Starting a Food Manufacturing Business in Tennessee

Whenever a food establishment is constructed, remodeled or whenever an existing structure is converted to use as a food establishment, plans and specifications must be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), Consumer & Industry Services, prior to the start of construction, remodeling or conversion.  Construction of the food establishment cannot begin until TDA has completed their review and given their approval. 

What is required of new manufacturers within the State of Tennessee?

  • All manufacturers are required to obtain a license in accordance with Tennessee Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and Chapter 0080-04-13.

Where do I get the license to manufacture within the State of Tennessee?

  • Licenses may be obtained through the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Consumer & Industry Services.

How do I start the licensing process?

What do I need to submit to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as a new manufacturer?

  • A completed Food Establishment Manufacturer / Warehouse Plan Review Questionnaire.
  • Proof of the manufacturer’s registration with the Tennessee Department of Revenue or business license issued by a local governmental authority.
  • A copy of water approval from local environmental field office or TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation if water is anything other than from an approved municipal source.
  • Flow diagrams of your proposed processes.
  • Proposed plans of the food manufacturing facility drawn to scale showing the location of equipment, sinks, drains, plumbing, and electrical.
  • All labels for proposed products manufactured or packaged.

Where do I submit these plans?

  • Plans, completed forms and supplemental documentation can be emailed to newfood.business@tn.gov; or
  • Faxed to (615) 837-5005; or
  • Couriered, dropped off or mailed to:

Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Consumer & Industry Services
436 Hogan Road
Nashville, TN 37220

What is the typical timeline for the review of this process?

Generally, plans submitted are reviewed within two (2) weeks of receipt, as long as all of the information has been provided.  If additional information or corrections are necessary, a letter will be sent out to the manufacturer alerting them to whatever actions are needed to move forward. 

What happens after the plans have been approved?

Once the plans have been approved, a letter of approval will be sent out to notify the facility.  Permit approval is contingent upon actual facility inspection.  Upon completion of construction, the facility is to contact the State at (615) 837-5193 to arrange for an inspection.  Typically, an Inspector will contact the facility within a week or two of the State’s notification to schedule the plant inspection. 

How do I arrange for an inspection once construction is complete?

Contact TDA at (615) 837-5193 to arrange for an inspection.

How are the licensing fees for this process determined?

License fees are determined by the size of the manufacturer’s facility and the degree of risk the manufacturer poses for outbreak of food borne illness.  An establishment greater than 10,000 square feet must obtain a Large Facility license.  An establishment equal to or smaller 10,000 square feet must obtain a Small Facility license.  Tier determination is made by the department.  It is based on the nature of the product and operation that defines the manufacturer’s risk of a food borne illness outbreak. 

How much will this licensing process cost me?

  1. Food Manufacturer License, Large Facility – Risk Level 1:  Tier 11 License Fee - $750.00
  2. Food Manufacturer License, Small Facility – Risk Level 1:  Tier 10 License Fee - $500.00
  3. Food Manufacturer License, Large Facility – Risk Level 2:  Tier 7 License Fee - $300.00
  4. Food Manufacturer License, Small Facility – Risk Level 2:  Tier 5 License Fee - $200.00
  5. Food Manufacturer License, Large Facility – Risk Level 3:  Tier 3 License Fee - $100.00
  6. Food Manufacturer License, Small Facility – Risk Level 3:  Tier 2 License Fee - $50.00

When can I anticipate an invoice to be sent?

Upon completion of the inspection, an invoice will be sent to the facility.

When is payment due, and can I pay for the license by credit card?

Payment is due once the plan, application and inspection has been approved.  Notification from the inspector to the office will generate the invoicing process to happen.  Yes, you can pay by credit card by calling (615) 837-5193 or by mailing a check to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture referencing the name of the business and address for which the license will be issued to.

When will the actual license be sent out?

Upon receipt of the payment of the invoice, a license will be printed and sent to the facility.

What happens if things change at this facility from the submitted process?

Any changes to the information or contents of an application are to be submitted in writing to this department within 30 days after the changes take place.

How often do I have to renew my license?

Renewal is done annually and licenses expire June 30 of each year. Invoices are automatically generated.

Are late fees assessed on theses invoices?

If an applicant for renewal fails to remit payment of the license fee on or before July 15th of the licensure year, they are required to pay a late charge of an additional 50% of the permit fee prior to renewal of the applicant’s license.

When is a Food Warehouse license required?

Any warehouse or establishment in the State of Tennessee where food is held for introduction into commerce is required to be licensed.

As a manufacturer, am I required to obtain a license for my warehouse as well?

A food warehouse license is not required for any establishment licensed as a food manufacturer at the same location, unless there is distribution of additional products other than what the manufacturer produces.

How are food warehouse license fees determined?

Fees are based on the nature of the warehouse’s operations and the degree of risk the warehouse poses for outbreak of food borne illness.

How much does a license as a food warehouse cost? 

  • Temperature Controlled Warehouse - $300.00
  • Dry Warehouse - $100.00