Retail Food Establishments
The Department's Food & Consumer Protection division licenses and inspects retail food establishments in Allen County to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. Establishments include restaurants, bars, school cafeterias, bakeries, grocery stores, convenience stores, retail food stores that sell packaged foods and mobile food vendors.
The Department of Health also provides training on food safety and sanitation issues to the food service industry, as well as providing information to consumers on safe food handling practices.
The Department of Health reviews all plans for construction of new food establishments or the remodeling of an existing establishment to ensure Indiana Food Code requirements are met.
Operators should submit plans to the Department prior to obtaining any permits from the Allen County Building Department. Failure to do so could result in an immediate Stop Work Order and assessment of fines. Call 260.449.7111 to speak with our plan reviewer prior to submitting plans.
Food establishments are inspected approximately twice a year by trained inspectors based on standards established by the Indiana Food Code and the Allen County Food and Beverage Ordinance. Visits are generally unannounced and frequency is based on the type of food served. Restaurants preparing food from raw ingredients are inspected more often than convenience stores serving only non-potentially hazardous foods like popcorn and soda. The Department of Health also conducts inspections in response to a consumer complaint or as part of a foodborne illness investigation.
Violations found during an inspection fall into the critical or non-critical category. Critical items can have a direct impact on the safety of the food and the potential for foodborne illness. Non-critical items play a role in the overall performance of the facility but alone do not directly affect food safety. These are usually sanitation or maintenance issues and are the items most often observed by the public while dining.
Examples of critical violations:
- Improper food temperature
- Touching ready-to-eat foods without gloves
- Food from an unapproved source
- Poor personal hygiene and employee health
Examples of noncritical violations include:
- Dirty floors
- Equipment in poor repair
- Workers not wearing hair restraints (hair nets or caps)
- Outside trash not covered
Most violations can be corrected at the time of inspection, but a follow-up inspection can occur to ensure a problem is corrected if necessary. In cases where there is an imminent threat to public health, a facility will be ordered to close until the problem is corrected.
The Department investigates complaints of foodborne illness believed to be connected to retail food establishments. General complaints about sanitation or unsafe handling practices in food service establishments can also be made. Submit a complaint online or by calling 260.449.7562. Department staff make every effort to respond within one business day of receiving the complaint.