Environmental Health Services

Food Service Operators

The Health Department is responsible for inspecting and regulating any establishment serving or selling food, whether it’s a restaurant, grocery store or a temporary food booth.

Food Inspections

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New Food Service Establishments

New food service establishments in Northern Kentucky are required to have approved construction plans.

Building or renovating

Food service establishments that are new or remodeled must make arrangements to have plans reviewed prior to construction, alteration or use of the facility. Factors considered during this review include:

  • Toilet and hand-washing facilities
  • Kitchen layout, including food preparation and dishwashing areas
  • Connections for water and sewer service (either public utilities or private sewage disposal)
  • Location of food service equipment
  • Proper lighting, ventilation and grease control

Each submission must be accompanied by:

Plan drawings for establishments that are NOT a mobile food truck can be submitted to Ted Talley, Environmental Health Manager, Northern Kentucky Health Department, 8001 Veterans Memorial Drive, Florence, KY 41042.

Plan drawings for mobile food establishments (food trucks) can be submitted to Ashley McCandless, Environmental Health Coordinator, Northern Kentucky Health Department, 8001 Veterans Memorial Drive, Florence, KY 41042.

Final steps before opening

New establishments or those that have been renovated should follow these steps after plans have been reviewed or approved:

Two weeks prior to opening

Three to five days prior to opening

  • Schedule opening inspection. All construction must be completed with required agency approval, including plumbing, building inspector, fire marshal, etc.
  • Establishment must be free of construction material and debris.
  • All kitchen equipment must be installed and operating properly.
  • Establishment must be stocked and ready to operate.
  • No critical violations and only minimal non-critical violations must be found during the opening food inspection.

One to two days prior to opening

  • A follow-up inspection will occur, if needed. The inspector will verify correction of critical and non-critical violations.

More information

For more information on plan review or other steps required to open a new food service establishment or renovate an existing facility, please contact Ted Talley Ted.Talley@nkyhealth.org or call 859-363-2027.

Food Inspections (FAQ)

Home-based Food Businesses

Food Permits

Food Service Establishments Permits

Types

Any place in which food is prepared for sale or service on the premises or elsewhere with or without charge is considered a food service establishment this includes:

  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Bars/taverns
  • Catering kitchens
  • Cafeterias

Permits and fees

All food service establishments are required to have a food permit in order to operate.

In addition to completing the food permit application, those operating an establishment must also pay an annual food permit fee.

Size Fees
0 seats $125
25 seats or fewer $200
26-50 seats $250
51-100 seats $280
101-200 seats $310
More than 200 seats $340

 

Note: The seating number is based upon the actual number of seats present at the establishment that are regularly offered for use by patrons. Optional outdoor seating is not counted, but outdoor seating where customers are seated and served is counted.

Additional Fees
Drive-through window $155
Catering $135

More information

If you have questions about food permits, please contact the Health Department nkywebmaster@nkyhealth.org or call 859-341-4151.

Opening a new food service establishment see below.

Retail Food Permits

Types

Any place selling pre-packaged, manufactured items is considered a retail food outlet.

Permits and fees

All food service establishments are required to have a food permit in order to operate.

In addition to completing the food permit application, those operating an establishment must also pay an annual food permit fee.

Size Food Permit Fee
1,000 square feet or fewer $90
1,001 to 10,000 square feet $155
10,001 to 20,000 square feet $215
20,001 to 30,000 square feet $250
More than 30,000 square feet $375

More information

If you have questions about food permits, please contact the Health Department or call 859-341-4151.

Opening a new food service establishment

Temporary Food Service Permits

Types

Temporary food service establishments are those that prepare and serve food for the public to purchase or consume and operate fewer than 14 days. This includes food operations at:

  • Festivals and fairs
  • Craft shows
  • Customer appreciation days

Permits

Temporary food operators in Kentucky, unless specifically exempted, must obtain a permit to operate and be inspected by the Health Department prior to opening.

In Northern Kentucky, the permit application and necessary fee must be submitted to the Health Department at least three business days prior to the event’s start date.  In order to receive a refund, NKY Health must be notified of cancellations at least 24 hours in advance.

Application for a temporary permit: Word, PDF

Fees

To operate for 1 to 3 days $60
To operate for 4 to 7 days $90
To operate for 8 to 14 days $125

Requirements

Learn more about the requirements for operating a temporary food service establishment.

Food from establishments licensed outside of Kentucky
Vendors with food service licenses in Ohio and Indiana often ask about bringing prepared food items in to Northern Kentucky to serve or sell. Out-of-state licensed restaurants need to supply a copy of their operating permit and last regular inspection when applying for a temporary food permit. For more information, contact Ashley McCandless ashley.mccandless@nkyhealth.org or 859-363-2018.

More information

For more information, contact Ashley McCandless ashley.mccandless@nkyhealth.org or 859-363-2018.

Application for a temporary permit: Word, PDF

Food Managers Certification

Food Manager Certification classes will resume in April, 2022. Registrations are now being accepted.

In Northern Kentucky, all food service establishments must have a certified food manager on duty at all times.

The Health Department provides regular food managers certification classes to assist local food service establishments in meeting this requirement.

About the classes

Food manager classes are held at Indiana Wesleyan University, 600 Meijer Drive, Suite 200, Florence, KY, 41042.  A printer-friendly version of class information can be found here.

Schedule and fees

New certification

  • 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, fee $100
  • 3:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, fee $100
  • 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, fee $100

Preparing for the class

Attendees must register in advance by filling out an application. The completed application and payment should be mailed to NKY Health, Attn: Sheila Edwards, 8001 Veterans Memorial Drive, Florence, KY  41042. Once the application has been processed, attendees will receive a confirmation and study guide from the Health Department.

Registration and fees must be completed prior to the date of the class. Applications and fees will not be accepted on the day of the class.  

Attendees are asked to arrive on time. If an attendee is more than 30 minutes late for a class, he/she will need to reschedule and repay the fee.

No lunch hour will be provided. Breaks will be permitted, and vending machines are available.

Once the application has been processed, attendees will receive a confirmation and study guide from the Health Department. Please do not attend a class unless you have received this confirmation.

Attendees are asked to arrive on time. If an attendee is more than 30 minutes late for a class, he/she will need to reschedule and repay the fee.

No lunch hour will be provided. Breaks will be permitted, and vending machines are available.

Study guides

Cancellations/substitutions

  • If cancellation is necessary, you must notify Sheila Edwards at 859-341-4151, ext.2245, at least 24 hours prior to class in order to reschedule or send a substitute. Please leave a message during weekends or after hours. Failure to do so will result in a forfeiture of the class and associated fees. In such cases, applicants must reapply and repay the fee.
  • Please do not send a substitute unless you have notified this office with their information and who they will be replacing.
  • Additionally, please do not attend a class unless you have received a confirmation and study guide from the health department regarding the date and class you are to attend.

Substitute certification

This certification is available for food service workers who have successfully completed food safety training that meets the Health Department’s requirements within the last three years. This may include ServSafe, State Food Safety and the National Registry of Certified Food Professionals.  Substitute certifications are only provided for manager training and are not provided for handler training.  If approved, your Northern Kentucky Health Department certification will expire 3 years after your original certification was issued.

Please Note: Most online courses for food manager’s certification are NOT accepted by the Health Department.

More information

For questions, or to verify if your food safety certification training meets the Health Department requirements as substitute training, please contact Sheila Edwards Sheila.Edwards@nkyhealth.org or call 859-341-4151 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For a printer-friendly version of this information, click here.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets provide a venue where local vendors can sell their produce and other farm-based manufactured products directly to the public. Most markets are open during certain hours in the summer and fall months.

The Health Department interacts with local farmers markets in two main ways: Food safety regulation and through the WIC program.

Food safety

The Health Department helps to ensure that items sold at Northern Kentucky markets are safe and wholesome.

Most farmers market vendors do not need food permits issued from the local health department; however, vendors selling processed food, providing samples, selling meat products or preparing food at the market may require a permit. For questions about specific situations, please contact the Health Department nkywebmaster@nkyhealth.org or 859-341-4151

Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s farmers market resources

Emergency Guidelines

Emergencies relating to food safety bring new challenges to the food systems of today.  The food industry, scientists, and regulatory agencies have developed expertise in protecting the food supply from unintentional contamination.

The challenge faced is to build upon the food safety systems already in place by ensuring timely implementation of risk reduction practices.  It is the intent of these guidelines to provide direction and preparedness to respond to an event, and by having plans in place to quickly recover after an incident.

Food industry employees along with regulators must be able to ensure a rapid response to food safety emergencies to protect food safety and public safety.  Often these events involve close coordination with the Health Department.

This guideline is for food industry employees to be used as a reference in dealing with some of the common emergencies that can affect food safety.

View the guidelines here: Emergency Guidelines for Food Service Establishments.

Food Service Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are some common questions related to food service operations.

I already have a food establishment permit for this year. How do I renew it for next year?
Food permits are good for the calendar year. Existing food establishments should automatically get a renewal application, typically in the fall.

I’m opening my restaurant late in the year. Is the permit fee pro-rated?
Unfortunately, food permit fees (see above) are not pro-rated.

How long can my temporary food permit last?
Temporary food establishment permits (see above) may only last for 14 days. If you would like to operate a temporary food establishment for longer, you must either apply for a permanent permit or close for 30 days and then re-open with a new temporary permit. Please also note that temporary food permit applications and fees must be submitted at least three business days prior to operation.

I would like to open a food-based business in my home. What should I do?
Learn more about requirements for home-based food businesses (see above).

An emergency has impacted my food service establishment. What should I do?
Learn more about emergency guidelines for food service establishments (see above).

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