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Oregon Department of Agriculture
Frequently Asked Questions
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Are shellfish safe to harvest and eat?
ODA monitors mussels, clams and oysters for paralytic shellfish toxin and domoic acid, two marine toxins that can affect shellfish. ODA might close or open recreational beaches based on these test results. ODA cannot test for all the other substances that could be harmful if eaten, so use your best judgment and only harvest from beaches that are sanitary.
Are there any current recreational shellfish closures?
Each time before you harvest mussels or clams, call the 24-hour shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or check our website.
How do I file a food safety complaint?
For facilities licensed by Oregon Department of Agriculture (grocery stores, meat markets, warehouses, bakery, food processing plant or dairy), please visit our concerns and complaints webpage. If you have complaints about a restaurant or a food cart, contact your local health department.
How do I know whether the shellfish I'm buying for my store or restaurant are from licensed sellers?
Retail stores and restaurants must obtain shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and whole scallops) only from certified (licensed) shellfish dealers. A list of licensed dealers is available on our website.
How do I obtain a food handler's card?
Local environmental health departments issue food handler cards. Food handler cards are required if you work at an establishment licensed by the local health department. If you work at an establishment licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture you are not required to have a food handler's card, but it is recommended.
How do I obtain a letter for food stamps?
If you want your retail store to accept food stamps through the federal program called SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), you will need to contact this USDA program at 877-823-4369. SNAP no longer accepts letters from the Food Safety Program, rather they need to see the firm's retail license.
How do I obtain organic certification?
The United States Department of Agriculture regulates organic certification of farms, wild crop harvesting, and handling operations that sell agricultural products as organically produced. A certifying agent accredited by the USDA must certify farms or handling operations.
How do I prevent foodborne illness?
There are several ways to minimize your risk of foodborne illness: wash your hands; wash fruits and vegetables before eating; store all produce in the refrigerator; avoid cross contamination from raw meats to ready-to-eat foods, such as fruit, salads or cooked foods, by using clean cutting boards for each, separate plates and separate knives; store fresh produce in a separate drawer in your refrigerator, away from raw meats.
How do I report a possible foodborne illness?
To report a suspected foodborne illness, contact your local environmental health department.
How do I start a business in Oregon as a small processor or producer?
ODA has specialists who can help small producers or processors. Contact the Salem office at 503-986-4720 for more information.
How do I start a business under the Farm Direct Bill?
ODA has a specialist who can help producers or processors with questions about the Farm Direct Bill. Contact Sarah Schwab at 503-508-6028.
How often are shellfish tested?
ODA tests shellfish for paralytic shellfish toxin and domoic acid from several key sites along the entire coastline. ODA tests at least twice per month during the colder months, and weekly during the warmer months.
If I sell shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, and whole scallops) at my store or serve them at my restaurant, am I required to keep the tags?
Yes. Every store and restaurant is required to keep shellfish tags for 90 days in the event of a recall. Use a record keeping system to track dates shellstock were served or sold, and for shucked shellfish you must track the shellfish company name, lot number, and dates the shucked shellfish were served or sold. An invoice will not work for recalls because it does not contain enough information to trace back the shellfish to where they were harvested and which company harvested them.
Is a license required to harvest shellfish and sell them for human consumption?
Yes. An ODA license is required for commercial shellfish harvesting.
Is crab safe when there is a biotoxin closure?
Crab are not filter feeders and do not concentrate the toxins in the tissue or meats. There may be toxins in the viscera (guts) if the toxin levels are high. ODA does monitor crab viscera during toxin closures and will issue warnings when needed.
What are the domestic kitchen licensing procedures?
Review the kitchen licensing webpage and visit the Find My Local Food Inspector page to get the name of the inspector assigned to your ZIP code.
What are the farmers' markets vendor license requirements?
Each farmers market operates under its own set of rules. For more information please contact the farmer's market in your area.
What are the honey extractor license requirements?
If you extract only your honey, and sell only directly to the consumer, you are exempt from ODA licensing under the Farm Direct Bill. If you have 20 or fewer colonies and extract only their honey, and you sell either direct to the consumer or wholesale, you are considered a hobbyist and are exempt from licensing, but you must submit an application for exemption to the ODA. Any beekeeper, with 21 or more colonies, extracting and selling wholesale honey is required to be licensed as a food processor.
What are the labeling requirements for packaged foods?
Food that is packaged for retail sale must be properly labeled.
What are the laws regulating animals in food establishments?
Oregon laws comply with laws established under the Americans with Disabilities Act. OAR 603-025-0020 states service animals are permitted in areas usually open to the public, such as retail food stores and dining areas. Animals are not permitted in areas where food processing or food preparation is occurring.
What are the plan review requirements?
Plans for establishments regulated under the Food Code must be submitted to ODA for review and approval before the start of construction or remodeling.
What are the produce stand license requirements?
Oregon Administrative Rule 603-025 states that retail vegetable and fruit stands are required to be licensed, except when the produce stand is on the farmer's own property, only fruits and vegetables grown by the owner are sold, and no food processing is done.
What is required for potlucks, barbeques or mobile food sales?
Any establishment operating in connection with any event where food is prepared and served to the public for consumption, whether for sale or free of charge, is required to have a license. A temporary restaurant license is required for events such as fundraisers, events advertised to the public, fairs, carnivals, concerts, festivals, etc. Any homemade food offered at such events to the public must be prepared in a kitchen inspected by the local health department.
Are all food workers required to have food handler cards?
Food workers at ODA licensed establishments are not required to have food handler cards; however, it is recommended.
Are animals allowed in stores?
Only service animals are allowed in stores.
Can food be sold past expiration dates?
Pull dates (expiration dates) are used for perishable foods and should ensure the consumer has adequate time to allow for normal consumption at home.
Can I consume a food past the expiration date?
Many foods can be eaten past their expiration dates as long as they have been properly stored.
Do workers that touch my food have to wear gloves?
Oregon law does not require workers to wear gloves, but does require that ready-to-eat foods be prepared and served without bare hand contact. Wearing gloves is one acceptable method to prevent bare hand contact.
How long can I keep eggs?
Eggs are required to have “use by” or “sell by” dates, which usually are found on the bottom of the carton. The "sell by" date is 30 days and the "use by" date is 45 days after production.
How long can I keep food in the freezer?
Frozen food storage life is about food quality rather than food safety. Keep your freezer at 0°F to slow deterioration. Freezing does not kill bacteria.
How long is my food good after my refrigerator or freezer has lost power?
If you keep the refrigerator or freezer doors closed, the refrigerator will keep food cold about four hours, and the freezer will keep food cold 24 to 48 hours depending on how full it is.
I have a swollen or dented can; what does this mean?
You should suspect contamination if the can is leaking, bulging or swollen, looks damaged or cracked, or seems abnormal. Do not use if it spurts liquid or foam, or if the food is discolored, moldy, or smells bad.
I left food out without refrigeration overnight. Can I still eat it?
Two hours is the maximum time perishable food should be at room temperature, including the time spent on the dinner table.
Should I buy meat that has turned brown?
Color changes might not mean the meat is spoiled, but if it has an off-odor, or is sticky, tacky, or slimy to the touch, it could be spoiled.
What is a service animal?
A service animal is limited to a dog trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability.
What is gluten and how do I avoid it?
Gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, triticale, barley, rye and oats. To avoid it, read the ingredients on the labels of foods you buy and make sure servers at restaurants know you want a gluten-free meal.
What is the difference between organic and conventionally grown foods?
Organic-labeled food means the food has been produced without certain kinds of fertilizers and pesticides; certain synthetic additives; or artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
Are there labeling requirements under the Farm Direct Rules?
Yes, all state and federal labeling requirements apply: list of ingredients, net weight, name and address of the agricultural producer. Additionally, products must be labeled with “THIS PRODUCT IS HOMEMADE AND IS NOT PREPARED IN AN INSPECTED FOOD ESTABLISHMENT” and “NOT FOR RESALE”. Some products have additional labeling requirements. * This wording does not pertain to honey extractors with 20 or fewer hives.
Can fruits or vegetables be frozen or freeze dried and sold under the Farm Direct Bill?
No, that is considered processing.
Can I direct-market grains and legumes that I have grown under the Farm Direct Rules?
Agricultural producers can grow and process for farm direct sale whole, hulled, crushed or ground grains, legumes and seeds, plus parched or roasted grains—if of a type customarily cooked before eating. These products must be labeled.
Can I dry what I grow if I want to sell it without a license?
Yes. Farm Direct Marketing Rules allow agricultural producers to sell fruits, vegetables and herbs they have grown, harvested and dried, without a license. A license is not required to sell nuts grown, harvested, cured or dried, and cracked by agricultural producers.
Can I make preserves in jars and sell them without a license?
If you grow the principal ingredients yourself, the Farm Direct Marketing Rules exempt shelf-stable products, including syrups, jams, preserves, jellies, and canned fruit, from ODA licensing. In some cases pickles, chutneys, relishes, sauerkraut, and some salsas may be sold under this exemption.
Can I purchase and use garlic, onion, or celery in my Farm Direct product?
No. Garlic, onion and celery do not meet the definition of a "spice." You must grow it yourself.
Can I sell canned foods other than acidic foods under the Farm Direct Rules?
No. Canned goods must have a pH below 4.6. Canned foods with a pH higher than 4.6 (such as peppers, green beans and corn) pose a substantial risk of botulism and other food safety concerns, and must be processed by a licensed and inspected processor.
Can I sell items under consignment under the Farm Direct Rules?
Consignment means selling products for another agricultural producer from the same county, or an adjoining county. Products must be represented as being from the original producer and must be properly labeled. Consignment is limited to fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, unshelled nuts, honey, and dried products such as garlic or potatoes, where drying or curing is routine post-harvest processing. Eggs have additional rules.
Do I need to maintain production records for products produced under the Farm Direct Marketing Bill?
Records for acidified foods must use a recognized process and include finished product batch testing for pH, and pH meter calibration records. Farm Direct marketers must keep processing, production, deviation and sales records. Records must be maintained three years and be made available to the ODA upon request.
How do the Farm Direct Rules affect the organizations that run farmers markets?
Organizations that manage a group of farm direct marketers and their spaces are not required to be licensed, unless they are selling food not included in the Farm Direct Rule exemption.
How do the Farm Direct Rules affect the sale of eggs?
Producers selling only to retail customers do not need a Food Safety Program license, regardless of the number of eggs sold. Labeling requirements apply regardless of number of eggs sold. If you sell eggs under consignment there are additional rules.
Under the Farm Direct Bill, how will I know if my canned products are safe?
Agricultural producers must ensure all canned products have a finished pH at or below 4.6. If the pH is below 4.6 and the product has been heat-treated it is generally considered to be safe. Producers must monitor and record the pH of each batch. Acidified foods must be processed using a recognized process and product formulation.
What do the Farm Direct Rules mean by acidic food?
An acidic food is a bottled, packaged, or canned food that either has a natural equilibrium pH of 4.6 or less, has been lacto-fermented to decrease the equilibrium pH to 4.6 or below, or has a water activity greater than 0.85 and has been acidified to decrease the equilibrium pH to 4.6 or below.
What ingredients can I purchase (not grow) in producing products under the Farm Direct Marketing Bill?
You must grow the principal ingredients, such as strawberries for strawberry jam, and you must make the product (such as jam) yourself. No commingling of principle ingredients is allowed. Only the following ingredients may be purchased to add to your products: herbs, spices, salt, vinegar, pectin, lemon or lime juice, honey and sugar.
What is the gross annual sales limitation under the Farm Direct Bill?
There is a $20,000 sales limit on producer processed acidic products under the Farm Direct Bill. If you exceed this you must either get licensed or transfer production to a licensed co-processor. The $20,000 is calculated by adding together all the gross sales of all acidic products for the calendar year.
What non-meat farm products can an agricultural producer (farmer) sell without being licensed?
Fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes and seeds, eggs and honey. Under certain conditions pickles, sauerkraut, preserves, jams, jellies and syrups may be included.
What types of products can be processed at the market under the Farm Direct Rules?
If you grow it, you can roast your own peppers, nuts, and corn on the cob and pop your own corn at the farmers' markets, as long as these items are not sold for immediate consumption. If you want to sell for immediate consumption, you must contact your local public health authority.
When did the Farm Direct law go into effect?
Jan. 1, 2012. Oregon Department of Agriculture has developed the Farm Direct Marketing Rules under OAR 603-025-0215 though 0275.
Am I required to construct a poultry processing building under the Poultry Bill?
If you sell poultry away from the farm, then you must provide a poultry processing building. If you have on-farm sales only (the customer comes to your farm to purchase), then you do not need a poultry processing building, but can use other means to 'reasonably protect the poultry.'
Are firms processing under the Poultry Bill inspected by the Oregon Department of Agriculture?
Firms operating under the Poultry Bill are not routinely inspected by ODA. However, at the Department's discretion, ODA can conduct unscheduled inspections of the facility and its records. Failure to conduct activities in accordance with the Poultry Bill will make a person or poultry business subject to the licensing requirements of ORS 603.025 and 616.706, including all applicable regulations and penalties.
Are there labeling requirements under the Poultry Bill?
Yes, any poultry processed under the Poultry Bill must meet standard labeling requirements outlined in ORS 616.325, plus a statement "This product may not leave the state of Oregon."
Can I cut up, grind or further process the poultry under the Poultry Bill?
No, poultry must be sold as a whole carcass.
Can I freeze poultry after slaughter to hold for a customer under the Poultry Bill?
Can I purchase live poultry to process under the Poultry Bill?
No, the person performing the slaughter must raise the poultry from two weeks of age or younger.
Can poultry processed under the Poultry Bill be sold to restaurants or institutions?
No, poultry must be sold directly to the end consumer.
Can poultry under the Poultry Bill enter interstate commerce?
No, poultry processed under the Poultry Bill may not enter interstate commerce. This includes selling poultry to out-of-state residents who intend to return to their state with the poultry.
Do I have to keep records under the Poultry Bill?
Yes, you must maintain clear and understandable records. The records must include who raised the poultry; the year-to-date cumulative total of each species, and total quantity of all species, slaughtered; dates of slaughter; species, quantity and dates of sale; business address; sanitation logs for cleaning and chemical use; etc. Records must be made available for ODA inspection on request.
Do I need to comply with waste disposal requirements under the Poultry Bill?
Yes, as much as 20 tons of slaughter and processing waste can be composted on-site annually, as long as it does not adversely affect surface or ground water, without a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit. Or, you can dispose of waste at permitted landfills or into sanitary sewer systems without a DEQ permit.
How many poultry can be processed under the Poultry Bill?
No more than 1,000 per year of all species combined.
What does House Bill 2872, the Poultry Bill, do?
The Poultry Bill creates an exemption from ODA food establishment licensing requirements for a person who raises and slaughters no more than 1,000 poultry per year, and meets other conditions.
What species of poultry can be processed under the Poultry Bill?
Domesticated species including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or guinea fowl. Poultry does not include ratites, endangered or protected species, wild game birds or pet birds.
When did the Poultry Bill go into effect?
Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the Poultry Bill in May 2011.
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