The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5517

July 31, 1979


Regulation of food service establishments


Regulation of food service establishments


'Food service establishment'

A municipality may not regulate the serving of home-prepared products at a meeting or a fund-raiser of a charitable, religious, fraternal, service, civic or other nonprofit organization.

Honorable Edgar L. Fredricks

State Senate

The Capitol Building

Lansing, Michigan 48933

You have requested my opinion regarding whether a nonprofit organization operating a home prepared baked-goods sale or serving home prepared food at its meetings or at a fund-raising event may be required to obtain approval from a local health department.

The Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368; MCLA 333.1101 et seq; MSA 14.15(1101) et seq, provides at Sec. 12904(1) as follows:

'A person shall not operate a food service establishment, temporary food service establishment, or vending machine location in this state without a license issued by the department. This part does not apply to an establishment which complies with section 20132(3), except as provided in that section.' (Emphasis added)

'Food service establishment' is defined in Sec. 12901(1)(a) of the Public Health Code as follows:

"Food service establishment' means a fixed or mobile restaurant, coffee shop, cateteria, short order cafe, luncheonette, grill, tea-room, sandwich shop, soda fountain, tavern, bar, cocktail lounge, nightclub, drive-in, industrial feeding establishment, private organization serving the public, rental hall, catering kitchen, delicatessen, theater, commissary, or similar place in which food or drink is prepared for direct consumption through service on the premises or elsewhere, and any other eating or drinking establishment or operation where food is served or provided for the public. Food service establishment shall not apply to a state or county fair, meat and poultry slaughterhouse or processing plant, soft drink plant, food warehouse, grocery store, bakery, dairy plant, locker plant, canning or preserving plant, brining station, roadside stand, flour mill, fish processor or market, egg breaking plant, motel serving continental breakfasts only, other establishment where food manufacturing, processing, or packing is carried out, or inpatient food service establishment located in a health facility subject to licensure under article 17. Food service establishment also shall not apply to a charitable, religious, fraternal, service, civic, or other nonprofit organization operating a home-prepared baked goods sale or serving home-prepared food in connection with its meetings or as part of a community service or fund-raising event.' (1) (Emphasis added)

Section 12915 of the Public Health Code, supra, also authorizes local regulation of food service establishments or vending machines. The Public Health Code, Sec. 12915, states:

'This part shall not limit the authority of a county, city, village, or township to regulate food service establishments or vending machines. This part shall not relieve the applicant for a license or a licensee from responsibility for securing a local permit or complying with applicable local codes, regulations, or ordinances not in conflict with this part.' (Emphasis added)

Inasmuch as the definition of the term 'food service establishment' does not include nonprofit organizations when serving home-prepared products at a meeting or a fund-raiser, it is my opinion that local authorities may not regulate charitable, religious, fraternal, service, civic, and other nonprofit organizations.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) The definition of 'food service establishment' as it currently appears in section 12901(1)(a) of the Public Health Code has previously appeared as section 1(a) of 1968 PA 269 which was an act providing for the licensing of food service establishments and vending machine locations. The underlined portions of the definition were added by an amendatory act known as the Powell Home-Prepared Food Act, 1978 PA 128. This act, however, was repealed with the enactment of the Public Health Code. It is significant to note, however, that the same Legislature which enacted the Powell Home-Prepared Food Act also enacted the Public Health Code.