Starting Your Food Business Checklist

What type of food business are you starting?

This post describes the options and how they are regulated in Fond du Lac County and the State of Wisconsin. Study the rules about the kind of business you want.

Have you studied food business safety rules?

This detailed publication (PDF, 734KB) discusses the kinds of things food business owners need to understand and prepare for in order to prevent illness. The specific guidelines you are asked about and the permitting of your business will depend on:

  • the ingredients you use (ex: meat, dairy, fruit, pre-packaged items)
  • type of processing (ex: cutting, frying, steaming, etc.)
  • the location or venue where you will prepare it (ex: food truck, restaurant, etc.)
  • the time between when you prepare it and serve it to customers (ex: eat immediately, transport for catering)
  • how long you will be operating (ex: temporarily during the fair or year round)

Does someone on your team have a current Food Manager Certificate?

The training can be done from any of these programs accepted in the State of Wisconsin. Some are online and some are in person. The certified food manager in the business is responsible for ensuring that food safety rules are followed in the kitchen.

Do you have a legal business entity created?

Filing for an LLC in the State of Wisconsin takes about two weeks to process. It is OK to use your home address on the paperwork if needed. The cost is reduced if you are a full-time student.

Does your business have a federal tax ID number?

In order to file taxes on your earnings, and even if you don’t have employees, you will need an Employer Identification Number (Employer Identification Number, IRS) from the Internal Revenue Service. Apply Here (How to Apply for an EIN, IRS website).

Do you have a seller's permit?

You will need the EIN to get your seller’s permit in Wisconsin (Department of Revenue, “Sales & Use Tax Permits.” It is recommended to do this at least three weeks before you plan to start selling anything. The application asks for the owner’s social security number if the business is operated as a sole proprietorship rather than an LLC. If you have an LLC, the business is the legal “owner” of the permit. Seller’s Permit Application (PDF, 239KB) or submit it online.

Special Considerations for Temporary Food Stands

These publications give more detail. With any questions, contact Danielle and Mayra at the Fond du Lac County Health Department. They prefer to talk with you before inspections and are a great source of help when the rules are confusing.

Special Considerations for Mobile Food Establishments

These publications give more detail about pushcarts, food trucks, and food trailers. With any questions, contact Danielle and Mayra at the Fond du Lac County Health Department. They prefer to talk with you before inspections and are a great source of help when the rules are confusing.

Mobile Food Establishment Guidelines from DATCP (PDF, 706KB)

Special Considerations for Restaurants

These publications give more detail. With any questions, contact Danielle and Mayra at the Fond du Lac County Health Department. They prefer to talk with you before inspections and are a great source of help when the rules are confusing.

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