|How often are restaurants inspected?
Food establishments in Iowa, including restaurants, grocery stores, and
convenience stores, are required by law to be inspected twice a year or on
a risk-based inspection frequency.
Under a risk-based inspection process, those establishments that
prepare a wide variety of food items on a daily basis and serve them to a
great many consumers are inspected up to three times a year. Convenience stores that sell
prepackaged food items, such as packaged sandwiches and potato chips, are
required to be inspected once per year.
Who conducts restaurant inspections in my area of the state?
The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) is responsible for
administering and enforcing the state’s food inspection system. Over time, the Department has
entered into contracts with 30 local health departments to license and
inspect food establishments in 79 counties and five municipalities in the
state. State inspectors
license and inspect food establishments in 20 counties not covered by
local health departments. To
find out which health department is responsible for licensing and
inspecting food establishments in your area click on “Local Food
Inspection Programs” on the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau’s home
What is a critical violation?
During an inspection at a food establishment, inspectors use a 37-point
checklist to verify that the establishment is conforming to rules and
regulations governing food safety.
All violations are identified as either “critical” or “non
critical.” A critical
violation is one that, if left uncorrected, could cause harm or injury to
the employee or consuming public.
An example of a critical violation would be the improper handling
or storage of toxic materials, such as cleaners, in the food preparation
area of the establishment.
What does “potentially hazardous food” mean?
A potentially hazardous food is one that promotes the rapid growth of
infectious toxic microorganisms.
Potentially hazardous foods include, but are not limited to, such
items as soft pies, meats, milk, eggs, sauces and gravies.
What does “ready to eat” food mean?
A ready-to-eat food is one that is ready to be eaten without additional
preparation by the food establishment or the consumer.
How do I get a license to operate a restaurant?
In order to operate a food establishment, you must first contact either
the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau or your local health department to
apply for the appropriate license.
If you are opening a new restaurant, you must also submit building
plans of your establishment for review by an inspector (referred to as
pre-inspection plan review).
No one may open or operate a food establishment in
Iowa unless the
establishment is inspected before opening and is appropriately
licensed. To find out who
licenses and inspects food establishments in your area, click on “Map of
Local Food Programs” found on the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau’s home
What is an approved food source?
An approved food source is a food item produced or prepared in a
licensed establishment under the jurisdiction of a governmental
entity. Restaurants must
obtain their food items from approved food sources, such as licensed food
processing plants, meat suppliers inspected and licensed by the Iowa
Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), or licensed
grocery stores. The u.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the production and distribution of
all food items (except meat and poultry) sold in interstate commerce.
What is the Food Code?
The Food Code is a set of regulatory guidelines published by the u.S.
Public Health Services and adopted by law in Iowa Code Chapter 137F
(2005). The Food Code sets
out the policies and procedures to be used by food establishments to
safely handle, store, prepare and serve foods to the consuming public.