Retail & Wholesale Food Establishments

Food Service

Food service establishments are regulated by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), Food and Consumer Safety Section (FCSS).  The Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) for each food program are established by DPHHS but enforced by individual counties. 

Registered Sanitarians (RS) from CCHD Environmental Health Services (EHS) license and inspect food service establishments in Cascade County.  Establishments that serve food directly to the consumer fall under Retail Food rules.  Establishments that manufacture food and/or distribute food to retail establishments fall under Wholesale Food rules.  Cottage Food Purveyors and Temporary Food Establishments are retail food but are permitted differently than conventional establishments. 

Retail Food Establishments

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) puts out a model Food Code every four years.  The Food Code provides food safety guidance based on current scientific data.  States can choose to adopt these rules, wholly or partially.  Montana has adopted the 2013 Food Code with a few modifications.  Sanitarians license and inspect Retail Food Establishments based on these rules.  

Retail Food Establishments (RFE) in Cascade County are generally inspected 1-2 times per year.  Low risk facilities usually have one routine inspection, while high risk facilities usually have two.  Risk categories are based on the types of food served, the types of cooking processes, the clients served, and inspection history.  For example, a convenience store that only sells commercially prepared packaged foods would be low risk, while a full-service restaurant that prepares raw animal foods using complex cooking processes would be high risk. 

During an inspection, Sanitarians take food temperatures, test sanitizer concentrations, observe handwashing, review illness policies, verify food-contact surfaces are properly cleaned and sanitized, make sure food is properly stored and handled to prevent cross contamination (especially when they handle raw animal products), determine if there is a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) and inspect dozens of other aspects of the facility. Risk Factors are high risk items that can directly cause a foodborne illness or outbreak, such as not adequately cooking chicken or not cleaning and sanitizing cutting boards when switching from raw meat to vegetables.  Risk Factor violations must be immediately corrected to ensure food being served is safe. Good Retail Practices are lower risk items that are less likely to cause a foodborne illness, such as equipment maintenance and proper storage of utensils. More time is allowed to fix these items, as they should not be an immediate health hazard. Follow-up Inspections are done when violations can’t be corrected during the inspection. Sanitarians typically follow up in 3-10 days, depending on the violation. Imminent health hazards, such as a foodborne illness outbreaks, may require a facility to discontinue operation. The health hazard must be resolved to the satisfaction of the health department before a facility may operate again.   

For more information Retail Food rules and inspections, click the links below or call CCHD Environmental Health Services at 454-6950.

Online Inspection Results—Complete report is not displayed, only violations

RFE Inspection Form

DPHHS Food and Consumer Safety Section—Retail Food Establishments

FDA 2013 Food Code

Montana Codes Annotated (MCA)—Retail Food Statute

Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM)—Retail Food Establishments

DPHHS Online Consumer Complaint—Complaints are forwarded to CCHD for investigation

Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide

Wholesale Food Establishments

Wholesale Food Establishments are regulated and inspected similar to Retail Food Establishments, with a few exceptions.  Wholesale establishments can operate under one or more jurisdictions; Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montanan Department of Agriculture (MDA), or Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).  DOL regulates meat and dairy products.  MDA regulates unprocessed produce.  DPHHS regulates food manufacturing and warehouses. 

Wholesale Food Establishments regulated by DPHHS are licensed by county Sanitarians but must also submit food processing plans and package labeling examples to DPHHS FCSS for review.  Some processing activities require specialized training and/or review of the products by a Process Authority.  Once licensed, Wholesale establishments are inspected like a Retail establishment. 

For more information Wholesale Food rules and inspections, click the links below or call CCHD Environmental Health Services at 454-6950.

Online Inspection Results—Complete report is not displayed, only violations

WFE Inspection Form

DPHHS Online Consumer Complaint—Complaints are forwarded to CCHD for investigation