Retail Food Facility Safety

Operator Responsibilities

Environmental Health promotes the health and safety of food sold or offered to the public at the retail level. This includes restaurants, bars, markets, delis, schools, mobile food vendors, bed and breakfasts, snack bars, coffee shops, and temporary food facilities.

Operators of these establishments have the responsibility to comply with state Health and Safety Code requirements for safe food handling practices. Environmental Health ensures compliance with these requirements through inspections, review of construction plans, investigation of complaints, and reports of foodborne illness.

Food facilities operators are required to have a permit to operate.

Retail Food Code

The California Legislature adopted changes to the Health and Safety Code by creating the new California Retail Food Code (CalCode) that became effective July 1, 2007. Significant changes include emphasis on management and knowledge of safe food handling in the form of the person in charge and employees knowledge.

Construction or Remodel

Persons proposing to construct or remodel a food facility are required to provide plans and specifications to Environmental Health for review and approval before the local building official issues a permit for construction. We also assist state and federal agencies with food products recalls.


Food products, including bottled, or vended water, manufactured at the wholesale level are overseen by the California Department of Health Services - Food and Drug Branch, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and U.S. Departments of Food and Agriculture, and Food and Drug.


Environmental Health conducts a risk based inspection program, based on the level of food preparation, to verify compliance and education efforts to assist food facility operators with safe food handling practices.

The program emphasizes review and control of the 5 major sources of foodborne illnesses identified by the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which include:

  • Improper food-holding-temperatures
  • Inadequate cooking
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Contaminated equipment
  • Food from unapproved sources