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.


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. You can also refer to this helpful Food Business License Flow Chart(PDF, 199KB)

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

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

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 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.