Food Safety Services

Concerns regarding food safety or sanitation within a food service facility within Kent County?
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Kent County Health Department is responsible for the licensure and auditing of food facilities located within Kent County that sell or serve food to the public. This includes restaurants, concession stands, bars, school lunch programs, catering operations, mobile food carts, coffee shops, cafes, and temporary food events. Food facilities not regulated by Kent County include food processing plants, butcher shops, produce markets, convenience stores, and grocery stores. These operations are licensed and regulated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

The licensing and auditing of food facilities is intended to ensure that these operations maintain a level of food safety and sanitation compliant with the Food Law & Code. The majority of food facilities regulated by Kent County receive two unannounced food audits annually. These audits are risk based and focus on the five CDC risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness. These risk factors include unapproved food source, poor food employee hygiene, improper cooking temperatures, inadequate cold & hot holding of food, and cleanliness of food contact surfaces.

Licensing & Plan Review

All food facilities (permanent, temporary, fixed, or mobile) are required to obtain a food license before operation. If a new facility is being constructed or an existing facility remodeled then an application for plan review must be submitted to Kent County Health Department and approved before construction may begin.

If an existing food facility changes ownership, then the new owner must make application for a food license before operating.  Food licenses are non-transferable.  The below link is a fillable food license application that can be filled out and brought to the Kent County Health Department along with the fee for change of ownership and food license fee.  Once the application is received with payments a Sanitarian will be assigned to complete the licensing of the establishment with the new owner.  Additional documentation may be required if the new owner is planning a change in menu, equipment, or food operations. 

Temporary Food Facility

A temporary food facility is an operation which operates at a fixed location for a temporary period not to exceed 14 consecutive days. Application for temporary license must be submitted and an on-site audit conducted before a temporary license will be granted and service to the public begins.  Organizations claiming non-profit status must present written documentation.

Food Safety Education

The Michigan Food law requires all food service establishments to have at least one manager certified in food safety. Managers with the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification meet this requirement. Click on ServSafe Flyer 2018 below for information on upcoming ServSafe Trainings. Click on Food Program Feedback to fill out a quick 3 minute feedback form regarding your food establishment inspection.

To protect the public from foodborne illnesses, all food service establishment employees need to have a basic training in safe food handling practices.  The below links are resources that can be used by food service establishments to assist in this training.

Understanding Food Service Reports

During food facility audits, Sanitarians complete a Food Service Establishment Inspection Report. Items on the report that have the highest risk for causing a foodborne illness are labeled Critical Violations if the audit was conducted prior to October 1, 2012. If the audit occurred October 1, 2012 or later, the high risk violations are classified as Priority or Priority Foundation Violations. Items with a lower risk of causing a food borne illness are labeled Non-Critical Violations if done prior to October 1, 2012.  After this date, low risk violations are labeled as Core Violations.

Food Service Establishment Inspection Reports have always been public records, and are available for public review under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, the below link will bring you to Inspection Reports (routines, follow ups, partials, and pre-openings) for the last three years of permanent licensed food facilities regulated by Kent County Health Department. Once on the Inspection Reports page, select Kent County from the drop box of options and the name or address of the facility in which you are interested. You may also search alphabetically for a restaurant by choosing the first letter of an establishment on the A through Z feature.