Health Department

Food, Lodging & Pools
Public Service Center
250 S. 4th St., Room 510
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Frequently Asked Questions

Return to Permits for Minneapolis Events page

Frequently Asked Questions by Sponsors:

Frequently Asked Questions by Food and Beverage Vendors:

Frequently Asked Questions about Seasonal Food Permits:

Frequently Asked Questions about Requirements:

 

Frequently Asked Questions by Sponsors:

  1. What is the application process for the Event Food Sponsor?
    1. Decide who your vendors will be well in advance of your event.
    2. Your vendors need to give you their license, permit or registration number OR fill out a Short Term Food Permit and give the application to you. 
      • Get the license, permit or registration number from the following vendors that DO NOT NEED Short-Term Food Permits: 
        • Licensed Minneapolis Mobile Food Vehicle vendor
        • Licensed Minneapolis Limited Mobile vendor 
        • Vendors with a Minneapolis Seasonal Food Permit 
        • Cottage Food Law exempt vendors registered with Minnesota Department of Agriculture. (Look up license here. Full URL: http://www2.mda.state.mn.us/webapp/lis/default.jsp )
        • Product of the Farm vendors
    3. If your event has wine or beer sampling, determine if you have any Pour Only vendors (see Section B of your Event Food Sponsor Permit application). 
    4. Complete your Event Food Sponsor Permit application.
    5. Decide how your vendors will give you their payment for their Short Term Food Permit fees. If you will be mailing or bringing in hard copies, each vendor should give you a check for their permit fee. Checks should be payable to "Minneapolis Finance." If you want to fax or email your applications, all fees must be paid with a single credit card transaction. If you pay by credit card, your vendors will pay their permit fees directly to you. 
    6. Collect Short Term Food Permit applications and fee payments from vendors. 
    7. Submit your Event Food Sponsor Permit application and all Short Term Food Permit applications to Minneapolis Environmental Health at least 10 business days before the start of your event. See section E of the Event Food Sponsor Permit application for information on submitting 

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  1. When are food permit applications due?
    The Event Food Sponsor Permit application and any associated Short Term Food PErmit applications must be turned in by the Event Food Sponsor at least 10 business days before the start of the event.  

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  1. What if applications are late?
    Late applications will be charged a double fee. If you are an Event Food Sponsor, see Section E of the Event Food Sponsor Permit application. If you are a food or beverage vendor,see Section H of the Short Term Food Permit application. 

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  1. Why is an Event Food Sponsor needed?
    The Event Food Sponsor has an important role in helping to protect the public’s health. The Event Food Sponsor collects Short-Term Food Permit applications and fees from vendors, lists all invited vendors on their own Event Food Sponsor Permit application, submits all completed materials, communicates with Health Inspectors as needed, and oversees FOOD SAFETY at the event.

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  1. Is my event Public or Private?
    Most events are public events, including ticketed events. If general members of the public can purchase tickets or attend for free, the event is public.

    Private events are those that only a pre-defined group of people are invited or can attend. Examples include family reunions, club or team celebrations and employee appreciation dinners. Private events do not require food permits, but can still use Food Safety Materials found here.

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  1. How long can my event last?
    Temporary events in Minnesota are limited to a maximum of 10 days. In Minneapolis, an event may run for up to ten consecutive days, or may be divided into a maximum of three running times. For example, an event could run three (3) days one week, three (3) days the next week and four (4) days during the final week of the event - pending city approval.

    An event may run for up to ten days at one time, or may be divided into a maximum of three running times. For example, an event could run 3 days one week, 3 days the next and 4 days during the final week of the event – pending city approval.

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  1. Are there any additional requirements for serving alcohol?
    Yes. Alcohol can only be served at a public event with the approval of a Temporary Liquor License obtained by a nonprofit organization, or the approval of an Expansion of License for an existing liquor license. Contact Minneapolis Business Licensing for further information:
    612-673-2080 or http://www.minneapolismn.gov/licensing/

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  1. If my restaurant has an approved Expansion of License, do I need food permits?
    If food or beverages are prepared (including plating), or if alcoholic drinks with ice or garnish, are made outside your regularly licensed space you need an Event Food Sponsor Permit and Short Term Food Permit. No fee will be charged as long as your establishment is the only vendor. 

    If no food or beverages are served and if alcoholic drinks are not made with ice or garnish, no additional permits are needed. Your Temporary Expansion of License allows for tap and bottle service. 

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  1. If I plan to give away product samples, are food permits needed? 
    Yes, if food or beverage products are given to members of the public, food permits are needed. This includes prepackaged items, regardless of whether they are meant to be consumed immediately or at a later time. Guerilla marketing of food is not allowed and will result in orders to cease and in fines. 

    There are two permitting options available to sample food to the public in Minneapolis: 

    Option 1: Seasonal Food Permit ($232)
    Once approved, you may use this permit to vend/sample food at any approved community event or farmers market you are invited to by the organizer. This is the preferred sampling method to streamline permitting. This permit is valid April 1 - March 31. The Seasonal Food Permit may not be used alone. 

    Option 2: Event Food Sponsor Permit ($87) and Short Term Food Permit (free)
    you may apply to hold your own sampling event (Maximum of 10 consecutive days). This will be approved ONLY IF certain criteria are met, including: 

    Sampling events in the Downtown Improvement District will obtain the prior approval of the Downtown Council regarding location, dates(s) and time(s), and share that approval with Minneapolis Environmental Health when food permit applications are submitted. Contact the Downtown Council at 612-338-3807 or at the link above. 

    For sampling that will involve tables, tents, parking lanes, right-of-way lanes, sidewalk obstruction, amplified sound, or other "footprint" conditions must contact Business Licensing and obtain any indicated city permits and permissions. Contact Business Licensing at 612-673-2080. 

    Sampling must be stationary, with a maximum of two locations (adjacent corners or blocks) for each Short Term Food Permit. Additional Short Term Food Permits each cost an additional $87. 

    Sampling in public spaces outside the Downtown Improvement District should be able to demonstrate connection with nearby businesses or community organizations.

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  1. Do indoor events require food permits?
    Yes, indoor events that are not taking place specifically in a licensed commercial kitchen need an Event Food Sponsor Permit.

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  1. My event is very small – are permits needed?
    Yes, even small events need an Event Food Sponsor Permit and Short-Term Food Permits for each vendor. Because the first Short-Term Food Permit is FREE, events with a single vendor only need to pay $87.00.

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  1. My event is large – do I need to provide a map of food stand locations?
    For large events, a map is helpful and may be required. This may be submitted later than application materials, if necessary.

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  1. My event is a Block Party – how do I submit food permit application materials?
    Block Party Application forms are turned in to Business Licensing well before the Food Permit applications are due. Block Party organizers must give their Event Sponsor Food Permit Application and fee and Short-Term Food Permit application(s) and fee(s) directly to Minneapolis Development Review, as stated on the application form. This will help to prevent lost or delayed applications.

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  1. Can I hold an event on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis?
    Nicollet Mall is currently under construction and many activities there are restricted. To hold an event on or near Nicollet Mall, you must obtain the additional approval of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District. Contact MDID at 612-338-3807 or http://www.minneapolisdid.com/nicolletmall

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  1. If my event is on Minneapolis Park and Rec Board Property (MPRB) – do I need food permits?
    Yes, if the event is open to the public, an Event Food Sponsor Permit is required.

    If the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is organizing or participating in a public event at one of their parks, MPRB will serve as the Event Food Sponsor and work directly with Minneapolis Environmental Health to submit all applications. Contact the Park Manager for details.

    If the event is private (such as a family reunion, sports team celebration or employee appreciation day) no food permits are required.

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  1. Are any events that are exempt and do not need food permits? 
    Yes, several exemptions are in Minnesota State Statute to the requirement of licensing or permitting of food events or food vendors. The exemptions are very specific. It is the responsibility of the individual(s) utilizing any of the following exemptions to make sure they meet the qualifications listed in the individual State  exemption and follow through on all requirements. 

    Possible Permitting Exemptions Include the Following: 

       View the full list of exemptions: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=157.22

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  1. What if my permit applications are late?
    Any application packets received within ten (10) business days of the event start-date will be charged 100% late fee for all permit applications. For example, rather than a fee of $87.00 the fee will increase to $174.00.

    Application forms submitted within two days of the event may not be processed or approved.

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  1. Can I add a late vendor after my applications have been sent in?
    If your late vendor is from a category that dos not require a Short Term Food Permit, email your request to EnvironmentalHealthPermit@minneapolismn.gov. Be sure to include the name and start date of your event. If the addition is approved, you will be emailed an updated Event Food Sponsor Permit certificate. 

    If your late vendor needs a Short Term Food Permit, you must submit their application and ensure the regular fee and late fee are paid. Include an updated copy of your Event food Sponsor Permit application form, showing the addition of the late vendor. 

    Requests to add a late vendor within two days of the event may not be approved, or the vendor's menu may be restricted.

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  2. Do Vendors just sampling wine or beer need Short-Term Food Permits?

    Maybe.

    Vendors are REQUIRED to have a short term permit if they serve beverages:

    1) Requiring refrigeration (potentially hazardous), OR
    2) Garnished (even with fruit garnish), OR
    3) Poured over ice, OR
    4) Stored in ice. Vendors do not need a Short-Term Food Permit if they are BEVERAGE ONLY VENDORS.

    BEVERAGE ONLY VENDORS do not need a Short-Term Food Permit. Beverage only vendors MUST serve only wine, beer, water, soda, or other soft drinks not requiring refrigeration AND beverage is dispensed from a can, bottle or keg, with no ice and no garnish.

    Beverage only vendors may be listed on the Event Food Sponsor Permit as BEVERAGE ONLY VENDORS at no additional cost. Beverage only vendors do not need to fill out their own Short-Term Permit application.
     

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Frequently Asked Questions by Food and Beverage Vendors:

  1. How do I submit my Short Term Food Permit?
    Give your Short Term Food Permit application to your Event Food Sponsor. Do not send your Short Term Food Permit application directly to the City. 

    The event food sponsor will receive an Event Permit Certificate by email confirming whether all vendors are approved. Please contact your event food sponsor for your approved Short Term Food Permit number. 

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  1. How do I pay my Short Term Food Permit fee? 
    Give your payment to your event food sponsor. Your event food sponsor may ask you to pay them directly (if they are making a single payment for all food permit applications) or they may ask you to provide a check made out to Minneapolis Finance to submit with your paper application.

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  1. Is my food license from the Minnesota Department of Health or the Minnesota Department of Agriculture accepted in Minneapolis?
    No. These licenses are not accepted in Minneapolis. The only vendors who do not need to obtain a Short Term Food Permit for an event in Minneapolis are the following: 

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  1. How can I help the approval process go quickly and smoothly?
    Vendors can help the approval process by providing their applications and fees to the event food sponsor early, by filling out the application clearly and completely, and by knowing food safety requirements.

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  1. Will my food stand be inspected?
    Food, Lodging and Pools Health Inspectors visit events to inspect for food safety.
    Health Inspectors:
    • Provide education at the event
    • Have vendors make corrections on site
    • Provide written Health Inspection Reports to vendors/sponsors.

    In cases of serious risk to the public’s health, or unapproved food sale or give-away, Health Inspectors will close the food stand at the time of the inspection.

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  1. I own a licensed food truck or food cart – is a Short-Term Food Permit needed?
    Yes, food trucks taking part in an event must be an invited vendor with an approved Short-Term Food Permit or a Seasonal Food Permit.

    Food trucks operating under their own Minneapolis Mobile Food Vehicle Vendor License are not allowed within 500 feet of a block event and 2000 feet of a civic event.

    Contact Business Licensing for more information about where food trucks can sell: 612-673-2080 or http://www.minneapolismn.gov/licensing

    Mobile Food Vehicle Vendor - flyer with map of allowed locations (scroll down to page two) 

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Frequently Asked Questions about Seasonal Food Permits:

  1. What is a Seasonal Food Permit?
    A Seasonal Food Permit is a single permit that can be used throughout the year (April 1 – March 31) at multiple Minneapolis events and markets. The cost is $232.00. When a Seasonal Food Permit is used, only foods and/or beverages which have been approved on the application may be sold or given away.

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  1. How does a Seasonal Food Permit differ from a Short-Term Food Permit?
    1. You only need to apply for a Seasonal Food Permit once per year.
    2. On your Seasonal Permit Application, more information about your equipment, your food labels and your licensed kitchen (if you use one) is required.
    3. Seasonal Permit holders must use NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) or equivalent approved equipment. (No domestic refrigerators are allowed.)
    4. Seasonal Food Permit vendors must ALWAYS use MECHANICAL REFRIGERATION for potentially hazardous foods. No use of ice as a cooling agent is allowed, even at events lasting four hours or less.
    5. The contact information you provide on your application will be available on the Minneapolis Health Department Civic Events Webpage for Event Sponsors to view. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about Requirements:

  1. Why do application materials need to be submitted 10 business days before Event?
    All applications are reviewed by Health Inspectors, who work with staff in other departments to issue permits. Sometimes additional information must be requested, before approval can be given.

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  1. What do the fees cover?
    Event and Short-Term Food Permit fees cover the costs of reviewing applications, providing education and consultation, and inspecting food stands at public events.

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  1. Is a handwashing sink or set-up required?
    If any foods are prepared on site or opened on site, including beverages poured over ice or beverages that are garnished, hand-washing is required. See the Guidelines for selling or giving away food in Minneapolis for a picture of hand-washing set-up options.

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  1. Is mechanical refrigeration required?
    Yes, the Minnesota Food Code requires all refrigerated foods Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF)] to be kept cold under mechanical refrigeration at 41 degrees farhenheit or lower. There is one exception: vendors with Short Term Food Permits at events that last four hours or less may hold their Potentially Hazardous Foods in an insulated cooler with ice. The Potentially Hazardous Food MUST remain at 41F for the vendor to use this exception. 

    Seasonal Food Permit vendors must always use NSF (or equivalent) mechanical refrigeration. 

    Vendors at civic events and community celebrations are NOT allowed to use "Time as a public Health Control" to keep Potentially hazardous Foods out of temperature control for a certain period of time. 

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  1. What if my food is only out at room temperature for a short time?
    Potentially Hazardous Foods must remain at 41F or below. Only a reasonable, working portion should be removed from temperature control at a time to prepare or serve.

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  1. Is overhead protection required?
    If foods are prepared onsite or opened onsite, overhead protection is required. No overhead protection is needed if you are distributing only packaged items, such as bottled beverages or packaged granola bars. 

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  1. Are consumer labels required on my packaged foods?
    If you package food, you may need labels.

    Packaged items behind a counter, which the customer must have handed to them, do not need labels. However, you must have an accurate listing of ingredients available to share with the customer.
     
    Packaged items in front of a counter, which a customer can pick up on their own, must have proper labels.
     
    The labels must include: name of food; name and address of manufacturer; ingredient list in descending order; list of any major allergens ; net weight of the product; and directions to refrigerate – if applicable.

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  1. Where can I learn more about Food Safety?
    Visit:
    Minneapolis Food Safety
    Minnesota Department of Health

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Last updated May 17, 2017

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