Restaurant & Food Establishment Food Compliance

Learn 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.

Compliance

Step 1.Regulations and Inspection Information

At a minimum, full service restaurants are inspected twice per year, most delis and fast food restaurants are inspected annually, and facilities with very limited food options - such as bars and convenience stores - are inspected 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 DDPHE Board's rules.

On April 6, 2017, revisions to the Denver Food Establishment Regulations went into effect. 


Step 2.Denver Restaurant and Food Establishment Licensing Requirements

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.


Step 3.Civil Penalties and Enforcement Actions

Enforcement tools used by the Public Health Inspection Division to achieve compliance include civil penalties, court summons, disposal of food, retention of equipment, and closure of facilities when an imminent health hazard exists. To pay civil penalties online, go to www.denvergov.org/deh/paycitation.

If you have received an Administrative Citation and wish to appeal, please follow the Board Rules and Regulations Governing Hearings.


Food Establishment Construction, Remodeling, and Plan Review Information

 

Specialized Businesses

Step 1.Food Trucks & Carts

PHI's Mobile Food News quarterly newsletter is intended to keep the food truck and food cart industry informed about upcoming events, health and safety requirements, and helpful tips to keep mobile food units running safely. 

Subscribe to Mobile Food News 


NOTICE!

Effective September 3, 2022, all new and existing mobile unit operators will be required to submit the mobile plan review packet for new units and the mobile renewal packet for existing units. The last day in-person inspection for the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment will take place on Friday, September 2. Please see the table below for the changes to the process.

Previous Process
(Ends September 2)

New Process
(Starts September 3)
  1. Request fire permit or exemption letter through Denver Fire Department via email.
  2. Pay for fire permit.
  3. Apply for renewal through Excise and License.
  4. Pay licensing fees.
  5. DDPHE would call mobile operator/mobile operator would call 311 to schedule an in-person appointment at DAP.
  6. DDPHE would email operator scheduled appointment with necessary items to bring to inspection.
  7. Bring unit to DAP where both fire and health would physically inspect unit.
  8. Complete necessary paperwork for approval (Affidavit of Commissary, Acknowledgement letter, etc.).
  9. If you do not pass one of these, you are rescheduled to come back to DAP for another inspection.
  10. Once the unit passes both agencies, you are issued your license by Excise and License onsite at DAP.

 

  1. Obtain fire safety operational permit (propane permit). Units that do not use propane can obtain a propane exemption letter from DFD via email:
    dfdmobiles@denvergov.org. Please Ensure the annual propane permit was paid for and issued prior to moving to step 2.*
  2. Complete the mobile plan review packet for new units or the mobile renewal packet for previously licensed mobile units (that still have an active license).**
  3. Submit propane permit or exemption letter and the applicable completed mobile packet to the Department of Excise and Licenses via:
    • Email
      EXLSubmit@denvergov.org

    • In-Person via appointment or walk-in:
      201 W. Colfax Ave. Dept. 206
      Denver, CO 80202
    • Mail to:
      City and County of Denver
      Department of Excise and Licenses
      201 W. Colfax Ave. Dept. 206
      Denver, CO 80202
  4. Pay licensing fees.
  5. DDPHE will review submitted documents and remotely approve unit. An approval letter will be emailed to the operator within 7-10 business days (no physical inspection will be required for DDPHE’s approval).***
  6. You, the operator, will schedule an inspection with DFD via email to dfdmobiles@denvergov.org once you obtain your BFN number (202X-BFN-000XXXX) for new units or your renewal number (202X-RENEW-000XXXX) for renewing units from Excise and Licenses.****
  7. Once approved by both DDPHE and fire, the Department of Excise and Licenses will email a copy of the license to the operator’s email provided in the mobile packet within five business days.
  8. Once the license is obtained, the mobile operator will be eligible to operate.

* Instructions on how to complete the propane permit can be found in English and Espanol.

** If the mobile unit license has expired by more than 90 days or there is new ownership, a mobile plan review packet will need to be completed, and you will need to apply for a new mobile license with the Department of Excise and Licenses.

*** You can schedule your fire inspection at the same time DDPHE is reviewing your submitted documents.

****This will continue to happen at DAP on Fridays through the end of 2022. A new location and day will be considered in 2023.



Step 3.Food Peddler Information

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


Step 5.Cottage Foods & Sales of Whole, Uncut Produce

In 2012, Colorado passed a Cottage Foods Law allowing for certain low risk foods to be prepared and sold from an individual’s home kitchen without a food business license. The law allows for sales directly to consumers only, and there are certain labeling and food safety requirements that manufacturers must adhere to. 

Sales of whole, uncut produce are allowed in Colorado without licensing. The requirements of the Cottage Foods Law do not apply to sales of only whole, uncut produce.

For more information, please review the resources available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Cottage Foods webpage.