store, retail store front, well, well inspection, retail food vehicle, license 

Jam, jelly, and acidified food producer looking to do both Cottage Food and licensed product sales.


-Transfer of licenses to a new owner; Retail Food Handler and Retail Mobile licenses were held under the owner’s late mother’s name

-Online sales with shipping of products requires a license

-Sales of products under consignment at a boutique requires a license

-Clear separation required between cottage food

Cottage food producer, cottage foods, cottage food sale, retail mobile, retail food handler, wholesale manufacturer, pop-up, boutique, online store, farmers market, community event, license, acidified food

Farmer with Retail Mobile Food Handler license for sale of seasoned pork products at farmers’ markets, also using brick-and-mortar storage room on farm


-Retail Food Vehicle/Portable Structure or Cart license only covers the mobile unit

-Separate license required for permanent storage facility for storing non-product of the farm

-MDH, MPCA, and DOLI involvement in water, septic, and bathroom requirements for licensed storage facility

Products of the farm or garden, farm store, storage, outbuilding, storage building, mobile trailer, off-farm ingredients, license

Wholesale Food Processor/Manufacture making single-serving meals for local grocery store.


-Wholesale food making 2% meat comes under USDA jurisdiction and requires continuous inspection

-Process of inspection of food processors and stores removal of product 

Wholesale food processor, commercial-grade kitchen, community kitchen, products containing meat, outreach, education, continuous inspection

Farmers’ market operating temporary structures and licensed wholesale food handlers pivoted to primary retail sales during the COVID-19 pandemic


-Retail Food Vehicle/Portable Structure or Cart licensing still allows wholesale sales at less than 50% of total annual sales

-Farmers’ markets licensed as food handlers can aggregate and sell vendors’ products regardless of whether vendors are physically present at the market

Farmers’ market, hub, aggregation, food handler, meat, egg, dairy, vendor

Farm producing meat from heritage livestock breeds wants to hold on-farm dinners featuring chefs using outdoor/heritage (e.g., open fire) cooking methods


-Some restaurants have outdoor dining areas where food is served. Outdoor cooking requires shield of the food

-Documents re: requirements for licensed restaurants doing outdoor cooking could be adapted for the on-farm setting

-Complexity around who holds the license: farmers or chef. Chef’s license covers food prepared off-site and brought to the farm ready to serve. Food preparation on-farm requires licensing for the farm location, held by either chef or farmer. Special event or seasonal licenses may work for occasional events on the farm

Special event, seasonal temporary, seasonal permanent, outdoor cooking, heritage, dinner on the farm, out-door food service

Produce farm with large Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) clientele wants to process bumper crop watermelon into frozen juice to put in CSA boxes


-Product of the farm juice to be sold to retail CSA does not require juice HACCP, Retail Plan Review, or Retail HACCP Plan

-Licensing Wizard and Licensing Liaison at MDA should be first stop for food entrepreneurs 

Juice, Community Supported Agriculture, product of the farm, retail, wholesale, juice HACCP, Licensing Liaison, Food Licensing Wizard

Producer of aronia berries (also known as chokecherries) wants to extract juice, sell juice direct to end consumers, and also sell juice to wholesale buyers


-No licensing or juice HACCP requirements for product of the farm juice with no added ingredients sold directly to end consumers

-Juice could be extracted and containerized for sale to consumers under the Cottage Food Law if pH was 4.6 or below. Aronia juice doesn’t always meet that pH. Under cottage food an acidifying agent like lemon juice, could be added

-Whole berries sold fresh or frozen to buyers are product of the farm; no licensing or HACCP requirements for farmer

-Juice sold to wholesale buyer is subject to juice HACCP, unless sold to a winery or distiller for fermentation

-If juice is sold to a winery or distiller to be added post-fermentation, juice would be subject to juice HACCP

Aronia, chokeberry, juice, HACCP, product of the farm, wholesale, retail, cottage food

Farm co-owned by Episcopal priest; summer kitchen, camp sites, vineyard, barn; wants to conduct variety of church-related activities including food service and allow private party use of summer kitchen; also, sale of farm products, possible cottage food production


-Water source, septic system, and county zoning permit are needed for any licensing and permits, and licensing may be contingent on each other. FBO should be in communication with both county and food licensing authority simultaneously.

-Summer kitchen can have private party use and Special Event Food Stand use if Special Event food is removed post-event and not available to private parties. A license other than Special Event for the kitchen would prevent private party use.

-FBO should be aware that evolving uses may trigger changing licensing needs and remain in communication with inspector.

Summer kitchen, camp sites, religious exemption, farm winery

Makes food products for special dietary needs and sells online to individuals (retail sale.) Moved to a new location and had to meet retail Food Code requirements for facility.


-Primary activity is food manufacturing and there is no on-site retail shopping

-Online sales to end consumers put this business in the retail category and therefore retail Food Code requirements apply

-MDA advised Hennepin County on appropriate equipment for the food manufacturing

-This model of food manufacturing plus online-only sales is likely to proliferate as online food purchasing becomes mainstream

Retail Food Code, food manufacturing, online sales

Proposed business model of collecting reusable dishware from restaurants’ take-out customers, washing, and returning clean wares to restaurants.


-The proposed scope of Dwala’s service will include pick-up of used wares from consumers; washing/sanitizing/drying/packaging of wares in a central warewashing facility; transport of cleaned wares to restaurants for reuse/refill

-Restaurants using the service would be required to obtain a variance in order to outsource dishwashing.

-Dwala could be licensed under M.S. 157.16 Subd. 3(d)(1)(iv) as a ware washing location with food prepared elsewhere.

-Licensure would mean Dwala would be subject to the Retail Food Code for their dishwashing equipment and processes, which could benefit

Reusable containers, dishwashing service, take-out, restaurants, warewashing

Cross-border sales of wide variety of products coming from Wisconsin into Minnesota farmers’ market.


-MN’s Cottage Food law recognizes both pH of 4.6 or lower and water activity (aw) of 0.85 or lower as criteria for allowed food. WI’s Cottage Food law recognizes only pH of 4.6 or lower as criteria for allowed food.

-Neither state allows cross-border sales of acidic or acidified canned Cottage Food.

-WI residents are allowed to register as MN Cottage Food Producers but must obtain correct WI licensing to produce products allowed to cross the border as MN Cottage Food but not allowed as WI Cottage Food.

-WI residents must obtain correct WI licensing for processed product of the farm that is allowed to be sold in MN without a license as product of the farm.

Wisconsin, Cottage Food, product of the farm, food manufacturing, black garlic, pesto, caramel apples, co-packing, farmers’ market, cross-border sales, acidified food

Wholesale bakery adding a retail sale counter with sandwiches and pastries available to purchase from a case, plus tap beer.


-FBOs should include photos of their facility with their Plan Review application to help avoid confusion and delay.

-Plan Review staff at MDA may use terms that may not be understood by FBOs (e.g., back bar)

-FBOs may use terms in a way that is understood very differently by Plan Review staff (e.g. bar, doorway)

Plan Review, variance, bar, back bar, doorway, sink, beer taps, food counter

Cross-border sales of a wide variety of products between North Dakota and Minnesota by an aggregator operating out of a Minnesota location. Primarily retail but may add wholesale sales.


-No regulation from either MN or ND on cross-border sales of whole, unprocessed fruit or vegetables.

-No cross-border sales of cottage food allowed by ND.

-MN allows farmers to process product of the farm fruit and vegetables for sale. In ND, farmer-processed produce is considered cottage food and may not cross the border into MN.

-Honey, meat, and dairy are handled differently in ND and MN, and there will need to be some follow-up with ND Department of Agriculture.

Product of the farm, North Dakota, food hub, meat inspection, dairy, fruit, vegetables, produce, cottage Food, cross-border sales, honey