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Food Safety Program

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 foodborne 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.

*ServSafe Manager Training Opportunities*
This manager level certification not only keeps customers safe with advanced food safety knowledge, it also helps foodservice establishments comply with the Demonstration of Knowledge and Person in Charge (PIC) requirements within the Wash. State Food Code. Includes some Allergen training. The Advanced Food Safety Certificate is good for 5 years.

The WRA Education Foundation
Training Schedule

The current Washington State Retail Food Code – Effective May 1, 2013.
Click here for a copy of the current working document

The Washington State Retail Food Code changed!
The Washington State Board of Health recently adopted changes to the Food Code based on the 2009 FDA Model Food Code.  The new code took effect May 1, 2013.

2013 Spring Newsletter

Food Code Presentation Talking Points

2013 WA Food Rule Revision Brochure

Summary Document of Changes to Food Code

Food Worker Training
A Food and Beverage worker permit is required for all retail food workers in Washington State.  Do you need to obtain a food worker card or renew an existing one?  We are now offering food worker training online.  We no longer provide training here in our office, although we will still come out to your establishment and provide training for your staff if requested.  For more information about obtaining a Food and Beverage Worker Permit or for training at your establishment, please click here

Permitting Food Establishments
the Food Code requires all Whatcom County retail food establishments to obtain a valid permit from the Health Department. A new application must be submitted to the Health Department:

  • When opening a new food establishment;
  • When remodeling an existing food establishment; or
  • When a food establishment is transferred or sold to a new owner/operator.

Plan review and pre-operational inspection must be completed before an operating permit can be issued.  If you are interested in operating a Food Establishment, please click here.

Temporary Event Permits
Temporary food events include (but are not limited to) booths or trailers at fairs, farmer's market vendors, festivals and fundraisers.  They also include judged cook-off(s), and food sampling / demonstrations. Temporary food events require a permit. Permit fees depend upon the type of food or beverage served and the duration of the event. Food vendors at temporary events are inspected to assure compliance with the Food Code. Each operator is responsible to maintain a clean and safe establishment to prevent the risk of possible illness.  If you are interested in obtaining a temporary food service permit, please click here.

Silver Platter Awards
The Silver Platter Award program has been in place since 2008. Whatcom Countyfood establishments with excellent inspection results--low violation point scores--present a reduced risk of illness to their customers. To qualify for a Silver Platter award, a food establishment operator must demonstrate active managerial control of illness risks by achieving consistent compliance during routine inspections. A food establishment must score zero red high risk factor violation points and 10 or fewer blue violation points on all routine inspections in a calendar year.

What other services does the Food Safety Program offer?
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 areas and notifying the public if biotoxins rise to unsafe levels.

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