University of Maryland Extension


Maryland FAQs

  1. What Maryland agency or department is responsible for food safety?
    Food safety administration includes both food service and food processing.  Food service is serving ready-to-eat food for consumption on premises or take-out.  Food processing is production of food for commercial distribution. Maryland's Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has jurisdiction over food safety in the state.  The agency within DHMH that administers food safety is the Community Health Administration - Office of Food Protection & Consumer Health Services which is composed of is composed of 4 divisions: Division of Food Processing, Division of Facility and Process Review, Division of Milk Control, Division of Community Services, and four administrative program areas: Licenses and Permits, Rating Officers, Legal Counsel, and Support Services.  USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has jurisdiction over all animal slaughter facilities in Maryland.  The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has jurisdiction over eggs.

  2. What Maryland agency or department licenses food businesses?
    DHMH issues food processing licenses. Counties issue food services licenses. A county license may or may not be required for food processing.  Baltimore City, Charles County, and Prince George's County have adopted their own food codes, including the state's food processing regulations, and therefore may license food processing facilities.  County health departments issue food service facility licenses but not food processing licenses (except in the three counties previously mentioned).  USDA FSIS authorizes animal slaughter facilities.  DHMH Office of Milk Control licenses dairies and dairy products.  MDA licenses eggs.  Note that Baltimore County has also adopted its own food code, but it does not include the state's food processing regulations, and therefore Baltimore County does not license food processors.

  3. Does Maryland provide meat and poultry processing inspection services funded under USDA FSIS?
    No, Maryland does not license or inspect animal slaughter facilities.  However Maryland does cooperate and collaborate with USDA FSIS to enforce and comply with federal regulations. 

  4. Does Maryland have a "home rule" policy that allows locales to further restrict food safety regulations?
    Yes, Maryland has 23 counties, plus Baltimore City, for a total of 24 different food safety jurisdictions.  13 counties have adopted home rule.  Home rule counties may have food safety regulations that are more restrictive than state regulations. However most often further restriction of state food safety code by counties applies to food service, not food processing.  Only the state, Baltimore City, Prince George's County, and Charles County have authority to regulate food processing. 

  5. Does Maryland have county level food safety inspection services?
    Yes, County Health Departments inspect food service. Only Prince George's County, Charles County, and Baltimore City inspect and license food processors. There is one regulation for food processing facilities throughout the state. A food processing license issued by the state, Baltimore City, Prince George's County, or Charles County is portable throughout the state. Some counties may further restrict food service.  All counties set their own fees for licenses.

  6. Does Maryland have municipal level food safety inspection services?
    Yes, Baltimore City has a municipal government on a par with the state's county governments, and inspection is done by the Baltimore City Health Department.

  7. Does Maryland license animal slaughter facilities?
    No, USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over animal slaughter facilities and they issue a "grant of inspection", not a license, which is continuous while the operation is in compliance. In other words, if the facility meets federal standards, FSIS will assign an inspector to the facility, and FSIS will provide continuous inspection services to the facility as long as it operates in compliance with federal standards. If FSIS withdraws inspection services for whatever reason, the facility will no longer qualify as federally inspected.

  8. Does Maryland license poultry slaughter facilities?
    No, USDA has jurisdiction over poultry slaughter facilities and they issue a "grant of inspection", not a license.  USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over and issues a grant of inspection for processors of over 20,000 poultry per year.  Under 20,000 slaughtered per year, USDA FSIS has jurisdiction to not sell adulterated poultry but the facilities are exempt from continuous inspection, however they may be inspected quarterly.  Maryland allows the up to 20,000 bird exemption for on-farm processing and sales as specified in the Federal Poultry Act, but Maryland further restricts the Act by not allowing those birds to be sold off farm (DHMH approved source regulations).  However, MDA may soon offer a training program for exempt farmers who want to sell off farm.  Farmers enrolled in this program would be allowed by the state to sell off farm without further inspection.

  9. Does Maryland license mobile processing units (MPUs) for animal slaughter?
    In Maryland, MPUs may be used for processing meat or poultry but MPUs are not licensed.  They are treated as an on-farm facility, and all the same facility licensing requirements apply. 

  10. Does Maryland license custom meat processing facilities?
    No, Maryland has no state meat inspection services.  USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over custom meat processing under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and may inspect facilities quarterly. Custom meat processors are not licensed, they receive an exemption from continuous inspection from FSIS.

  11. Does Maryland license custom poultry processing facilities?
    No, Maryland has no state poultry inspection services.  USDA FSIS has jurisdiction over custom poultry processing under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and may inspect facilities quarterly. Custom poultry processors are not licensed, they receive an exemption from continuous inspection from FSIS.

  12. Does Maryland license sales of raw milk?

  13. Does Maryland license on-farm bottling of milk?
    Yes, 2 dairy farms in Maryland are bottling milk and processing other Grade A dairy products. DHMH Division of Milk Control issues a Milk Processing Plant - Milk Processor license.  Regulations for the Division of Milk Control are specified in the FDA Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. There is no Division of Milk Control at the county level because of the technical expertise required.

  14. Does Maryland license on-farm processing of cheese, butter, and yogurt?
    Yes, DMHM licenses value-added dairy products.  Butter and yogurt require a Grade A Processor license, cheese requires a Manufacturer Grade Processor license, and ice cream requires a Frozen Dessert license.  All dairy products must be produced from pasteurized milk.  However, DHMH has launched a Farmstead Cheese Pilot Study Program for producers who make cheese from raw milk aged at least 60 days.  There are 5 on-farm cheese processors in Maryland.  12 Maryland producers ship milk to Pennsylvania to have Farmstead Cheese produced.  There are 2 on-farm ice cream processors.

  15. Does Maryland license small scale food processing facilities?
    Yes, DHMH licenses food processors. The license is often restricted to processing only certain types of foods based on the facility capacity, equipment, and design.

  16. Does Maryland license home kitchens for food processing?
    No, however, home kitchen operators may process non-potentially hazardous baked goods, jams, and jellies, which may be sold only at farmers markets in the state. 

  17. Does Maryland license on-farm food processing?
    Yes, DHMH issues an On-Farm Home Processing License. In addition to producing non-potentially hazardous baked goods, jams and jellies, fruit pies, honey and herb mixtures, dried fruit and vegetables, farmer operators may process acidified foods. However, to process acidified foods on-farm, FDA training is required (Better Process School), and/or a process authority or person who is trained and certified by FDA, must authorize the recipe and process. Non-potentially hazardous baked goods include baked cakes, muffins, or cookies with a water activity of .85 or less, and fruit pies with an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or less. Food produced under an On-Farm Home Processing License may be sold at any venue in the state. 

  18. Does Maryland license on-farm processing of honey and maple syrup?
    Maple syrup is licensed seasonally by DHMH.  Honey is a raw agricultural product and no license is required unless it is prepared with added ingredients.


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Maryland Regulatory Environment

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services

Maryland Department of Agriculture

Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Maryland Counties

Maryland Local Government

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