Food Service Establishment Licensing

A plan review procedure and/or permit application is required of all new food services. The categories listed below are licensing options we have available to us by existing laws and ordinances.

Permanent Establishments

These food service establishments have a state license to operate in Cascade County.

Examples include:

  • Restaurants, or a restaurant/caterer
  • Grocery stores
  • Bars or taverns

These facilities meet all food service regulations to allow them to operate safely year round. Off-site catering is dependent on the licensed facility for food preparation and clean up. Catered functions have pre-arranged menus for a set number of people at a set time.

If you’d like to obtain a permanent establishment license for a new or remodeled facility, you must go through the PLAN REVIEW process. The first step in the process is to contact the CCHD Environmental Health Division early on- we can walk you through the process and send you a complete plan review packet. To get started, you can also download the Plan Review application here.

Mobile Food Service Units

These food services are equipped to be self-contained with on-board equipment, storage, and clean up facilities. This state license allows them to travel anywhere in MT to operate if they can do so without a commissary. They must be able to take on potable water and dispose of wastewater in an approved manner. They are allowed to operate on a year round basis if feasible (freezing weather can affect plumbing).

City-County Health Department requires moving daily to service their mobile unit to ensure that enough water will be available for operating in a safe, sanitary manner. If not moved daily, the mobile units are considered permanent and the on-board wastewater holding tanks in permanent facilities are in violation of Cascade County wastewater regulations.

Mobile Unit Guidelines:

If you’d like to obtain this license, you must go through the Mobile Unit Plan Review Process- call our office for more information and download the Mobile Unit Plan Review application here

Temporary Food Service

 Anytime food or open beverages are served to the public for a temporary event (one lasting less than 14 consecutive days), regardless of whether there is a charge for the food, state law requires a state food license. This includes providing samples. There are specific exemptions from licensure for non-profit organizations and certain foods at Farmers’ Markets (MCA 50-50-102-103 and MCA 50-5-202). To help decide if you are a licensable TFS, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I serving food or beverages to the public?
  • Am I serving food that is either unpackaged or requires refrigeration?
  • Am I a restaurant operator or a food manufacturer that intends to serve food at a location other than my licensed facility?
  • Am I a licensed caterer serving food without a contract between parties in place for a pre-determined amount of food and cost for a pre-determined number of people with a specific serving time? In other words, is my food service at a temporary event/festival with continuous service to anyone passing by?
  • Am I planning a food service event at my licensed bar that is only approved for beverages and prepackaged goods?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you must complete a TFS License plan review and obtain a TFS License from the state through Cascade County sanitarians (406-454-6950).

Are there any TFS license exemptions? Yes.

  • As noted above, a non-profit organization providing food exclusively for charitable purposes is exempt from licensure. They must still contact the health department to register their event on forms provided by the health department, but are not required to obtain a temporary state license and they are limited to 14 calendar days per year.
  • A licensed caterer with a contractual agreement for a set amount of food with a private entity at a specific function does not require an additional temporary food service license.
  • Persons providing only commercially pre-packaged non-potentially hazardous foods that remain packaged and do not require refrigeration are exempt. Examples of these itmes include wrapped candy, bottled water, cans of pop, individually commercially pre-wrapped baked goods from a licensed manufacturer, etc.

To download the Temporary Food Service License application click here.

Food Manufacturing

A Wholesale Food Manufacturing Establishment is defined in 50-57-102, Montana Codes Annotated (MCA) as a facility and the facility’s buildings or structures used to manufacture or prepare food for human consumption at wholesale. Visit DPHHS for more information.