A Food Service Facility License is required of any business that prepares food or drink for sale or service, or any operation where food is served or provided for the public with or without charge. The license is important because it ensures that inspections are conducted to help control the contamination of food by microorganisms and other food adulteration. Examples of businesses that may need a Food Service Facility License include restaurants, grocery stores, bars, taverns, clubs, caterers, church kitchens, service organizations, and others.
There are exceptions to the license. For example, a kitchen in a private home where food is prepared for guests or for service to unemployed, homeless, or any other disadvantaged population is not a Food Service Facility and does not need a license. Also, certain non-profit organizations can choose not to be licensed and are therefore excluded organizations. Excluded organizations are volunteer fire companies or nonprofit fraternal, civic, war veteran, religious, or charitable organizations that do not serve food to the public more often than four days per week except that once a year, an organization may serve food to the public for up to 14 consecutive days.
The definition of non-potentially hazardous food may be found in COMAR 10.15.03. Potentially hazardous food is a food or food ingredient that supports the rapid growth of infectious or toxic microorganisms or botulinum bacteria, or produces pathogenic toxins. Potentially hazardous food also includes foods of animal origin which are raw or have been heat-treated, or are of plant origin and have been heat-treated or are raw seed sprouts.