Denver Restaurant & Food Establishment Inspections

Denver is the host to approximately 5,000 food businesses. These businesses include restaurants, bars, convenience stores, bakeries, dairies, grocery stores, and much more.The Food Safety Program is designed to reduce the incidence of food-borne disease, commonly called food poisoning, through inspection of food businesses, education of those working with food, investigation of complaints, enforcement of regulations that affect the safety of food, and education of consumers about food safety.

View a short video about safe food handling practices at home or


Restaurant & Food Establishment Compliance Requirements

Learn more about compliance requirements for temporary retail food establishments, mobile food operations, caterers, food peddlers, marijuana food operations, and a plan review for new or remodeled food facilities.

Full service restaurants are inspected at a minimum of twice per year, most delis and fast food restaurants are inspected at minimum of once annually, and facilities with very limited food like bars and convenience stores are inspected at least once every 18 months.  Facilities receive additional regulatory visits when reinspections are required or complaint investigations are conducted.  For information about applying for a variance to the regulations, view the Board of Environmental Health's rules here.

City and County of Denver Retail Food Establishment Regulations (PDF)
Denver Revised Municipal Code, Chapter 23
Inspection Violation Correction Form (PDF)
FDA Food Labeling Guide (PDF)

All food businesses must maintain a current Denver Business and Professional license through the Department of Excise and Licenses. The Department of Excise and Licenses can help determine which license is appropriate for your food business.

For more specific questions, please contact us at 720-913-1311 or 311 in the Denver Metro area. You may also contact the department at phicomments@denvergov.org

Fine Schedule for Carts and Mobile Units.pdfEnforcement tools used by the Public Health Inspection Division to achieve compliance include civil penalties, court summonses, disposal of food, retention of equipment, and closure of facilities when an imminent health hazard exists.  To pay civil penalties online, go to denvergov.org/deh/paycitation.

Civil Penalties - Fine Schedule (PDF)
Fine Schedule - Food Trucks & Food Carts (PDF)
Enforcement Progression for Food Facilities (PDF)

Food peddlers travel to different locations and sell pre-packaged hot or cold foods, such as burritos, that have been prepared in a licensed, inspected kitchen.

Peddler Licensing Requirements (PDF)
Affidavit of Commissary (PDF)
Commissary List (PDF)

The Public Health Inspections Division of the Denver Department of Environmental Health regulates all foods, including marijuana-infused foods and precursor extractions, under the Denver Food Establishment Rules and Regulations to protect the health of consumers.

Public Health Inspections advises that any concentrated extract from marijuana plant material (such as hash, hash oil, wax, budder, bubble hash) and any infusion of marijuana extracted concentrate (oil, butter, glycerine/glycerol, frosting, tincture) when intended to be ingested by non-smoking oral consumption (i.e. eating) are considered a potentially hazardous food.  As such they must be stored at refrigerated temperatures (41 F or less) until consumption (see §3-401 of the Denver Food Establishment Regulations) unless otherwise approved by the Department.  These extractions have the potential to grow Clostridium botulinum bacteria and form a harmful toxin that can cause severe illness if eaten.  The spores of this bacteria are present in all plant material and are also present in any derivatives such as infused tinctures and oils.  When intended for non-smoking oral consumption (i.e. eating), only marijuana extractions infused in 100% alcohol are safe to store at room temperature without further laboratory testing and approval by the Department. 

Extractions which are specifically labeled and used for smoking are not regulated under the Denver Food Establishment Regulations, and the above guidance does not apply to these products.   

Any marijuana extractions that are not 100% alcohol-based, that are stored at room temperature, and that have not been approved for such storage by the Department are considered a risk to public health and should be disposed of.  Some foods, depending on their characteristics, are also considered potentially hazardous and require refrigeration once infused with an extraction that is not 100% alcohol based.  Please contact the Public Health Inspections Division for further information at 720-913-1311 or at phicomments@denvergov.org.

Resources & Forms

FDA Bad Bug Book - This handbook provides basic facts regarding food-borne pathogenic microorganisms and natural toxins. It brings together in one place information from the Food & Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, and the National Institutes of Health.


Food-borne Illness Investigations

Food borne illness is a result of eating contaminated food that harbors enough disease causing bacteria or viruses to make you ill. 
 
Food-borne illness (FBI) is not necessarily from the last meal eaten and can occur as long as 45 days after eating contaminated food. Typically, an FBI occurs three hours to three days after eating contaminated food.  Biological samples and food samples may be collected for some illnesses that result from food. The symptoms of food-borne illness can mimic the same symptoms as those caused by the flu and include, but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, body aches, head ache, and dehydration.  Additional information about communicable diseases is available on the web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 
Specialized investigations are conducted for complaints related to illness from the food or beverage. Complainants are interviewed about their symptoms to help determine the cause of the illness. If you believe your are suffering from a foodborne illness, please contact us at 311 (Denver Residents), 720-913-1311 (Outside the Denver Metro Area) or phicomments@denvergov.org 
 
An inspector who specializes in these investigations will contact you regarding your concern. Be prepared to provide information including meals eaten in the 3 days leading up to the illness, the symptoms and when each one started, interactive activities, employment, travel, and contact with other people who are ill. The department appreciates the time and cooperation of those who report food-borne illnesses.

The Public Health Inspection division has many resources and forms.  We offer quarterly food safety classes at our office for $10 (see brochure below), an online food safety course for $10 at State Food Safety.com, one free consultative visit per year to all regulated facilities, and customized food safety classes taught at your facility ($10 per attendee).  In addition, the documents below can help you develop and implement effective food safety systems in your establishment.

Food Safety System Tool Kit - English (PDF)
Food Safety System Tool Kit - Spanish (PDF)
Food Security Preventive Measures (PDF)
2014 Food Safety Class Schedule (PDF)
Online Food Safety Training (PDF)

Food Safety Training Series: Rapid Cooling (English)
Food Safety Training Series: Cross Contamination Food Safety (English)
Food Safety Training Series: Proper Holding Temperatures (English)
Food Safety Training Series: Rapid Cooling (Vietnamese)
Food Safety Training Series: Cross Contamination (Vietnamese)
Food Safety Training Series: Proper Holding Temperatures (Vietnamese)
Food Safety Training Series: Rapid Cooling (Spanish)
Food Safety Training Series: Cross Contamination (Spanish)
Food Safety Training Series: Proper Holding Temperatures (Spanish)

 

HACCP Plan Review Application (PDF)
Time as a Public Health Control Application (PDF)
Sample Components of Prerequisite Programs for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Production Flow Chart Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Production Flow Chart for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Critical Control Points Decision Tree for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Hazard Analysis Chart Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Critical Control Point Summary Chart Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Thermometer Calibration Log Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Refrigerator Air Temperature Monitoring Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Freezer Air Temperature Monitoring Form for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Temperature Log for Stored Food for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Temperature Log for Cooking Food for HACCP (PDF)
Sample Temperature Log for Cooling Food for HACCP (PDF)
Managing Food Safety - An Operators Manual for Applying HACCP (PDF)
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