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How to: Demystify Florida’s Food Safety Regulating Agencies

Interested in starting a new food related business in Lee County but confused as to what regulatory agency regulates what in Florida?

There are three main agencies that regulate food establishments in Florida: the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Department of Health (DOH) regulates civic and fraternal organizations, bars and lounges that do not prepare foods, and theaters that limit their food service to items customarily served at theaters (such as beverages, popcorn, hotdogs, and nachos).  The Lee County Health Department can be contacted at 239-332-9501 or click here to learn more.

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) regulates whole-sale food operations, convenience stores, supermarkets and grocery stores, coffee shops, bakeries, retail meat and seafood markets, ice and water vending machines, food processing operations, food storage/warehouse operation, non-alcoholic beverage operations (such as juice or smoothie bars) and certain mobile food units selling only prepackaged foods or non-potentially hazardous food items. The FDACS can be contacted by telephone at 1-800-435-7352 or click here to learn more.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates restaurants, most mobile food vehicles, caterers, and most public food service events. The DBPR can be contacted at 850-487-1395 or click here to learn more.

Additionally, the following agencies regulate food services for some of their licensees: Department of Children and Families (childcare facilities, child caring agencies, etc.), Agency for Health Care Administration (hospitals and nursing homes), Agency for Persons with Disabilities (group homes that support and provide services for persons with disabilities).

If you are interested in becoming a Cottage Food Operator under Florida’s Cottage Food Law, cottage food operations require no license or permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and are not inspected by any state government entity. For more information on cottage food operations please click here to reference the FDACS cottage food guidance fact sheet.

Still confused as to what agency may regulate your new food related business? Contact Lee County Extension Office’s Family and Consumer Science Agent, Jennifer Hagen at 239-533-7510 or email Jennifer for more information.

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