STARTING A FOOD BUSINESS – CHECKLIST
Starting a Food Business Checklist
This guide is for prospective operators of food business (food establishments, retail food stores, food warehouses, and food processors) desiring a Checklist to start a food business in either their local city, county or state jurisdiction,
it is good to note that though this document will more than likely cover, most the checklist for starting a food business in your jurisdiction,
This is a general overview and may not be all-inclusive of the codes and ordinances in your locality.
It would be in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the codes and regulations of your local city, Country, and/or state.
Operating Permits – Food business Checklist
Firstly, On the checklist, obtained Food business applications from your local city or county health department.
Do you plan to manufacture foods and package for retail sale? you are required to obtain a food manufacturer’s license from your country’s regulatory agency.
Therefore, make sure that you provide ALL information required on the application. Incomplete applications may delay your approval.
Food Enterprise Pre-Opening Processes
Secondly, another key factor to add to your food business checklist, is that when starting a Food business you may be required to go through either or both A) a change of ownership inspection or B) a plan review process.
Read through options A & B below to determine which best fits your situation. Contact your local health authority if you need help in making that determination to start a food business.
A) Change of Ownership Inspection Process – ( Food Business Checklist )
Before opening your food business, go through a change of ownership inspection. This inspection verifies your establishment complies with current regulations and that clearance to occupy the site has been granted by your city or country.
This inspection may incur a fee and you must pay the fee for this inspection before the inspector conducts the inspection. If applicable, a request for a Change of Ownership application should be available at the offices of your local city or county health authority.
Again, to expedite your request, submit a fully completed application. After applying; call to schedule the inspection with your inspector.
Bring the code up before they approve your operating permit, that’s if the establishment doesn’t comply with current regulations, . Prospective business owners, if available, it would be in your best interest to request a change of ownership inspection before finalizing the sale.
Under no circumstances may you begin operations without approval from the local city or county health authority. The ministry will file Legal charges against you if you do.
Therefore, be sure to add this to your Food Business Checklist.
B) Food Business Establishment Plan Review Process
The ministry will require a plan review for any newly built business or in the event of an extensive remodel of an existing business.
NOTE: To initiate this process, the ministry will also require a completed application, and fees are paid to initiate this process.
A Plan Review is a very important factor in the Food Business checklist.
The ministry requires you to submit as a package the Plan Review Application, including the proposed menu, Fees, and one or more sets of building plans.
Plan Review Process – Food Business Checklist
Review all forms thoroughly to ensure the accuracy of the information provided. Incomplete or inaccurate applications could delay your plan review.
The Plan Review Application should be available at the offices of your local city or county Health Authority.
You can pick up your Review Application when the Health Authority stamps them.
Submit building plans after you have determined the type of food operation and menu, and after receiving Building approval from your local city or county development offices.
Draw the building plans to scale with most plans drawn on a scale of ¼” = 1Ft. and detail the layout of the kitchen, dining area, restrooms, storage areas, break room, wait for stations, and bar.
The Food Business plans are to include a materials Checklist of specifications for all floors, walls, and ceilings.
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Certificate of Occupancy
This is one of the most important on the Food Business Checklist.
The ministry requires all Food Business Enterprises to Checklist a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The Ministry will issue a CO after the Building and Health Officials inspect the building and find no violations of the Building or Health Codes during new construction and/or a remodel.
The CO will also state the use for which the building will be used. The Ministry also requires a CO Inspection before getting final health approval.
But in some cases, your building inspector will not only require a preliminary CO inspection before receiving your final health approval but also a secondary (final), before they approve your Operating Permit.
Before applying for a CO for your food business, inquire with your local health authority and building inspectors to see the process they require.
NOTE: Contact the building inspectors at least 7 days before the time you are ready to schedule your inspection. This should ensure that you get a timely response.
Finally, On the food business Checklist, Once you have completed the pre-opening processes and your Building and Health Inspectors have approved your operating permit, you may open for business.
Under no circumstances may you begin operations without approval from both the Building and Health Inspectors, Legal charges filed against.
Building Permits: Plans may need to be submitted for a Commercial Plan Review. If required, contact your local Building or Development Services Office to schedule this review and to obtain a building permit.
Industrial Waste: If you are taking over a previous business and changing the type of operation, ensure the grease trap meets the requirements for your new operation.
For example, when a “sandwich shop” becomes a “fried chicken” location, the existing grease trap may need to be modified.
Contact your local industrial waste inspector to ascertain if you need changes to the existing system or to evaluate your engineered designs if your plans require the installation of an on-site septic system.
Fire Inspections: Building Inspectors are concerned with grease-laden vapors and proper hood protection in food facilities. You will install all cooking equipment under an approved hood system.
Also, The Health inspector requires establishments above 5,000 sq. ft, to provide a sprinkler system. They also require Establishments with an occupancy load of over 50 people to provide fire alarms.
Call your local building inspector, fire inspector, or fire marshal to evaluate plans or to schedule a site inspection.
What to put in a plan Review ( Food Business Checklist )
Include and identify the following on your Food Business Checklist of equipment – Major pieces of equipment are Refrigerator/freezer units! Vent-hood Ice machines/bins/dispensers, Steamers Microwaves, Warming Drawer,s Stoves Prep tables! Ice Cream Dispenser, Ovens Dish Machines, Beverage Station/dispenser Grills Mixers, Blender Station Fryers! Food Processors, Salad/Food Buffets- Sinks, Hand sinks (food prep area,s ware-washing area, restrooms) Ware washing sinks, Service Sink/Mop sink/curbed floor sink, Food Prep Sink
The following are a list of items to add to your Food Business Checklist
All refrigerated units are to hold foods at or below 41°F.
If the establishment has only carry-out or seating for less than 20 people, and less than 10 employees, then only one employee restroom may be allowed.
The health inspector requires two restrooms, if you serve alcohol on the premises or when you provide more than 20 seats. Each restroom must have a hand sink with hot (at least 100°F) and cold water, mechanical air ventilation to the outside, and a solid, self-closing door.
Restrooms may not open directly into a kitchen. The total number of restrooms for a Childcare facility is dependent on the “minimum standards” of Texas. Dept. of Family and Protective Services (834-3195) as it relates to Childcare.
A. Service Sink/Mop Sink/Curbed Floor sink:
At least one of these must be available for mop washing and disposal of mop water in an approved wastewater disposal system.
Provide a sink with a backflow preventer on any threaded hose bib to protect the water supply. Note: the mop sink may be located in a different area of the building than the kitchen.
list of items to add to your Food Business Checklist
B. Hand washing sinks:
Locate hand washing sinks to allow convenient use by employees in food preparation, food dispensing, ware wash areas, and any wait station where ice is dispensed, bar area, or in a walk-in where meat is cut or trimmed.
They require one hand sinks, and separate hand sinks. They also require small kitchens with food prep and ware washing close so the hand sink will serve both activities.
The associate other hand sinks with restrooms. Provide at least 12″ tall splash guards if a hand sink is located near food prep, open food, ice, or clean food contact surfaces.
Otherwise, the hand sink must have at least 18″ lateral separation from these. Provide a sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands to all handwashing sinks and make it visible.
A small, swinging door (as in a bar area) could separate a hand sink from a work area, otherwise, no doors separating hand sink from work areas.
supply each sink with hot (100°F) and cold water, soap, and disposable towels. Childcare facilities must have hot water in the diaper changing area and kitchen.
If plans do not provide sufficient hand sinks to meet the requirements of the establishment you will be asked to provide a revised plan with additional hand sinks.
Still on the items to add to your Food Business Checklist
C. Ware Wash Area:
A commercial dishwasher or 3 compartment sink is required in most cases. Dish machines must be able to effectively sanitize all equipment and utensils.
They must dispense a chemical sanitizer or provide a final rinse of at least 180° F. (single, stationary rack machines are required to reach 165° in the sanitize cycle).
Test strips are required. Above-the-counter dish machines are required to have Type II vent-hood.
Ware washing sinks shall be of sufficient size to immerse the largest piece of equipment. Cold and hot (100°F minimum) water under pressure delivered through a mixing valve shall be provided.
Provide at least 2 integral drainboards or 1 integral drainboard and a mobile dish cart. Drying racks or shelves will aid inadequately air drying all wares.
Facilities with very limited ware washing and using disposable containers may request a variance to install a 2 compartment sink (example: convenience store).
These sinks are required to have a drainboard. The sinks must have an indirect connection to the sanitary sewer (at least a one-inch air gap). This includes all food prep sinks and ware wash sinks.
4) Ceiling Construction: ( list of items to add to your Food Business Checklist )
Ceilings over open food, ice, soda fountains, ware washing, restrooms, and bars must meet construction criteria and be smooth, durable, nonabsorbent, and cleanable.
Open rafters, trusses or grid work, and exposed ductwork, pipes or utility lines are usually prohibited with no open structure permitted. If the drop-down acoustic tiles are used, they must be properly constructed.
These tiles are washable and have a smooth surface without pinholes. Painted drywall or boards are generally acceptable.
Further, Walls/Floors must be constructed of approved materials, Cleanable water-based enamel paint is usually acceptable for most wall surfaces.
For instance, areas that are subject to regular cleaning and splash may be covered with FRP, stainless, or galvanized metal. Floor/wall junctures shall provide no greater than 1/32″ gap. Baseboards are required.
Caulk wall/floor junctures to prevent the collection of food particles and water. Masonry (brick/concrete) wall/floor junctures DO NOT require baseboards since a masonry juncture provides no gap.
Raw brick and concrete in the kitchen area require sealing. The sand grout of all tiles needs to be sealed. Epoxy grout does not require sealing. VCT floor tiles require a coat of wax to seal out liquids.
6) Solid Waste:
Dumpster and grease barrels shall rest on a machine laid asphalt or concrete pad. These containers must have tight-fitting lids and drain plugs in place.
7) Outdoor Cooking facilities:
The health inspectors will enclose Barbeque pets or smokers, and they require at least 1/6″ mesh screen if screened in. They shall rest on a concrete or asphalt pad.
The meat may only be placed on the smoker; no food prep allowed in this enclosure. Any seasoning, cutting, etc. must take place inside the establishment.
Outdoor bars and wait stations will be approved on a case by case basis by your local health authority.
8) Water and Sewage Systems:
All private onsite sewage facilities and wells serving a new food enterprise, an extensively remodeled food enterprise, or a food enterprise coming under new ownership must meet current standards.
They require to evaluate these systems concerning whether the system (a) meets current standards and (b) is adequate for the proposed use.
Consult your local health authority to inquire about any questions regarding the use of a private well.
9) Protecting the Water Supply: (Items to add to your Food Business Checklist)
The health inspector also requires threaded hose bibs to have a backflow prevention device attached.
Further, spray hoses and fill hoses shall hang at least 1 inch above the maximum flood rim of a basin or the hoses shall be provided with an atmospheric vacuum breaker or backflow prevention device.
10) Indirect Connections:
Make provisions for Jockey boxes, ice bins, ice machines, and sinks (as identified above in # 3) with indirect connections to the sewer. They also require Floor sinks on new construction.
You must provide an adequate amount of light to all areas, they also require At least 20-foot candles where you provide food for customer self-service, such as buffet and salad bars or where you sell fresh produce or packaged foods.
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