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The Food Protection Program reviews and approves construction plans for retail food establishments in King County; such as restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, school cafeterias and mobile food vehicles. The Food Protection Program also reviews applications for farmers markets, temporary food booths as well as feeding programs for the needy.

New Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) Program

Webinar held July 29, 2020, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Public Health — Seattle & King County is striving for a safe reopening so King County residents can get back to the activities they enjoy. In an effort to help restaurants and food establishments reopen and operate safely, and to keep us on the path to further reopening, King County is launching the Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) on August 3rd. SSTAR provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance. It also increases the accountability of restaurants to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening. This webinar covers the purpose of the program, what you need to do to stay in compliance, an outline of what happens if there is a COVID-19 positive case in your business, and information from the Washington Hospitality Association.

Notice for food establishment permit holders

Dear Food Establishment Permit Holder:

Thank you for continuing to do your part to control the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Recognizing the financial strain the pandemic and measures to control the spread of COVID-19 has had on your food business; we had offered food establishments two permit due date extensions. The first extension was for 60 days (March 31st to May 31st) and the second extension was for 45 days (May 31st to July 15th). Currently your food establishment annual operating permit has expired.
We understand that many food establishmens are struggling financially, therefore once again we are offering an opportunity to renew your permit without incurring a late fee.

1. Payments received before or on August 14th:

  • Payments received before or on August 14th will not be assessed any late fee.

2. Payments received on or after August 15th:

  • Payments made on or after August 15th through September 13th will be assessed a 20% late fee.
  • Payments made on or after September 14th will be assessed a 30% late fee.

3. Proration of fees or refunds for permanent and seasonal permits:

  • Annual permit fee for existing food establishments will not be prorated regardless of when permits are renewed.
  • Refunds of fees paid for permanent food businesses due to temporarily or permanently closing of operations will not be authorized.

4. Change of business status:

  • If your food business is either temporarily or permanently closed please fill out and return the renewal notice indicating the change of business status by August 15th.

If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator or call 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff. For the latest information, please visit:

Access the online payment portal


Select a type of establishment that best describes your business to learn more about how to obtain a food business permit:

Preparation for reopening restaurants with introduction to Phase II requirements

On May 20, 2020, Public Health – Seattle & King County hosted a webinar in collaboration with the City of Seattle and the Washington Hospitality Association, outlining guidance for reopening restaurants and how to prepare for Phase II of the Safe Start approach to reopening.

Presenters provide guidance for preparing equipment and buildings for opening, ensuring employee and customer health and safety, how to implement Safe Start requirements, and more.

Minimize the spread of COVID-19
in retail food establishments

CBDs (cannabidiol) in food and beverages

Recently there has been interest from food establishment operators in selling food and beverage products with industrial hemp and its derivatives such as cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. Federal and State laws do not permit the manufacture and retail sales of CBD as a food ingredient in foods and beverages for sale in retail food establishments.

Therefore, in King County, the addition of CBD to food and beverages is prohibited until further guidance and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Washington State Department of Agriculture, and Washington Department of Health.

This means that operators may not add CBD to food or beverages, nor may they obtain products containing CBD for resale in any retail food establishment in King County, including restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, grocery stores, or at temporary food events and farmers markets.

There are also regulations related to the manufacturing for wholesale and/or interstate shipping of food and beverage products containing CBD. This is regulated in Washington state by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Learn more.



  • Food worker card class and test
    All employees of a food establishment including cooks, bartenders, servers, hosts, bus persons, etc. are required to obtain a Washington State Food Worker Card. You can take the class and test conveniently online or go to any of our in-person classes.

  • Meat cutter license
    If your job requires the cutting of fresh beef, veal, lamb and/or pork within a meat establishment you will need to pass an exam to obtain a personal occupational Meat Cutter license in addition to the Food Worker Card exam.

  • Nutrition labeling requirements for King County chain food establishments
    The King County Board of Health's nutrition labeling regulation requires some chain food restaurants permitted by Public Health - Seattle & King County to provide calorie, saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium information to customers.

  • Artificial trans fat ban requirements for all King County food establishments
    Artificial trans fat is formed during a chemical process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, creating a "partially hydrogenated oil." Even eating small amounts of trans fats increase the risk for coronary heart disease by raising LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreasing HDL (good cholesterol). In King County, food establishments may not use nor sell any product that contains partially hydrogenated oils.