10 Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits in NC

If you live in North Carolina and like the notion of making food at home and selling it, you should be aware of the state’s food regulations.

Any food that you grow in your home and sell is subject to these laws. The answer to the question “Do you need a license to sell baked products from home?” is yes.

However, in this article, we try to cover food operations that do not need permits in NC or food operations whose regulation is not so cumbersome.

While reading this article, you may realize that you actually do need a permit to run the food operation you have in mind, if this happens to be the case, then you should also take your time to read the section that talks about how to get your license in North Carolina.

Ensure you stick around to the end of this article as important answers to frequently asked questions are just at the end of this article.]

Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits in NC

In the state of North Carolina, there are no specifically recognized food operations that do not require permits. In some ways, everything is governed.

A pre-approved list contains the foods that are easiest to sell from home. They consist of baked items, jams and jellies, candies, dried mixes, spices, pickles, as well as various sauces and liquids. You need a commercial food license if you wish to sell anything that isn’t on this list.

You will still require a permit even if all of your food is on the cottage food list. The section below contains information on cottage food permits.

In North Carolina, selling meals out of your home requires a permit. There is an application procedure, and it involves a number of phases. These actions, as well as what is and is not permitted for commercial home cooking, are governed by North Carolina Health Department food service laws.

Reading the instructions posted on the North Carolina government website is the first step. Before you may start the adventure, there are a number of prerequisites. Only specific foods qualify, and no matter how hard you try, some plans won’t work with the rules.

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  • The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Meat and Poultry Inspection Service oversees the regulation of meat and goods containing meat.

  • The NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division oversees packaged foods other than meat products. Some of them can be made at home. Although inspections are permitted, no license is necessary.

  • The NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division oversees seafood regulations. Dealers in wholesale seafood must complete the necessary training.

  • The NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division oversees the regulation of dairy products, such as milk, frozen desserts, cheese, and butter. A license is necessary.

  • Several organizations, including the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau, have jurisdiction over wineries. More details are available in the Starting a Commercial Winery guide.

  • To sell products made on their farm, farmers need/do not require a business license.

How to Get Permits for Food Operations in North Carolina

Manufacturers of cheese, butter, milk haulers and testers, automobile antifreeze, and wholesale and retail producers of frozen desserts are all needed to have licenses.

The length of the license and the costs varies. Application is done by the county, so click here and scroll to the county you are in and click to see the application process.

However, for reference, I will be listing the steps for food operators in Orange County.

Environmental Health issues permit following a careful examination of menus, planning, and equipment considerations. Please send an email to the Environmental Health Department if you are unsure whether the food service you are planning requires a permit.

Referrals to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be made for home-based enterprises that prepare non-potentially hazardous foods and baked goods. For more information, producers of packaged goods should consult this Flow Chart.

Do you want to launch a brand-new food preparation and retail enterprise in Orange County?

Before starting any construction, installation, or site preparation, complete this application and send it to Environmental Health with the $250 plan review fee. Remodel only applies to current businesses looking to update their equipment. The rest will be brand-new licenses.

Prior to construction, all chain or franchise establishments must receive clearance from the Facility Plan Review Unit of the Division of Environmental Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Shared-Use Kitchens

Are you considering collaborating in a shared-use kitchen in Orange County? Shared cooking facilities could be of interest to operators who need a commissary or who want to prepare and sell meals as a caterer. Fill out a Shared Use Kitchen application and submit it along with a menu and a $100 plan review fee.


Are you prepared to launch that brand-new restaurant? Complete this application and refer to the Check List (PDF) for requirements 30 days prior to opening once construction, installation, and site preparation are nearly finished. Opening entails hot water, thermometers in place, completely installed equipment, and clean, cool refrigeration, among other things.

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Food Trucks, Other Mobile Food Units, and Push Carts

Push carts, other mobile food vendors, and food trucks? These applications might call for further plan assessment for new trucks as well as a commissary agreement. Send in a complete application with a menu along with a plan review fee of either $150 for mobile food units or $100 for all other submissions. Food trucks may get a complimentary inspection of their gas lines by the NCDA.

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Assuming control of an established business or one that has been closed for less than a year? Before assuming ownership, fill out this application and send it along with a $100 plan review fee to Environmental Health.

Without current permission, it is illegal to run a restaurant. Before closing the original, complete this.

Temporary Food Establishments

Temporary food for events like fairs, festivals, and open displays? Page 2 and Page 3 of the application must be turned in before the event. Food vendors must submit the final application along with their menu, a list of their food suppliers, and a $75 fee.

Why Do I Have To Have A Permit Before I Sell Food?

Because people were preparing and selling food without the right tools or the know-how to handle food in large quantities, there have been several issues with foodborne illnesses.

The purpose of the food service regulations is to safeguard the general public from foodborne illnesses by requiring those who sell food to the general public to have the right tools and operating knowledge.

Do I Need A Permit To Sell Cakes, Candy, Popcorn, And Other Fun Foods?

You will need a business license, but unless you want to serve meals like nachos with cheese, meats, dairy products, cooked vegetables, fruit smoothies, or other potentially dangerous foods, you won’t require a Health Department’s permission.

Even cooking these dishes at home may be against zoning regulations, so you should verify with the zoning department.

What about drinks? Can I sell drinks?

You may market beverages in cans or packages, coffee, and beverages with carbonation that has been authorized.

Pre-packaged beverages cannot be offered in reusable cups; they must either be served from the original can or bottle or from disposable cups.

Tea and lemonade can only be offered if they were made using water that has received approval. For recycling beverage containers, use option A.

I Have My Business License From The Tax Office. Can i go ahead and serve food?

No. Taxable income criteria are the only things covered by a company license. You need to have a documented permission from the Health Department before you may legitimately offer meals to the general public. Once all conditions for obtaining a permit have been satisfied, this permit will be written there.

I See People Selling Food On The Streets All The Time. What About Them?

If these people are currently covered by a Health Department permit, it needs to be displayed on the property. You can call the Health Department to report the operation if you cannot find the Health Department permit (remember, this is a business license).


How Do I Legally Sell Food in NC?

Cottage food producers in North Carolina have to go through a drawn-out application procedure that involves a house inspection. Cottage food producers in North Carolina are required to prepare a thorough business plan, research local zoning and permitting requirements, make labels, and present a recent water bill before an inspection.

Do I Need A License To Sell Homemade Food in NC?

There is no license, but there are requirements that must be met, including an application, a house inspection, and sometimes product testing. A food regulatory specialist will get in touch with you to schedule an inspection of your home processing plant within two weeks of receiving your application. See this section for additional requirements.

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Do Food Trucks in NC Need A Commissary?

Your food truck must work in tandem with a commissary or restaurant that has been granted permission in North Carolina in order to secure these licenses.


What Food Can I Sell From Home?

Only low-risk items like coffee and tea blends, dry foods like cereals, chips, and popcorn, baked products like bread, cookies, and some cakes, as well as jams and preserves, are allowed for sale by those who produce food at home. There are several foods that fall within safe limits.


Are Food Trucks Inspected in NC?

The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code (also known as the LP-Gas Code), which is the minimum standard specified by state law, is examined by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Standards Division.

Is Starting A Food Truck Business A Good Idea?

A food truck is a fantastic business concept if you’re looking to earn money. Successful food trucks can make over $500,000 annually with initial costs of about $40,000. It typically takes three to twelve months to launch a food truck, and there are some steps to take. Discover the legislation and food trucks in your area.


What’s The Most Profitable Food To Sell?

  • Average profit margin of 30% in the manufacture of honey.

  • 25% average profit margin for coffee shops.

  • Average profit margin in the popcorn industry is 22%.

  • Custom cakes typically have a profit margin of 19%.

  • Poultry chicken average profit margin of -17%.

  • Pizza has a 15% profit margin on average.

  • Fruit juice has a typical profit margin of 14%.

How Much Do Food Trucks Make in Charlotte NC?

The average annual salary for the Food Truck job category in Charlotte as of October 15, 2022 is $29,395 per year. That comes out to roughly $14.13 an hour, in case you need a quick pay calculator. This amounts to $565 each week or $2,449 per month.

How Do I Get A Food Truck License in Charlotte NC?

Temporary Infrastructure Agreement (TIA) permits cost $300 and are good for one year. It permits you to take up residence in specific Food Truck Activity Areas. Through the application process, Charlotte Center City Partners will assist you.

What Fire Extinguishers Are Needed For A Food Truck?

One of the most crucial lessons to be learned from these recommendations is that food trucks need to have at least one Class K fire extinguisher. To combat additional fire risks unrelated to cooking, they also need the standard ABC fire extinguisher.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Running A Food Truck?

  • A food truck business involves a large commitment of personal time and effort; it is not a profession, and there are no “business hours.”
  • The failure of a food truck might still result in a loss of time and money.

Having read about the Food Operations that do not need permits in NC, check out the Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits In California.

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