Food Safety

About the Food Safety Program

The Food Safety Program is responsible for permitting and inspecting retail food establishments in Whatcom County such as restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, school cafeterias and mobile food vendors. The Food Safety Program also permits and inspects farmer's markets, temporary food events and soup kitchens.

Food safety is important to each member of our community. The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans get sick each year from food borne illnesses.

Whatcom County permits about 1300 permanent food establishments. Managers and food workers are trained to handle food safety and must pass the Washington State food worker training test. All food establishments must comply with the Washington State Retail Food Code.

In addition to routine inspections, the food safety program staff help to prevent food-borne illness in Whatcom County by:

  • Consulting with individuals who want to start a food business.
  • Investigating food-borne illness reports.
  • Investigating complaints about unsanitary conditions.
  • Teaching food workers, students and community members about safe food handling.
  • Notifying food establishment operators about recalls affecting Washington State.
  • Monitoring recreational shellfish harvesting and notifying the public if biotoxins rise to unsafe levels.
  1. Fish Advisory
  2. Power Outages in Food Sites
Health Alert: Fish Advisory for Lake Whatcom

Whatcom County Health Department and Washington State Department of Health advise that women of childbearing age and children under age six should:
  • Not eat smallmouth bass caught in Lake Whatcom.
Women of childbearing age and children under age six should also limit the amount of Lake Whatcom yellow perch they eat. Recommended weekly limits for yellow perch are based on body weight:
  • A woman who weighs less than 135 pounds should eat less than six ounces per week.
  • Children under age six should eat less than four ounces per week. Weekly limits for children under age six range from about one ounce for a child who weighs 25 pounds to three ounces for a child weighing 70 pounds.
For additional information on this subject, please visit the Washington State Department of Health website here.