The Health Department is responsible for inspecting and regulating any establishment serving food, whether it's a restaurant or a temporary food establishment.
Types of food service establishments
Opening a new food service
Opening a temporary food
Frequently asked questions
Types of food service establishments
A food service establishment is defined in the Kentucky Food Establishment Act as any fixed or mobile commercial establishment that engages in the preparation and serving of ready-to-eat foods in portions to the consumer, including, but not limited to:
Short order cafes
Industrial feeding establishments
similar places in which food is prepared for sale or service on the
premises or elsewhere with or without charge
It shall not include food vending machines, establishments serving beverages only in single service or original containers or retail food stores which only cut, slice, and prepare cold-cut sandwiches for individual consumption.
A temporary food establishment is defined in the Kentucky Food Establishment Act as any food service establishment which operates at a fixed location for a period of time, not to exceed 14 consecutive days.
Opening a new retail food
Retail food establishments in Kentucky must meet
certain basic requirements in order to begin operating.
See a timeline for this process. The steps for meeting
those requirements are as follows:
Facility design approval:
Facilities from which retail
food establishments are to operate must be approved by the Health Department
before a permit to operate can be issued. For new and extensively altered
establishments or those that have not previously been permitted as a retail food
establishment, plan drawings are required to be submitted for approval prior to
construction, alteration or use of the facility. Submission of the drawings must
be done as outlined in the “Plan Submission
Guidelines and Basic Facility Requirements for Retail Food Establishments in
Permit to operate:
Retail food establishments in
Kentucky may not operate until a permit has been obtained from the Health
Department. In Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties permits may be
secured by submitting
an application for permit
and the required fee
to Health Department's Environmental Health and Safety office. Permits to
operate are issued following receipt of the application with fee and passage of
a facility inspection.
Food service manager
Within 60 days of receiving a permit to operate, food service establishments such
as restaurants, cafeterias, delicatessens, cafés and catering kitchens in
Northern Kentucky must have a district-certified food service manager on duty at
all times that foods are being prepared and served. Certification may be
accomplished by submitting an application along with the required fee to this
office. Applicants are scheduled for a
class on food safety
and following attendance of the class are tested. Those who attend the class
and pass the written test are awarded the Health Department’s food service
manager certification. The certification remains in effect for three years at
which time it must be renewed.
Opening a temporary food establishment
Temporary food service establishments in Kentucky (such as booths at
festivals), unless specifically exempted, must obtain a permit to operate from
the Health Department prior to opening. In Boone, Campbell, Grant, and Kenton
counties permits may be secured by
submitting an application for permit and the required fee for the event
this office. Upon receipt of the application and fee an inspection will be
conducted by a Health Department representative prior to the scheduled opening
of the booth or facility. Those meeting the
operational requirements for temporary food service establishments are
issued a permit to operate. Please note: Temporary food permits are valid for 14
days at one location and may not be renewed for 30 days. Applications for permits should be submitted to
the Health Department directly or through the event organizer at least two weeks
prior to the event. Completed applications should be sent to Food Program Manager, Northern Kentucky Health Department, Environmental Health
and Safety, 610 Medical Village Drive, Edgewood, KY 41017.
When emergency situations occur that affect an establishment’s ability to
operate in a sanitary manner such as in the case of fire, extended power outages
and water service interruptions, the establishment should suspend its operations
and notify the Health Department of the occurrence. Following an investigation
of the situation the establishment will be notified about when it may resume
operation. For water service interruptions resulting in water supply
emergencies, establishments must also adhere to Kentucky’s
Water Emergency Operational Procedures for Retail Food Establishments until
the water supply emergency is lifted.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a concern about sanitation or food preparation at a Northern Kentucky restaurant. What should I do?
The Health Department will investigate any complaints about sanitation in a restaurant or food contamination. To register a complaint, please contact Environmental Services at 859.341.4151. Please note that it may be a few days before your complaint will be investigated. Often times, incidents causing concern in restaurants are isolated or can be easily corrected.
I already have a food establishment permit for this year. How do I renew it for next year?
Food permits are good for the calendar year. If you have an existing food establishment, you should automatically get a renewal application, typically in the fall months.
Are restaurant workers required to wear gloves when preparing food?
Glove use is not necessarily required when preparing food. If there is minimal hand contact with the food, gloves are not required. If food is handled directly, there must be a barrier in place; the food handler can either wear gloves or use tongs, spatula, etc.
How often should restaurant workers change gloves?
Gloves should be changed regularly, especially between tasks. If a restaurant worker is not wearing gloves, he should wash his hands frequently.
Are restaurant workers required to wear hair nets when preparing food?
Some type of hair restraint is required for anyone preparing food, either a visor, hat, hairnet, barrettes or pony tail.
I'm opening my restaurant late in the year. Is the permit fee pro-rated?
Unfortunately food permit fees are not pro-rated. The fee currently varies between $120 and $290 depending upon the number of seats in the establishment, whether or not it has a drive through window and whether or not it engages in catering of food.
How long can my temporary food permit last?
Temporary food establishment permits may only last for 14 days. If you would like to operate a temporary food establishment for longer, you must either apply for a permanent permit or close for 30 days and then re-open with a new temporary permit.
I would like to open a food-based business in my home. What should I do?
In general, home-based businesses (such as bakers or caterers) are prohibited. For a home food business to be permitted, the kitchen where the food is prepared must be separated from the rest of the living quarters with solid walls or doors. The kitchen may only be used for the business.
The reason a food service establishment must be separated from a private home is because foods prepared by a business must be able to be monitored as much as possible by the Health Department. If the kitchen facility is also used for private living purposes, it is difficult to monitor the conditions under which foods are prepared. Commercial food service operation may mix, overlap or intersperse with private activities or living practices which may not be consistent with other requirements of the
Kentucky Food Service Code.
If you have more questions about home-based businesses, please contact Environmental Services at 859.341.4151.