Food Control Section
The Food Control Section licenses and regulates over 5,000 food facilities in Baltimore City. Its mission is to ensure that all food sold and served is safe for consumption. Under Health Code Section 6-101(c), a food service facility means any place in which, with or without charge:
- Food is prepared for sale or service on the premises or elsewhere; or
- Food is manufactured, processed, stored, packaged, handled, distributed, or sold.
- Beverages (non-alcoholic); and
- Chewing gum or any substance used as component of chewing gum. HE §6-101(b)(2),(3)
Examples of businesses we license and inspect:
- Grocery store
- Mobile food carts
- Market stalls
- Public and private schools
- Special event food vendors
- Day care centers
- Summer camps
- Church kitchens
How do I open a new food establishment, or change ownership of an existing food establishment?
- Apply for a Use and Occupancy Permit from the Department of Planning, 417 East Fayette Street. Keep the receipt you receive when you submit the application.
- If you are building a new facility or making structural changes to an existing facility:
- Apply for a building permit, and
- Submit construction plans to the department of planning.
- These plans will be forwarded to the health department for review. The health department will alert you to any changes that need to be made to the plan. After approval of plans from all relevant agencies, a building permit will be issued and construction may begin.
- If you are not building a new facility or making major structural changes, it is recommended that you bring an informal layout of your facility to the health department, including locations of all equipment, walls, doors, toilets, sinks, etc. The plan review supervisor will review this layout and make suggestions to help ensure a successful final inspection.
- If the business involves any alcoholic beverages, apply for a liquor license from the Board of Liquor License Commissioners, located at 10 South Street, Room 200.
- Once all relevant steps listed above are completed, visit the Bureau of Environmental Health front counter, located at 1001 E. Fayette St. You must have with you:
- The Use and Occupancy receipt, and
- $150 plan review fee
- At this time you will receive an information packet detailing all the materials you will need to submit to obtain a food license. (Tip: The Plan Review fee includes two on-site inspections. If you wish, you may schedule an inspection before or during construction to verify compliance. Final inspection shall occur only after the completion of construction.)
- While awaiting approval of building permit or completion of construction:
- Begin preparing your menu, recipe(s) and HACCP plan according to guidelines in the information packet (click here to see guidelines).
- Obtain Certified Food Manager Certification for yourself or a staff-member (all food facilities are required to have one certified food manager)
- Once construction is complete, you may schedule an inspection of your facility. If your facility passes inspection, you will receive an approval notice from a department environmental sanitarian.
Documents Required to Obtain a License
All of the below documents must be brought with you to obtain your food license:
- Completed Food License Application
- Approval notice from a department environmental sanitarian
- All Food Service Plan Review requirements (Click here to see requirements.)
- Menu and
- HACCP plan
- Food Service Manager's Certificate (food managers must be certified within 90 days of employment)
- Original contract with a licensed pest control company
- Certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation if owner is a corporation. It should have the charter/trade name from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, located at 301 W. Preston St., Room 809, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Tel: 410-767-1330)
- Workman's Compensation Insurance information
- Any person representing the owners when obtaining the food license must bring a notarized Power of Attorney.
- All handwritten documents should be notarized (not including menu and list of food equipment)
When modifying the structure, equipment, layout, menu or food preparation and handling procedures at an existing food establishment:
- Notify the health department of any of the above modifications, even minor ones by calling the plan review supervisor at 410-396-4544. The plan review supervisor will let you know if your planned modifications will require a building permit and/or plan review and reinspection.
- If a building permit is necessary, you may apply and submit plans to the department of planning, 417 East Fayette Street.
- If plan review and reinspection is necessary, you must submit plans prior to the commencement of work or the institution of the change. (Click here to see the Food Service Facility Plan Review Requirements). Bring all plans and the $150 plan review fee to the health department at 1001 E. Fayette St.
(Tip: The Plan Review fee includes two on-site inspections. If you wish, you may schedule an inspection before or during construction to verify compliance. Final inspection shall occur only after the completion of construction)
- Once the building permit is issued, or the plans are reviewed and approved, modification work may commence.
- After modifications are complete, schedule a final inspection of the modified facility. If the facility passes inspection, you will receive a notice of approval for the changes, and may resume operations.