Food-safety specialists annually inspect 4,200 permitted food facilities in the county-everything from sit-down restaurants and delis to convenience stores, mobile food trucks, and special event food booths-to ensure they are storing, preparing and handling food in a safe and sanitary way. Environmental Health reviews all construction and remodeling plans to ensure the facilities are built in a manner to promote food safety. Environmental Health also investigates food-poisoning complaints and tries to determine the source of foodborne-illness outbreaks. And when food manufacturers issue recalls, it's up to Environmental Health to audit retailers to verify that contaminated products have been removed from store shelves.
Contra Costa County Environmental Health is responsible for ensuring that all food establishments are operated in compliance with applicable Local, State and Federal regulations. These regulations are intended to guarantee that food will be pure, safe and unadulterated.
- Restaurant/Retail Market
- Mobile Food
- Community Event/Temporary Food Permit
- Cottage Food Operations (CFO)
- Food Safety Resources
- Construction or Remodel
Food safety specialists aim to keep restaurant and food facility proprietors in our area aware and in compliance with the minimum standards for retail food facilities, which are established by the California Retail Food Code (Cal Code).
To reach the goal, we focus our inspection efforts on facilities that may present a greater risk based upon various aspects of the food operation. This approach is called a Risk-Based Inspection Program. Although foodborne illness can happen in any food facility, it is more likely to occur where many different kinds of perishable foods are handled and processed. To concentrate our resources where the highest risks of foodborne illness occur, we have designed a risk-based inspection program that adjusts inspection frequency based upon the volume and types of food handling that take place at food establishments. For food establishments with minimal food handling such as most convenience markets and some coffee shops, we conduct one routine inspection per year. For facilities that have some but not a lot of food handling such as chain-type facilities and bakeries, we conduct two inspections per year. For full service restaurants that have a lot of food handling, we conduct three inspections per year.
During our inspections, Environmental Health Services' staff teach restaurant owners and employees proper food storage and handling, bug and rodent prevention, and also ensures the food being served is unadulterated and from approved sources. Environmental Health Services staff help new restaurant owners get off to a good start (and prevent expensive mistakes) with our facility evaluation and plan review process.
- Thinking of Buying a Food Facility - Read This First
- New Owner Packet
- Plan Review/Construction or Remodel
- Placarding/Grading System
- Production Kitchens
- LICENSED HEALTH CARE FACILITIES
- FARM STANDS
- FARMERS MARKETS
- Incidental Food Facilities (Assembly Bill 2432)
The phrase "Mobile Food Vendor" or "Mobile Food Facility" refers to several different types of vehicles that food is sold from. Some examples include:
- ice cream trucks
- hot dog carts
- churro carts
- frozen meat sales trucks
- sandwich trucks
- hot lunch trucks
All Mobile Food Facilities are required to have a valid permit sticker at all times for the county where food is being sold.
To obtain a permit, the vehicle must meet all requirements, submit a commissary verification form, complete a mobile food facility application, pay the annual permit fee, and pass an inspection.
Vehicles must pass inspection every year to maintain a current permit sticker.
Please Note: Vehicles that do not pass on the first inspection may be required to pay a reinspection fee for additional inspections.
- Prepackaged Mobile Food Facilities
- Food Facility Commissaries
- Unpermitted Vendors - County wide | Spanish
- Unpermitted Vendors - City of Richmond | Spanish
- Vendors without Permit - Community Guide | Spanish
- Immediate Closure
- Mobile Food Facility Comparison Chart
- Mobile Food Facility Application
- Food Facility Storage Agreement
- Outside of County Commissary Agreement
- Mobile Food Facility Checklist
- Operational Procedures
- Restroom Agreement
Frequently Asked Questions
Community Event/Temporary Food Permit
Temporary food facilities at community events often handle large volumes of food with limited physical facilities and equipment, making food safety especially important. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices can spread germs that cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever and, in certain circumstances, death.
A permit to operate a temporary food facility is required before the event may open for business. It is the event coordinator's responsibility to also contact any other agencies, such as State Alcohol Beverage Control Board, Fire Department, City or County Planning Department, or Building Department to obtain permits and approval.
Contra Costa Environmental Health inspects permitted facilities to ensure temporary food establishments operate in a safe and sanitary manner. These inspections ensure that temporary food facilities operate in compliance with local, state and federal regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cottage Food Operations (CFO)
On September 21, 2012, Governor Brown signed into law legislation known as the "Cottage Food Bill" (AB 1616) that became law on January 1, 2013. This bill allows that certain non-potentially hazardous foods can be prepared within and sold from a private home provided certain requirements are met.
See a list of eligible foods.
To get started, click on the Cottage Food Operation Flowchart link below to see if your business qualifies and which category it will fall into. Once you have made a determination, you can download the appropriate application form below. Applications should be submitted with the required documentation and fee by mail or in-person at the Environmental Health Division public service counter.
Food Safety Resources
- Food Handler Card | Spanish | Chinese
- Raw Milk:
- Additional Forms and Hand-Outs:
- Safe Ways to Cool Food
- Catering Guidelines
- Food Safety Handout | Spanish | Chinese
- Notification of Reportable Illness
- Time as a Public Health Control Guidance and Worksheet | TPHC Monitoring Chart
- Dogs in Outdoor Dining Areas
- Norovirus Handout (CDC)
- Illness Reporting Requirements for Foodservice Workers and Persons-in-Charge (CDPH-FDB)
Construction or Remodel