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Denver Restaurant & Food Establishment Inspections

Woman inspecting food facility

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

What's New?

In recent months, Denver has seen an increase in the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products for human consumption. Find out more here

An inspection checklist was recently developed to help prepare operators for license approval and regulatory inspections. Read the Inspection Process Overview for Dispensaries & Infused Product Manufacturers (MIPs)

On Sept. 12, DEH also hosted an informational meeting for Denver area cannabis industry professionals to provide information on inspection processes, public health investigations, product ingredients and hemp-derived products. Click here to view the presentation.

 

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.

Denver Food Establishment Regulations
Denver Revised Municipal Code, Chapter 23
Inspection Violation Correction Form
Food Labeling-Guide
Food Disposal Guidelines

On August 1, 2014, revisions to the Denver Food Establishment Regulations went into effect.  A summary of the changes to the regulations can be found here.

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

Enforcement 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

Fine Schedule - Mobile Units, Food Carts, Temporary Service Establishments

Enforcement Progression for Food Facilities

Food Disposal Guidelines

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
Affidavit of Commissary 2017
Commissary List

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.  For more information, please review the following resources from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

Colorado Cottage Foods Act Fact Sheet
Colorado Cottage Foods Producer Brochure
Colorado Cottage Foods Eligibility Checklist
Fresh Produce-Cottage Residential Sales Handout - English
Fresh Produce-Cottage Residential Sales Handout - Spanish

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 information about best practices for growing, harvesting, and handling produce, review the following brochure:

Safe Handling Guidelines for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Information about marijuana consumer safety and applicable regulations can be found here.

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.

Take an anonymous survey to let us know how your most recent inspection went. Click Here

Por favor, visite http://surveymonkey.com/s/foodinspectionsurveyespanol para completar una encuesta breve y proporcionarnos realimentación sobre esta inspección.

 

Public Health Inspections Division Programs

Public Health Inspections Hours

Monday - Friday

7:30 a.m.  - 5:00 p.m.

By appointment only between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. by calling 311 or 720-913-1311.

Denver Environmental Health News & Information