Food and Meat Inspection
The Bureau administers and directs food inspection and related regulatory actions associated with food safety and sanitation, consumer protection and certain food grading programs for the Department.
The Food Grades and Standards Section has the responsibility for a wide variety of food safety and consumer protection programs. Foremost is an inspection and testing program for food processing plants, food storage and distribution points, and all stores and other locations in Florida where food is sold to the public. Such facilities must first demonstrate compliance with sanitation requirements before a food establishment permit is issued. The facilities are then inspected on a regular basis to ensure continuing compliance with sanitation standards during all phases of food handling and storage.
A certified food manager is a person responsible for all aspects of the food establishment operation at a food establishment regulated by the Department. Food establishments permitted under Chapter 500, F.S., must have one or more certified food managers. Food establishments with four or more employees present on the same shift must have a food manager present. Food establishments with fewer than four employees must also have a designated food manager, but that person is not required to be on the premises at all times.
This Section also monitors the processing and labeling of bottled water sold in Florida, and the purity of drinking water sold through water vending machines. Contracts with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for specific food store sanitation inspections and the USDA for inspecting and grading poultry, eggs and egg products further involve this Section in consumer protection programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which agencies regulate food businesses in Florida?
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, (DACS), regulates food outlets, including grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, delicatessens, meat and seafood markets, seafood processors, food warehouses, food processing and manufacturing plants, mobile vendors that sell only pre-packaged foods and food service facilities which are a part of a food establishment already regulated by the Department, etc. ( Refer to F.S. Chapter 500)
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) regulates food service establishments such as restaurants, other food service facilities, including temporary events, and mobile vendors that prepare and serve food. (Refer to F.S. Chapter 509)
The Department of Health (DOH) regulates bars, lounges, and establishments serving food in facilities such as child care, schools, institutions, etc.(Refer to F.S. 381.0072)
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regulates Institutions (residential) Hospital kitchens (except those operations involving central food processing using ROP/Sous Vide) and Nursing homes. (Refer to F.S. Chapter 395,400,408)
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) regulates Child Care Facilitates, Group Treatment Homes for Dependent Children, youth Services Group Treatment Homes, Youth Services Start centers and Halfway Houses, Child Care Services Programs, Licensed Child Care Facilities that choose to offer food service (full or limited), Religious Exempt Child Care Facilities that request Food Service Verification by the DCF for the purposes of qualifying for the USDA Food Program only. (Refer to F.S. Chapter 402.311)
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) regulates Institutions (Residential) some group care facilities. (Refer to F.S. Chapter 393)
- What must one acquire prior to opening a Food Establishment
regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services?
An Opening Inspection is required before operation as a Food Establishment to determine compliance with the requirements of the Florida Food Safety Act (Chapter 500, F.S.), the Florida Administrative Rules (Section 5K-4, F.A.C.), and the FDA Food Code 2001. For additional information on criteria that apply to the construction, renovation or conversion of a structure for a Food Establishment, please refer to the Minimum Construction Standards and Specification Checklist.
- If one sells prepackaged food only, is there a requirement
to possess a food permit?
Even if an establishment only sells prepackaged food, a food permit issued by either the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is needed.
- Can one cook or prepare food at home to sell to the public?
Preparation of food for sale to the public must be in a facility in which there is complete separation of living quarters from food preparation facilities. The food preparation facility must be adequately equipped and fully satisfy all food facility requirements of Chapter 500, F.S., and section 5K-4, F.A.C. Please refer to the Cottage Foods Act for information on the preparation and sale of home prepared non-potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety foods). Cottage Food Advisory and Cottage Food Frequently Asked Questions.
- Is one required to have a certified Food Manager at a food
Please refer to our Certified Food Manager information.
- What kind of a sink must one have at a food establishment?
A three compartment sink with two drainboards is necessary in most food establishments to enable the operator to properly wash, rinse, and sanitize soiled food equipment and utensils. A warewashing or hand washing sink may not be used for dumping mop water. Refer to the guidelines provided in the document entitled, Minimum Construction Standards and Specifications Checklist.
- How many restrooms are required in a food establishment?
Depending on type and size of business, one or more restrooms with hand wash lavatories equipped with hot and cold water are required.
More information on opening a food establishment.
Please follow the instructions provided below when printing and completing the forms listed.
- Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print forms. Skip this step if Adobe Reader is already installed on your pc.
- Print forms on white 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
- Type or print the entire form in blue or black ink.
- Make check payable to: FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES.
- Mail check(s) to: FDACS-Food Safety, P.O. Box 6720 Tallahassee, FL 32399-6720.
- DACS-14221 - Request for Initial Inspection and Food Permit Application
- DACS-14802 - Application for Water Vending Machine Operating Permit
- DACS-14222 - Plan Review Application
- DACS-14219 - Export Certificate Application
If you have any questions regarding food permits, please contact:
Dr. John T. Fruin
3125 Conner Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1650
Phone: (850) 245-5520
Fax: (850) 245-5553
If you have any questions regarding water or ice permits, please contact:
3125 Conner Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1650