Food business permits
For King County, WA food establishments
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 farmer's markets, temporary food booths as well as feeding programs for the needy.
FOOD ESTABLISHMENT TYPES
Select a type of establishment that best describes your business to learn more about how to obtain a food business permit:
- Permanent food establishment
A permanent food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days.
- Temporary food establishments
A temporary food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for not more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. (WAC 246-215-01115(124)(a)(b)).
- Mobile food establishments
Mobile Food Establishments include food carts, trailers, and trucks as well as food kiosks. Before constructing, remodeling, or changing ownership; mobile food establishment owners must submit plans for review and approval.
- Farmers Markets
- Catering and home-based food establishments
Catering and home-based food businesses need a food service permit to legally prepare and serve food as hired prior to private parties and events in King County.
- Beverage-related businesses, such as wine, beer, and distillery tasting rooms
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.
OTHER TYPES OF FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS
- Cottage food and wholesale food operations
These businesess are regulated by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture.
- Food operations and bake sales that do not need permits (food exemptions)
Some types of food service operations that are regulated by other agencies or that present minimal risk to causing foodborne illness do not need to obtain a permit. Even so, it is important to follow safe food handling practices like washing your hands and storing the food in a safe place.
- Micro-Market (Unattended Retail) (PDF)
Plan Review Submittal Cover Sheet.
- 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.
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