skip to main content

Public Health - Seattle & King County

Food operations that do not need permits

Foods exempt from the food code and not considered as a food service establishment

Some types of food service operations that are regulated by other agencies or that present minimal risk to causing foodborne illness do not need to obtain a permit. Even so, it is important to follow safe food handling practices like washing your hands and storing the food in a safe place.

  • An establishment that offers only food that is not potentially hazardous food prepackaged in a licensed food establishment or food processing plant

  • An establishment that offers only minimally cut, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs that are not potentially hazardous food or ready-to-eat food

  • A food processing plant, cottage food operation, or other establishment for activities regulated by the Washington State Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Agriculture

  • An establishment that offers only ready-to-eat food that is not potentially hazardous food produced in a licensed food establishment or food processing plant (such as premixed soda pop, powdered creamer, pretzels, cookies, doughnuts, cake, or meat jerky) that are served without direct hand contact, with limited portioning, directly onto or into sanitary single-use articles or single-service articles from the original package

  • An establishment that offers only hot beverages (such as coffee, hot tea, or hot apple cider) that are not potentially hazardous food served directly into sanitary single-service articles

  • An establishment that offers only dry foods that are not ready-to-eat foods (such as dry beans, dry grains, in-shell nuts, coffee beans, tea leaves, or herbs for tea) and that are not potentially hazardous foods

  • An establishment that offers only prepackaged frozen confections produced in a licensed food establishment or food processing plant

  • A residential kitchen in a private home or other location, if only baked goods that are not potentially hazardous food are prepared and wrapped in a sanitary manner for sale or service by a nonprofit organization operating for religious, charitable, or educational purposes and if the consumer is informed by a clearly visible placard at the sales or service location that the foods are prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected by a regulatory authority

  • A location where foods that are prepared as noted above and are sold or offered for human consumption

  • A hotel/motel or other similar business that maintains an ice dispensing machine for self-service use by guests and the ice is not used by a food establishment

  • A kitchen in a private home operated as a family day care provider as defined in RCW 43.215.010 (1)(c) or an adult family home as defined in RCW 70.128.010, used only to prepare food for residents and other people for whom the operation is licensed to provide care

  • A private home that receives catered or home-delivered food

  • A private home or other location used for a private event

  • A donor kitchen

  • A location used for a potluck
List of food exempt from permit and plan review
  • Popcorn (including kettle corn)
  • Cotton candy
  • Herbs and spices (if processed in an approved facility)
  • Machine crushed ice drinks (premix is frozen and dispensed completely within a self-enclosed machine; such as icees, slushies or slurpies)
  • Corn on the cob (prepared for immediate service with butter, shake on spices or commercial mayonnaise in squeeze bottle only)
  • Whole roasted peppers (if roasted for immediate service)
  • Roasted nuts, roasted peanuts (including candy-coated)
  • Fruits and vegetables for sampling (if used for individual samples of nonpotentially hazardous produce)
Bake sales

Nonprofit organizations may offer homemade, nonpotentially hazardous baked items for religious, charitable, or educational purposes; provided that the baked items are prepared and wrapped in a sanitary manner and the consumer is informed by a clearly visible placard at the sales or service location that the foods are prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected by a regulatory authority. Acceptable bake sale items include cookies, muffins, double crust fruit pies and bread. Foods such as pumpkin pie, custards, and whipped cream toppings are not allowed.