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Licenses to Consider

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Food Establishment Licenses

The NYSDAM Division of Food Safety and Inspection is responsible for the licensing and inspection of food establishments. These licenses are issued by the Division, are usually renewed every two years (except disposal and transportation licenses which are issued annually), and can be revoked by the Department for violations. The NYSDAM Division of Food Safety and Inspection may issue the following licenses for the following types of operations:

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Article 20-C Food Processing Establishmentss

Retail food stores or commercial kitchens that conduct any type of food preparation such as meat or cheese grinding, heating foods, sandwich making, operate beverage-dispensing machines, prepare sushi, salad bars, or other ready to eat exposed food packaging activity.

Wholesale bakeries.

Wholesale food manufacturers of any product that is not under the jurisdiction of the USDA Federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Program or the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Milk Control.
Beverage plants that produce soft drinks, flavored waters, beer, wine, fruit juice, etc.

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Article 28 Retail Food Stores

Any Retail Food Store within the State where food and food products are offered to the consumer and intended for off-premises consumption. As defined in Article 28, a retail food store does not include establishments that handle only pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous foods, roadside markets that offer only fresh fruits and vegetables for sale, food service establishments, or food and beverage vending machines.

In addition, retail food stores licensed by the Department pursuant to Article 20-C (Food Processing Establishments) are exempt from licensure under this Article. area license is required if offering for sale potentially hazardous foods, which can include any of the following: milk, shell eggs, and refrigerated or frozen meats.

NOTE: Farmers who sell their own meat slaughtered, cut, processed, packaged and labeled under the appropriate inspection facility (5-A or USDA) do NOT need either an Article 28 or an Article 20-C license. However, if a farmer sells the product of another farmer then he or she will need this Article 28 license. If a farmer repackages his meat or further process federally inspected carcasses from animals he raised (for example, cut, debone, grind, or cure the meat products), then than farmer is operating as a commercial kitchen and needs a 20-C license.

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Article 28 Food Warehouses

Any food warehouse facility within the State in which food is held for commercial distribution is considered a warehouse and must apply for this license.

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Article 17-B Food Salvager

A business that receives distress or damaged food or food use products for reconditioning, culling, and or sorting for the purpose of resale of satisfactory products is considered a food salvager.

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Article 19 Refrigerated Warehouse/Locker Plant

A facility that offers refrigerated storage space for rent in their building for the storage of food commodities or produce owned by other businesses is a refrigerated warehouse or food locker. The commodities being held must be lot coded and not held for over two years without approval for extended storage. Produce-only facilities pay a reduced license fee compared to other facilities.

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Article 5-C Licensing of Rendering Plants

Disposal plants that process animals or inedible meat for other than human consumption require this license. In addition, businesses that operate a transportation service for transporting for hire unprocessed animal bodies or meat products not intended for human consumption.

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12 thoughts on “Licenses to Consider

  1. Bill McNamara says:

    I’m looking to possibly start a small farm business. Fresh herbs, meat and egg chickens, honey and meat rabbits. What type of license would I need and are their local processors for the chicken and rabbit or can I do it myself?

  2. Sarah Diana Nechamen says:

    Hi Bill,
    There are a few resources you can check for information on licenses.
    1) New York State Ag and Markets
    2) Factsheet #27 of the Guide to Farming in New York has information on licensing and other requirements for produce, honey, chickens and rabbits.
    3) Your local cooperative extension agent. A full directory of CCE contacts can be found here.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Victor Putnam says:

    I have a Food Processing License Article 20-C.
    I want to sell milk and meats do i need an RETAIL FOOD STORE LICENSE article 28?

  4. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Victor,
    Thanks for your question! Article 28 Retail Food Stores only applies to stores which sell for off-premises consumption and do not conduct food processing, so if you have the Food Processing License Article 20C and are processing food on-site to sell then you shouldn’t need Article 28. This page might be able to give you more information.

  5. Robert Senn says:

    I have applied for a 20c Food Processing License. The kitchen is ready to go and just waiting on AG and Market to schedule inspection. How long from application being sent does this take on average? Anything I should do to speed it up?

  6. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Robert,
    I think you would have to contact the Department of Ag and Markets directly to get an idea of how long in would take. In particular, Stephen Stich is the director of Food Safety and Inspection and can be reached at

  7. Christopher Dembik says:

    I am starting up a small (50lbs a week) mushroom farm for retail sale (straw grown oysters and log grown shiitake). Do I need a Article 20-C Food Processing Establishments license to sell fresh mushrooms, or is that only if I want to dehydrate them? Thank you for your time.

  8. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Christopher,
    The Article 20-C license applies just to processed foods, and you can find a list of what does and doesn’t apply here. It looks like if you’re doing any type of cutting or re-packing, you would need a license, but if you’re just selling whole fresh mushrooms you shouldn’t need one. If you want to double check, you can contact the NYSDAM division director of food safety and inspection, Stephen Stich, at 518-457-4492 or Hope this helps!

  9. Zach Simon says:

    I was interested in selling pizzas for a local farmers market in NY. I do not have an actual space, I’d be working out of an approved kitchen in a culinary incubator in BK. My question is do I need to get a 20c? Will the DHS in NYC need to come to my little rented space and “inspect” me or do I automatically qualify because I work in an incubator that has all the correct papers and permits all ready? Thanks so much!

  10. Talia Isaacson says:

    Hi Zach,
    I’d recommend getting in touch with the NYSDAM division director of food safety and inspection, Stephen Stich. He can be reached at 518-457-4492 or at Best of luck!

  11. Christopher Lindsley says:

    I need clearafication on what licenses I need, or do I need one. I already sell firewood, and have run a farm stand and have cut deer for years. Now I have bought a meat case, and want to cut already inspected red meats and poultry. I intend to grind and make sausage. I have put in 3 bay sink and hand wash sink,and hot and cold water. I am HACCP certified and work in a FSIS plant, and work with NY state At and markets inspector. You would think I would know, but I have read so many regulations that now I’m just not sure.

  12. Talia Isaacson says:

    Hi Christopher,
    Since you’ll be cutting and grinding meat, you’ll need a 20-C License. You can check out this page for more information, and if you want to double-check, I’d recommend getting in touch with the NYSDAM division director of Food Safety and Inspection, Stephen Stich, at 518-457-4492 or You can also contact your local extension officer, who can be found here. Hope this helps, and good luck!

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