Food Safety Program

New: Food establishment logs for cooling food, dishwashing, thermometer calibration, cooking, and refrigeration temperatures.

The food safety program protects public health by: working to reduce the factors that cause most food-borne illnesses; ensuring that food sold and served to the public is wholesome, free of contamination and spoilage; and by actively promoting compliance with state food safety laws and regulations through education and enforcement.

New Resources

Guidance for reopening retail food establishments after flooding

Refrigerate Food Safely: Separate, don't cross-contaminate! – Do you know where to store specific foods in your refrigerator to avoid contamination? This handout will show you where to put your foods, from the top shelf to the bottom.

Dented Cans: A guide for food safety – Some dented cans are harmless. Others can cause serious illness if the food inside is eaten. This guide is designed to help you decide which dented cans are safe and which are unsafe.

Consumer food advisories – A consumer advisory consists of a disclosure and a reminder intended to inform consumers of the increased risk of foodborne illness from eating raw or undercooked animal foods.

photo of food inspector

CDC Vital Signs™ — Make Food Safer to Eat. Clean - Separate - Cook - Chill

Services Provided

photo of food inspector

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common cause of food-borne Illness?

Most food-borne illnesses are caused by workers who work when they are sick or have recently been sick, or workers that have poor hygienic practices.

How can an ill food service worker pass on a food-borne illness?

Individuals with vomiting or diarrhea can easily contaminate food with the viruses or bacteria they have that cause these symptoms. Individuals who have vomiting or diarrhea are not allowed to work in a food establishment. Ill workers are required to stay home from work for at least 48 hours after they are symptom free.

What is the importance of handwashing in a food service establishment?

Food workers who do not thoroughly wash their hands can contaminate the food with viruses and bacteria that they are carrying. Food service workers can prevent contaminating food items by washing their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, washing hands before and during food preparation, and not handling ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.

Can I get sick if I eat foods that have not been kept at the right temperature?

The second most common cause of food-borne illness is due to foods not being kept at safe temperatures. Foods must be held cold, below 41°F or hot, above 135°F to help prevent bacterial growth in them. When foods are held for prolonged periods of times between 41°F and 135°F, disease- causing bacteria can grow to unsafe levels; then when the food is eaten, it can cause illness.

How often are food establishments inspected?

Inspection frequency ranges from once to four times a year. Inspection frequencies are based upon risk. How complex an establishment's menu is and the methods of food preparation are factored into the inspection frequency. In addition, how the operation has done on past health department inspections, the types of violations, and the number of violations that have been found are also use to determine inspection frequency. Inspection frequencies for establishments are usually re-evaluated annually

What does the health department look for in an inspection?

Inspections focus on the factors that have been shown to cause most food-borne illnesses such as problems associated with worker hygiene, food temperature control, cooking temperatures, cross contamination, how equipment and utensils are washed and food protection.

Inspectors check hygiene of workers, hand washing practices and how utensils and gloves are used to handle ready-to-eat foods. They also monitor food temperatures and food handling processes such as how quickly hot foods are cooled, how cold foods are reheated, what temperatures foods are cooked to, and at what temperatures do refrigerators and hot holding equipment hold food temperatures. Inspectors evaluate how foods are stored and how equipment and utensils are cleaned and sanitized. The food workers' food safety knowledge is also evaluated. See our Violations explained pages for more details.

Are Inspection Reports Available To The Public?

Inspection reports are public documents and can be reviewed on the department's restaurant inspection database. You can also contact the health department at (970) 498-6775 and make an appointment to review a report. Inspection findings are also listed in some local newspapers.

What should I do if I get sick after eating out?

If you are severely ill or if symptoms persist, contact your healthcare provider. Contact the establishment where you ate and advise them of your concerns. Report the complaint to the local health department where the establishment is located. If the establishment is in Larimer County, contact the health department at (970) 498-6775 or by email. The health department will follow up with you and request information detailing what meals and foods the sick person ate in the last 72 hours, at what times the sick person ate them, and where the sick person ate them. They will also want to know what symptoms the sick person is having, when did the symptoms start, and if there are there others ill with similar symptoms.

If I want to open a restaurant, grocery store or other type of food operation, what do I need to do?

If interested in starting a food business in Larimer County, contact the health department for assistance at (970) 498-6775. You will be provided with copies of state regulations, plan review information and advice on how to get started. You will need to submit a plan review application, set of plans with outlined specifications and $100 application fee to the health department. Plans and specifications must be reviewed and approved before any construction is started. A plan review is needed to insure the establishment will be constructed to meet the current food safety regulations and to help prevent costly construction changes.

If I want to purchase an existing restaurant, grocery store or other type of food operation, what do I need to do?

If interested in purchasing an existing food business in Larimer County, contact the health department at (970) 498-6775 or by email so a change of ownership inspection can be conducted. A current inspection can provide detailed information outlining any changes or remodeling which may be required to meet current code requirements. Since regulations change and establishments are often modified between inspections, a restaurant that is operating may not meet the current regulations.

How much does a license cost for a food service establishment?

Prices listed below are effective July 1, 2009.

State law establishes license fees. The cost of a license ranges from $155 to $690.

Licensing fees for restaurants are based on the establishment's seating capacity (indoors and outdoors).

  • Seating capacity between 0-100 the fee is $255.
  • Seating capacity between 101-200 the fee is $285.
  • Seating capacity 201 seats and over the fee is $310.

Licensing fees for grocery stores or markets are based on the establishment's square footage and whether the establishment includes a deli.

  • For grocery stores or markets with a deli, the fees range from $207 to $690.
  • For grocery stores or markets without a deli, the fees range from $115 to $500.

How do I get a license to operate restaurant or a grocery store?

Contact the health department to obtain a license application. When your facility receives approval from the health department to operate, the license application will be approved and the license will be mailed to the establishment. Licenses must be renewed in January of each year, and are valid through December 31 of the licensing year. They are not transferable from one operator to another or from one location to another.

Where do I find information on smoke-free laws and smoking regulations?

By law, most public indoor areas are required to be smoke-free. A fact sheet has been developed to outline the details of smoke-free laws that apply to food service establishments. Any questions or requests for more information should be directed to Tobacco Free Larimer County at (970) 498-6718.

Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's website for state retail food establishment information.

Related Internet Sites

Contact Information

Larimer County Department of Health
Environmental Health Division
(970) 498-6775
(970) 498-6776
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