Starting a Food Business

Step 1. What type of business do you want to start?

Food Establishment. Any operation that offers food, which includes beverages, directly to the end consumer is considered a Food Establishment. Common examples are grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, school food service operations, caterers, bakeries, mobile food operations, bars, taverns, and delicatessens. Any place where food is served or prepared for sale or service on the premises or elsewhere. Any other eating or drinking establishment or operation where food is served or provided for the public with or without charge falls under the Food Establishment umbrella.

Unattended Food Establishment (Micro Market). A food business that is Unattended or is a Micro Market is required to have a Food Establishment Category IV License. Category IV Micro Markets may offer prepackaged food and beverages, including those prepackaged foods and beverages that are required to be held at a temperature of 41°F or below for food safety; unpackaged food that does not require time and temperature control for safety; or  prepackaged food and beverages, including those prepackaged foods and beverages that are required to be held at a temperature of 41°F or below for food safety, and unpackaged food that does not require time and temperature control for safety.

Category IV Micro Markets must be located in a structure that has limited or controlled access, including an office building with keyed entrances or security guards and must have following controls:

1) Continuous electronic monitoring of all food items that require temperature control for safety;

2) A means to prevent lawful purchase of a food that has been held outside of the time and temperature combinations specified in the Kansas food code by physical lockout, transaction lockout, or other equivalent method; and

3) Remote monitoring and recording of video surveillance covering all areas of the food establishment.

Food vending machines.  In Kansas, food vending machines are defined as any self-service device, which, upon payment, dispenses unit servings of food, either in bulk or in packages. Such device shall not necessitate replenishing between each vending operation. Food vending machine companies are defined as “any person in the business of operating and servicing food vending machines.”

Food vending machines are exempt from licensing as long as three requirements are met. First, the facility that services the machine is licensed as a food establishment, or if located in another state, licensed according to the laws of such state. Second, the food vending machine company/operator of the food vending machine must maintain a current record of the location of each food vending machine it operates or services. The records must be made available to Food Safety Program staff on request. Third, each food vending machine must conspicuously display the food vending machine company/operator’s name and phone number.

Any vending machine that only dispenses canned or bottled soft drinks or prepackaged food that does not require temperature control for safety is not subject to these requirements. However, servicing facilities for these exempt machines may be required to be licensed if the facility is located in Kansas and does not meet any exemption. For example, if the servicing facility handles unpackaged food, handles food that requires temperature control for safety, or holds more than 200 cubic feet of packaged food that does not require temperature control for safety. 

Food processing plant. Any commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels or stores food for human consumption and provides the food for further distribution is considered a food processing plant.

Dairy operation. A dairy operation includes a dairy manufacturing plant, a distributor of milk or dairy products, a milk hauler, a milk or cream transfer or receiving station, a manufacture of single service dairy containers or closures. For more information, please visit the Dairy Inspection Program page.

Meat or poultry plant. These are plants that slaughter, prepare or package meat, meat products, poultry and poultry products. For more information, please visit the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program page.

Step 2. Submit Plans

Review Facility Guidelines for Food Establishments, Mobile Food Establishments, or Food Processors.

Complete the Plan Review Guide.  Plans can be submitted by email (preferred), mail, or fax.

The plan review process helps to prevent costly changes after construction or renovation.  Please plan on a minimum of 4 weeks, prior to the licensing, to allow for changes should they be required during the review process. Onsite planning inspections are also available upon request. You may contact the program at (785) 564-6767 to get in touch with your inspector to schedule a planning inspection in addition to submitting your plans. 

You may use any of the following calculators to assist you with the planning process:
Dry Storage
Water Heater

Email (preferred) submissions:
FAX submissions: (785) 564-6767
Mail submissions: Food Safety Plans, Kansas Department of Agriculture, 1320 Research Park Drive, Manhattan, KS 66502

KDA will review plan submittals once received.  Please allow a minimum of 4 weeks to review plans.  A letter will be sent to you after your plans have been reviewed.

Step 3. Complete Application and Submit Fees

Once the application has been received the inspector will be notified.  He/she will then contact you to schedule a licensing inspection prior to operation.

If you are a Corporation, LLC, or another form of business entity besides an individual or partnership, you will be required to register with the Kansas Secretary of State prior to being issued your license.  You may contact them at 785-296-4564 for more information.

Step 4. Schedule a Licensing Inspection

Once the facility is ready to operate, a Food Safety Inspector will conduct a licensing inspection. The inspector will check the facility and all equipment.

Contact the program at (785) 564-6767 or to request a licensing inspection if you have not heard from your inspector within five business days after submitting the application.
If you have questions about the business you want to start, please contact the program at (785) 564-6767 or for more specific guidance.

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