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Guide Starting a wholesale food business

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Food Protection Program has prepared this guide to help you comply with Massachusetts and federal requirements in order to start a wholesale food business. A wholesale food business sells products to other businesses, it does not sell products directly to the consumer.

Table of Contents

About the Food Protection Program

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Food Protection Program regulates and inspects all wholesale food businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

These businesses include:

  • Milk Pasteurization
  • Dairy Products, e.g., cheese and ice cream
  • Seafood (including seafood transport)
  • Food Processing (including meat and poultry)
  • Food Warehouses
  • Food Distribution Centers
  • Wholesale Residential Kitchens
  • Bottled Water
  • Carbonated Beverages


As a wholesale food business, you must comply with the regulations in 105 CMR 500.000: Good Manufacturing Practices for Food (downloadable below).

Additional Massachusetts Regulations for food establishments are posted on the Food Protection Program regulations page.

You may buy official copies of the regulations at the following State Bookstores:

  • Massachusetts State House
    State Book Store
    Room 116
    Boston, Massachusetts
    (617) 727-2834
  • Western Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
    436 Dwight St.
    Springfield, MA
    (413) 784-1376
  • Southeast District Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
    218 South Main St.
    Suite 206
    Fall River, MA
    (508) 646-1374

For assistance about regulations, licensure, and inspection of a wholesale food business, please contact the Food Protection Program.

Additional Resources for Regulations


All packaged foods cold by a wholesale food business must be labeled in accordance with Massachusetts and federal labeling regulations. The Massachusetts regulation is 105 CMR 500.006.

The Massachusetts Food Protection Program has prepared a guide to help you develop a food label that complies with Massachusetts and federal labeling requirements. Please see the brochure below.

Please note that this brochure is only a guide. Regulations, licensing requirements, inspection standards and labeling requirements are subject to amendment. It is your responsibility as a licensee to know and abide by all current regulations, licensing requirements, inspection standards, and labeling requirements. Always consult official local, state and federal regulatory agencies to ensure your business is in full compliance.

Additional Resources for Labeling

Apply for initial licensure for food processing and/or distribution at wholesale

$300 application fee per site or activity

To apply for an initial license:

  • Complete the entire two-page application form below
  • Submit a separate application for each facility or activity to be licensed
  • Attach a separate check for $300.00 for each license application, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

By mail

Mail the fee payment(s) and all required materials to:

Department of Public Health
Food Protection Program
305 South St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-3597

Additional Resources for Apply for initial licensure for food processing and/or distribution at wholesale

Resource information on starting a wholesale food business

New England Food Entrepreneurs
This website is designed to help you start, maintain, or expand a food business.

Massachusetts Nutrient Data Bank
Assists businesses with nutritional labeling information to meet the requirements of the federal nutrition labeling regulations.