How to Start a Food Business in Indiana

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There are many types of food businesses in Indiana, from restaurants to vending carts. No matter what the establishment or type of food being served, all Indiana food enterprises must have valid permits and pay specific fees before they are allowed to operate. The regulations are in place mainly to protect the safety of the public, since the preparation and selling of food can be hazardous if not done correctly. Before starting a food business in Indiana, you will need to do a bit of research and preparation.

  • Determine where you will be serving or producing your food--this will affect how many permits, and what type of permits, you need to obtain. For example, you may want to vend at temporary events such as fairs or farmers markets, open a restaurant, produce your food in a rented commercial kitchen for wholesale distribution or purchase a food manufacturing plant.

  • Contact your local county health department and inquire what permits you will need for your type of food business. If your food business will be located on state property, such as a vending cart in a park or cafeteria located in a government-owned office building, you will need to secure the "Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements" packet from the Indiana State Department of Health.

  • Develop a plan for your food business's facility according to Indiana health-department guidelines and those of the Fire and Building Services department. The exception is if you will be renting a commercial kitchen or vending at a temporary event. In those cases, the owner of the commercial kitchen or person organizing the event will have the documents you need.

  • Ensure that you and all employees of your food business have received food handling and safety certification. To find the locations and times of classes in your area, contact your county health department.

  • Submit your facility plans, certification information and the appropriate fees to your county healthy department in order to register as a food business. Without going through this process, you will not be operating as a legal Indiana food business, and will be subject to fines. You must notify the health department at least 30 days before you open your food business or serve any food to the public.

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