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Larry L. Leitch, M.A.,M.P.A.
Health Officer
Henry G. Taylor,M.D.,M.P.H
Deputy Health Officer
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Carroll County Health Department - Carroll County Maryland
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Community Hygiene - Food Service Facilities

The Bureau licenses and inspects all food service facilities within the county. This includes commercial, temporary and excluded facilities.

Commercial Food Service Facilities
Each food service facility is given a priority rating of High, Moderate, or Low depending on the foods served. A High priority facility is one that prepares food items ahead of time, cools food down, reheats and hot holds. There are numerous steps involved, so the risk of a food borne illness occurring increases. A Moderate priority is a facility that cooks and serves food immediately. A Low priority facility is one that sells mostly prepackaged food items.

Annual fees* for the licenses are:

High Priority Facility

$275.00

Moderate Priority Facility

$200.00

Low Priority Facility

$75.00

Temporary Facility**

$25/permit
$15/vendor
* Food Service license renewals are due by December 31st each year for high, moderate, and low priority facilities.

** Charitable organizations are exempt from fees for temporary food licenses and vendors.  Documentation of an organization's charitable status may be required.


We conduct two types of routine inspections. They are:

Comprehensive

The overall cleanliness and sanitation of the facility are evaluated, including the food handling practices, water supply, and sewage disposal system.  A Hazardous Critical Control Point (HACCP) Inspection comprises a portion of this inspection.  The purpose of the HAACP is to ensure that food is handled, cooked, cooled, reheated, and held at the proper temperatures and for the appropriate time frame.

Monitoring

We evaluate all equipment and food handling practices. Also included is the water supply and sewage disposal system.

 

 

A priority assessment determines the minimum number of inspections required. A high priority has three inspections per year (1 Comprehensive and 2 Monitoring), a moderate priority has two inspections per year (1 Comprehensive and 1 Monitoring), and a low priority has one Comprehensive inspection per year.

Inspections cover two categories of problems: Critical Items and Sanitation Items. A copy of our inspection form is below. Critical Items are problems that must be corrected immediately. They include food being improperly cooled, ready to serve food being cross-contaminated, a food worker being ill, improper hand washing, inadequate cooking, food not being held at proper temperatures, food from an unapproved source, spoiled or adulterated food present, safe and adequate hot and cold running water not being available, and the sewage disposal system not working properly.

Sanitation Items identified during the Comprehensive inspection must be corrected within thirty days. They include food not being properly protected, poor worker hygiene, improper storage of toxic/hazardous materials, unsuitable equipment and utensils, poor disposal of trash and garbage, insects/rodents/birds/animals not controlled, plumbing problems, building construction problems and more. A facility may have their license suspended if the sanitation violations are not corrected within that time frame.

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Excluded Food Service Facilities
Excluded food service facilities are volunteer fire companies or other bona fide nonprofit fraternal, civic, veterans, religious, or charitable organizations or corporations that do not serve food to the public more often that 4 days per week. One exception would be that once a year an organization may serve food to the public for up to 14 consecutive days.

Some regulatory standards have been relaxed for excluded organizations. These changes allow equipment that does not meet the design standard of commercial food service facilities. Refrigeration and dishwashing equipment are not included in these exemptions. We do not require that excluded organizations are licensed, but they must be inspected by this department at regular intervals.

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Temporary Food Service Facilities
Temporary food service facilities do just what the name implies, serve food for a short time. This is usually in connection with a special event. Many regulatory standards have been relaxed for these events because they are short term, often involve only non-hazardous foods and usually involve the cooking and immediate serving of the food.

Steps to follow to obtain a temporary food license for a special event are:
  1. A representative of the event must take out a temporary food license.
  2. Vendor forms must be completed for each vendor operating at the event. Please note that licensed food service facilities operating at the event must also complete a vendor form.
  3. All the necessary information must be submitted to this office for review and approval at least one week before the scheduled event.

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Opening or Remodeling a Food Service Facility
If a food service facility wants to open or remodel, following these steps is necessary:
  1. Call our office and speak to a food inspector.
  2. Request a copy of our plan review checklist.
  3. Submit the appropriate plans and paperwork.
  4. Apply for a County building permit, if necessary. We cannot approve it for release until all the plans have been approved.
  5. Contact the inspector for a final inspection.
  6. Remember, call the inspector at any time during this process if you or your contractor have any questions. Please note that the more information you provide, the faster we can complete the plan review process.

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Complaints
Another service offered by this office is the investigation of food service facility complaints. When we receive notice of a problem, the inspector visits the facility to gather information and validate the complaint. Normally people leave their names so the inspector can call them with the results of the investigation. We believe the names of people who bring potential health hazards to our attention should be kept confidential, so we remove any complainant's name from any information given out and never reveal it to the facility involved.

Some complaints result from the belief that someone got sick from eating. If you think you have a food borne illness you should:
  1. Refrigerate or freeze any leftover food immediately.
  2. Contact this office immediately so we can make a site visit and, if needed, take food samples.
  3. Make notes about what you can remember about the meal. Be very specific about when the suspect food was eaten and what time the symptoms started. If you know what other people ate and if they became ill, that information will be helpful. The information you provide may allow us to pinpoint a certain food or how it was prepared as the cause.
  4. Be willing, if need be, to submit to stool samples to determine the cause of illness.
  5. Contact your physician should you have any medical concerns.

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Training
Training is available for all food service facilities. We can tailor this training to the group requesting it and give it at our office or the facility. The training includes proper food handling procedures, proper hand washing, calibration of thermometers, and HACCP.

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Links to Forms and COMAR Food Service Regulations: