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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.


What's New?

  • New 2018 Affidavit of Commissary form. The PDF form is now fillable!
  • 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 today!
  • Effective immediately, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) Public Health Inspections Division is restricting the sale or service of kratom for human consumption in Denver. Learn more.
  • In recent months, Denver has seen an increase in the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products for human consumption. Find out more
  • 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.

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 here.

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

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

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 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.

Civil Penalties - Fine Schedule

Fine Schedule - Retail Food Establishments

Fine Schedule - Mobiles, Carts and Temporary

Enforcement Progression for Food Facilities

Food Disposal Guidelines

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 »

**Effective October 1, 2015, Plan Reviews will be required for operators obtaining a new Mobile Unit license. Mobile Plan Review Forms must be completed and approved by the DDPHE to obtain a new license.**

Mobile Retail Food Establishment Licensing Instructions

Mobile Unit Guide

Mobile Plan Review

Commissary Operation Guide

Commissary Vendor Log

Affidavit of Commissary 2018

Commissary Vendor List

Fine Schedule - Mobiles, Carts and Temporary

Mobile Acknowledgement Letter - English

Mobile Acknowledgement Letter - Spanish

Mobile Licensing Inspection Process

Cylinder Safety Flyer - English

Cylinder Safety Flyer - Spanish

Consumer Advisory Document

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 2018
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

Colorado Cottage Foods Act Requirements and Best Practices

What are Cottage Foods FAQs 

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:

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 a suspected 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 offers many forms of educational resources. Quarterly food safety classes are offered at the Denver Animal Shelter community room for $10 per person. 

2018 Basic Food Safety Classes

Classes are also available to be taught in your restaurant by request and pricing varies by class size:

Price Tier 1 - $250 for 10-30 attendees

Price Tier 2 - $350 for 30-50 attendees

Price Tier 3 - $500 for 50+ attendeeds

An online food safety course is available for $10 at State Food Safety.com.

In addition, the documents below can help you develop and implement effective food safety systems in your establishment.

Food Safety System Tool Kit - English
Food Safety System Tool Kit - Spanish
Food Safety Visual Aids (Less Color)
Food Safety Visual Aide (More Color)
Food Security Preventive Measures 
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)

 

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) mission is to empower Denver’s communities to live better, longer. The Public Health Inspections Division, a division of DDPHE, meets this mission by educating people who work in regulated industries and settings, investigating public health hazards, and enforcing public health laws. It is our goal to serve all citizens and customers with respect, transparency and professionalism in a timely manner. Your feedback is critical in helping us achieve our goals. Please take a moment to complete the PHI Customer Service Survey below.

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

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

 

INSPECTION HOURS
 

Summer Hours (April through October)
Monday – Friday
7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Winter hours (November through March)
Monday – Friday
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 

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CONTACT US
 

101 W Colfax Ave., 8th Floor 
Denver, CO 80202 
720-865-5401 (To be connected to PHI Main Line)
Fax: 720-865-5534 
phicomments@denvergov.org

 

NEED HELP
 

Denver 311 Help Center Call 3-1-1
Outside Denver Call 720-913-1311
Emergencies: 911 
TTY Service: 720-913-8479