Frequently Asked Questions - Food Manufacturers, Wholesalers, and Warehouses

Can I manufacture food in my home kitchen?

The rules do not allow any type of manufacturing or holding of food for distribution in any areas used as living or sleeping quarters unless it is completely partitioned from your home.

 

What is a food manufacturer?

You are considered a manufacturer if you: (the following are not all-inclusive)

Produce a food product or a component of a food and either package it for customer self-serve or sell to another business that will serve to customers or resale (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, etc.)

Have another firm produce your product, but your company's name and address is on the label (see “What is considered a Private Label Manufacturer?” below).


What is "wholesale"?

The term "Wholesale" means to sell something to another individual, company, store (i.e. grocery store, convenience stores, restaurants, etc.), for the purpose of *resale (*serve or sell to customers).

 

What is "retail"?

Retail means to sell product directly to the final consumer.

 

What is considered a "Private Label Manufacturer"?

A Private Label Manufacturer is a person that does NOT directly manufacture product. Another firm makes the product, and the product is labeled with the private label manufacturer’s own name and address.

 

If a Private Label Manufacturer doesn't actually manufacturer any product, then WHY must I license as a food manufacturer?

By placing your name and address on the label, you are responsible for the purity and proper labeling of the product. Therefore, you must license as a food manufacturer.

 

What type of license do I need if I just want to store food in a warehouse and distribute to retail outlets?

You will need a food wholesalers, warehouse operator or a food wholesale registrant license.  How to License.

   

Do I need a license to sell candies, soft drinks, chips, and etc. through my company-owned vending machines?

No license is needed from this department. Be sure to check with your local health department for any local requirements.

 

How do I obtain a food manufacturer or wholesale distributor license?

License applications can be downloaded from the Foods Group webpage: (http://www.dshs.texas.gov/foods/).  Print the application off and send in with the appropriate fee. Additionally, you may be able to apply and pay online using DSHS Online Applications.  Applications without fees will not be processed.

 

How long will it take before I get my license?

If the information is complete, you can expect your license within 4-6 weeks. If you do not receive your license in 6 weeks, please call the Foods Business Filing and Verification Group at (512) 834-6626.

 

How do I know what fee to pay? I'm just starting my business and have no idea on the amount of Gross Annual Food Sales (GAV).

Make an educated guess on what you think your approximate GAV will be for the next year. If you underpay, the inspector will document this in the report and you will be required to pay the appropriate fee when you renew the license.

 

I want to start a pet bakery manufacturing pet foods, pet treats, etc. What license do I need?

We do not regulate the manufacturing of pet food. You will need to contact the Office of the Texas State Chemists, Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service at (979) 845-1121. You can visit the Office of the Texas State Chemist website for more information. You can also visit the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pet Foods web page for more information.

 

I personally know several people who are making products in their home, packaging and selling at flea markets, festivals, fair, crafts shows, etc. How can they do this in their home and without a license?

An individual who manufactures and packages food for sale is required to be licensed as a food manufacturer. A requirement of being licensed as a food manufacturer is that no manufacturing can take place in the home kitchen. Individuals who make products in their home are in violation of the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 431 except for individuals operating under the Cottage Food Bill whose range of operation are restricted to the limited scope of food production processes, sale, and distribution allowed under the Cottage Food Bill. Information about operating under the Cottage Food Bill can be accessed by visiting Cottage Food Production Operations web page.

 

My garage is completely partitioned from my home. Can I use this to manufacture food, hold food for distribution, or repackage?

If your garage is in compliance with all relevant rules and statutes concerning food safety, then you may use your garage. There must be an outside entrance, and you must not be able to enter the garage through the house.

 

How do I know if my garage is in compliance with all relevant rules and statutes of the State of Texas?

The Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Warehousing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food code (25 Texas Administrative Code Part 1, Chapter 229, Subchapter N), or GMP’s for short, will need to be reviewed to determine compliance with facility requirements. A few requirements are, but not limited to: (1) at least one hand wash sink with hot (minimum 100oF) and cold running water, (2) sanitation of food-contact surfaces (generally including at a minimum, an additional 2 bay sink), including utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment, that shall be cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food*, (3) easily cleanable surfaces that are impervious to moisture including floors, walls, and ceilings, (4) tightly sealed windows, doors, and other entries to prevent the entrance of rodents, pest, vermin, etc. and (5) sufficient lighting and facility suitable in size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations.

*Note: firms that manufacture food and sell directly to retail consumers are subject to the Texas Food Establishment Rules.  Please review these Rules as they have more specific requirements concerning ware wash sinks and equipment. 

 

What if I qualify for both a DSHS Food Manufacturer license and a DSHS issued Food Establishment permit?

If you are in an area that does not have a local (city or county) health department and you conduct business operations subject to both the DSHS Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Warehousing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food and the DSHS Texas Food Establishment Rules (or GMP’s), the license/permit that results in the higher fee is the appropriate one to obtain.  (contact Foods Business Filing and Verification at 512-834-6626)

If you conduct business operations subject to both the DSHS Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Warehousing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food and regulations under a local (city or county) health department, you will need to obtain both the local permit/license, and the DSHS Food Manufacturer license.

 

What if I have a location where I manufacture my food and I store my manufactured food at another location?

You will need both a Food Manufacturer’s license AND the appropriate license for the storage location.  See How to License for guidance on the appropriate secondary license.  There may be a choice on whether to license the second location under either a Warehouse Operator OR a Food Wholesaler license.

 

If I am leasing food storage space from a location that qualifies as a Food Wholesaler or a Food Manufacturer, what license do I need?

In this case, you must obtain a Food Wholesaler license, even if it appears your operation qualifies as a Food Wholesaler Registrant.

 

Can I manufacture or hold food in a portable building/separate facility at my home residence?

Yes, as long as the building/facility meets the requirements of the Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Warehousing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food (GMP's) found in Title 25 Texas Administrative Code 229.210-229.222.

 

Can I use a private well as the source of water for manufacturing operations?

Yes, but the private well will require special testing according to 25 TAC 229.217 (1)(B)(ii).

 

What are the requirements for my manufacturing kitchen?

Please review GMP's 229.210-229.222 (GMP’s). A few requirements are, but not limited to: (1) at least one hand wash sink with hot (minimum 100oF) and cold running water, (2) sanitation of food-contact surfaces (generally involving an additional 2 bay sink, minimum, for ware-washing), including utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment, that shall be cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food*, (3) easily cleanable surfaces that are impervious to moisture including floors, walls, and ceilings, (4) tightly sealed windows, doors, and other entries to prevent the entrance of rodents, pest, vermin, etc. and (5) sufficient lighting and facility suitable in size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations.

*Note: firms that manufacture food and sell directly to retail consumers are subject to the Texas Food Establishment Rules.  Please review these Rules as they have more specific requirements concerning ware wash sinks and equipment. 

   

What kind of labeling do I need on my product?

The four main parts to a label are, (1) the common or usual name of the product, (2) net quantity of content statement, (3) name and address of manufacturer (if you are a private label manufacturer, your name and address will be prefaced by "Distributed by:" or "Manufactured for:"), and (4) a list of ingredients in descending order of predominance. Please review the Food Labeling web page for more information on labeling. The labeling can be more involved if you intend to make nutrient content or health claims.

 

Do I have to have a Nutrition Facts panel on my product label?

Yes, unless you qualify for an exemption.  Please see Small Business Nutritional Labeling Exemption for more details.

 

I want to make a non-refrigerated or shelf stable salsa, BBQ sauce and/or other canned foods. What must I do?

The production of salsa and canned foods fall under two specific federal regulations CFR 113 and CFR 114. In order to determine whether you must comply with these regulations, we recommend you first contact a Food Process Authority.  Dr. Al Wagner a process authority in Texas - Texas A&M University Extension; 979-845-7023.  There is also a list of Food Process Authorities online that is searchable by state.  See the Association of Food and Drug Officials searchable list. A Food Process Authority must determine if you need to have your product evaluated or not.  If the evaluation classifies your product as an "acidified" or "low-acid canned" food, you must:

1) complete forms 2541 and 2541a and submit to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
2) attend a Better Process Control School and your Process Authority may have or know of a course that would qualify
3) follow critical limits for production of product established by Dr. Wagner or other process authority   
4) maintain and keep production records for at least 2 years 
5) assure a coding system for food production to indicate different lots/batches of foods produced

                         

Do I need a license from the city or county health department?

It would be a good idea to call your city or county health department to discuss this issue. The State of Texas has no control over issuing city/county permits or licenses.

 

I have some labels that I want to get "Approved" before making mass quantities of product. Who do I send them to?

The Foods Group PSQA will be glad to answer any specific questions with regards to your labels based on our rules and regulations. However, we do not "approve" labels. You may contact us at (512) 834-6670.

 

Why do I need a license to bag ice?

Ice is considered a food. The definition of a food manufacturer is anyone who combines, purifies, processes, or packages food for sale. Therefore, bagging ice requires you to license as a food manufacturer. A local or county health department license/permit may be a separate requirement and does not substitute for a manufacturer's license from the state.

 

Is a farmer/ produce harvester exempted from licensure?    

It depends.  A person, firm or corporation that only harvests, packages, or washes raw fruits and vegetables for shipment at the location of harvest is not required to license with DSHS.  Operations beyond those listed or those same operations that occur off of the farm that is under the control of the farm of harvest may be subject to licensure by DSHS.

   

Can you provide some examples of fee-exempt and/or license exempt operations? 

Distributors of ready to drink beverages in sealed containers that do not have the firm’s name on them are exempt but still subject to inspection.  This does not include distributors of drink concentrates, drink mixes or product identified as a dietary supplement–they must license.

A restaurant acting as a commissary, providing food primarily intended for immediate consumption on the premises of a retail outlet under common ownership is exempt from licensing with DSHS.

A restaurant providing food for immediate consumption to a political subdivision or to a licensed non-profit organization, if the restaurant would not otherwise be considered a food wholesaler.

A broker that does not own the product or have their name on the product but simply coordinates a supplier with a customer.

   


If you find you need more information, please call us at 512-834-6670

Last updated April 2, 2019