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Author: My Chef Guru
Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

Can you sell food without FDA approval? That's the question that many small business owners are asking as they face increased scrutiny from the FDA.

There are food products that you can technically sell without FDA approval. However, you may be subject to legal action if you do not have the proper permit or license. The FDA regulates the sale of food to ensure it is safe for consumption.

Without approval from the FDA, you could be selling food that is contaminated or otherwise unsafe. In this post, I'll look at what is required to sell food legally. Some of the options available to business owners who don't want to deal with the FDA.

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

YES, you can sell food without FDA approval if you have the required permits and licenses. The FDA regulates certain foods considered "high risk," such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. However, many other types of food are not subject to FDA regulation.

You will need to check with your local health department to find out what permits and licenses you need to sell food. Generally, you will need a business license and a permit to operate a food business. You may also need a permit from your state health department if you plan to sell certain types of high-risk foods.

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

What Is FDA Approval and Why Do You Need It To Sell Food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a government agency in the United States responsible for protecting public health by regulating food, drugs, cosmetics, tobacco products, and biologics. Any company that wants to sell food or drugs in the United States must first receive approval from the FDA. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.  If you want to sell food, you need to get FDA approval first. Here's why:

You'll need to obtain a permit from the FDA to manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States. This also applies to food imported from other countries.

The FDA is responsible for ensuring that all food sold in the US is safe to eat. This includes providing food free from harmful bacteria, toxins, and other contaminants.

The FDA requires that all packaged foods have nutrition labels that list the amounts of various nutrients (such as calories, fat, and sodium) in the product. This information helps consumers make healthy choices about what they eat.

It is illegal to sell any food that has been adulterated - that is, mixed with other substances that make it impure or dangerous to consume. The FDA works to prevent adulteration by setting standards for food manufacturers and conducting inspections of facilities where food is produced.

If a food product is found unsafe, the FDA can issue a recall order requiring manufacturers to pull the product from store shelves and correct the problem. This protects consumers from exposure to potentially harmful foods.

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

It is illegal to sell any misbranded food - that is, labeled in a way that is false or misleading about the product's contents or quality. The FDA monitors the labeling of foods to make sure that consumers are not being misled about what they're buying.

The FDA regulates the use of additives in foods, setting standards for their safety and approving their use in specific products. Additives are substances added to food during processing that improve its taste, texture, or shelf life.

Some foods are treated with pesticides during growing or processing in order to protect them from pests such as insects and fungi. The FDA sets safety standards for the use of pesticides in foods and monitors compliance with these standards by industry members.

If you want to export food products from the US, you will need certification from the FDA verifying that your products meet US safety requirements. Many foreign governments require this certification before allowing imported foods into their countries.

What Are The 4 Phases of FDA Approval?

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

The four phases of FDA approval are Permit, Pre- Clinical, Clinical, and Post-Marketing. Each phase has specific requirements that must be met for a product to advance to the next stage.

  • Permit Phase: To conduct testing on humans, sponsors must obtain an Investigational New Drug (IND) permit from the FDA. This allows them to ship the investigational product across state lines and begin testing.

  • Pre-Clinical Phase: During this phase, studies are conducted on animal models to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the investigational product. These studies must be completed before any testing can be done on humans.
  • Clinical Phase: The clinical phase is divided into phases: Phase I, II, and III. In Phase I, a small group of healthy volunteers is given the investigational product to determine its safety. In Phase II, the investigational product is given to patients to see if it effectively treats the disease or condition. In Phase III, the investigational product is given to large groups of patients to confirm its efficacy and safety.
  • Post-Marketing Phase: Even after a product has been approved by the FDA, studies may continue to be conducted. These studies are essential for monitoring the long-term safety and effectiveness of the product.
What Products Require FDA Approval?

Products that require FDA approval include drugs, medical devices, food additives, and dietary supplements. The FDA also oversees cosmetics, tobacco products, and radiation-emitting electronic products. 

For a company to sell a product in the US, it must either obtain a permit or license from the FDA or demonstrate that the product is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).

The FDA also oversees the manufacturing process of these products to ensure that they are produced by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

In addition, they monitor advertising and labeling to ensure that consumers are not misled about the benefits or risks associated with a product. Finally, the FDA also guides proper usage and potential side effects.

The Risks Associated With Selling Food Without FDA Approval

Permits and Licensing: Can You Sell Food Without FDA Approval?

There are a number of risks associated with selling food without FDA approval. One of the most severe risks is that you could be subject to legal action if someone becomes ill after consuming your food product. Additionally, you could also be fined or even jailed if you are found to violate FDA regulations.

Another risk is that your food product may not meet safety standards set by the FDA. This could lead to recalls or other problems down the line. Finally, selling food without FDA approval can damage your reputation and make it difficult to sell your products in the future.

Overall, it is hazardous to sell food without FDA approval. If you are considering doing so, you should weigh the risks carefully before making a decision.


It is possible to sell food without FDA approval, but many risks are associated with doing so. If you decide to go this route, it is vital to be aware of the dangers and take steps to mitigate them. 

Selling food without FDA approval can be a risky proposition, but it is not impossible. By taking precautions and being aware of the dangers, you can increase your chances of success. You can always reach out to us for more insights.

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