Food Service Laws -State Differences

Are you a chef who is moving to a new state? Do you work in any food service position and might be moving soon? You may want to look up the food service laws before you go as every state has different rules- how complicated! You'd think that food safety would be the same everywhere and while preventing food borne illnesses and public safety may be everyone's goal, each state has adopted its own set of rules- sometimes rules can even vary by county.

When I think of a kitchen producing food for commercial uses, I think of a restaurant kitchen or a bakery kitchen or even a mass-producing warehouse kitchen. But have you ever heard of cottage food laws? These are laws in some states, North Carolina and Maine for example, where you can operate a whole bakery right from your house (and many other types of food production can be done at home too based on the state)! Clear a shelf in your fridge and start a business! Head over to Connecticut and don't even think about it- there you must have a fully licensed kitchen completely separate from any residence. Food service manager certification requirements also vary from state to state. In Maryland, only one food service manager must be on duty while a kitchen is operating and that person must retake the certification class every three years. In California, everyone on staff must have a food service handlers card within 30 days of hire- from the dishwasher, to the wait staff to the head chef, everyone must be certified. Head on over to New York City and after your 15 hours of training by the NYC Health Department, you never need to renew your certificate again! Luckily, all of the rules and regulations regarding food service manager licenses is readily available online, just do a quick search and you will easily find all the requirements for your state and county.

I discovered some fun (and very oddly specific) laws we discovered while doing research. For example, in Wisconsin, it is illegal to serve inmates and students artificial butter. In North Carolina, stealing grease from a commercial kitchen will get you a misdemeanor or even a felony charge if the oil is worth over $1000. And my favorite, in Tennessee, you are not allowed to fall asleep in a cheese factory- am I the only one who thinks that you should not be allowed to sleep in any food service facility? Fun facts aside, knowing your state and county's specific food service laws is extremely important. Many food safety certification programs are accepted nationwide and may transfer from place to place. Before you invest in your certification, make sure the program you choose is legitimate and the license you receive valid for your state and county.


Posted in Blog on Apr 08, 2017

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