Environmental Health Food FAQs

General

What do I need to do to open a new food establishment?

Visit the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC), Chapter 446 to obtain regulation information regarding food establishments in Nevada. Complete the Permit to Operate and Supplemental Food Establishment Application. A plan review may be required for your facility. Call one of our field offices to ask about specifics for your facility. See "Locations" page for more information.

Can I operate a food stand or food cart on a regular basis?

No. A food stand or cart can only be operated on a regular basis in a facility that meets the requirements of NAC 446.946 "Portable Units for Service of Food."  A food stand or cart may be operated as a temporary food establishment in conjunction with a special event lasting up to 14 days.  Please see the Temporary Food Establishment information page for additional information and fees.

Do I need a grease interceptor for a new food establishment?

If the food establishment generates grease, a grease interceptor is required.  If the establishment does not generate grease, a letter from the regulating authority that states a grease interceptor is not required must accompany the plan documents.

Do I need a temporary food permit for a special event if I am only selling prepackaged foods and I offer samples?

Yes. When samples are offered to the public, a permit is required. Please see the Temporary Food Establishment information page for additional information and fees.

How do I resolve disputes regarding regulation requirements for my food facility? [Variance Process]

Any person who, because of unique circumstances or is unduly burdened by a regulation of the State Board of Health and thereby suffers a hardship and the abridgement of a substantial property right may apply for a variance from a regulation (NAC 439.200)

The State Board of Health will grant a variance from a regulation only if it finds from the evidence presented at the hearing that:

(a)There are circumstances or conditions which:
1. Are unique to the applicant;
2. Do not generally affect other persons subject to the regulation;
3. Make compliance with the regulation unduly burdensome; and
4. Cause a hardship to and abridge a substantial property right of the applicant; and

(b) Granting the Variance:
1. Is necessary to render substantial justice to the applicant and enable him to preserve and enjoy his property; and
2. Will not be detrimental or pose a danger to public health and safety.

If I am a Personal Chef do I need a health permit?

Personal chefs include individuals contracted to prepare and serve food at a private party or for a single household utilizing privately owned, onsite equipment and who do not prepare food prior to the event. Personal chefs do not fall under the division’s regulation.

Can I run a catering business out of my home?

No. Nevada law prohibits the operation of the food establishment in a private home or in a room used as living or sleeping quarters as provided in NRS 446.020 and 446.870.

Can I operate my catering business out of a church kitchen?

Yes. You can operate a catering business out of a church kitchen if the kitchen meets the minimum requirements of the Food Code and the operator can demonstrate control of the food production areas while using the kitchen. The kitchen must be permitted facility by a regulated health authority. You must conduct your catering operations separate from church-related food service operations and restrict kitchen access to only those personnel working for you. The division cannot license food service operations conducted by a church or religious organization for its members and associates.

Do I need a catering license if I run my business from a restaurant my friend owns?

Yes. Separate, independent caterers using the equipment or premises of a licensed establishment are deemed operators (as defined by NAC 446.0122) of such public food service establishment and subject to all applicable requirements of law and rule. We strongly recommend you include a facility agreement with your license if this is the case. The facility agreement should include the facility license number of the restaurant and a brief explanation stating that you are using an existing licensed establishment to operate your catering business.

Will I need to go through a plan review with the Environmental Health Section if I use the facilities of an establishment licensed by another health jurisdiction?

Yes. Since the establishment has not been licensed by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health a plan review is required.

Can I use my catering vehicle to drive around and sell food to the public?

No. Any vehicle operating in this manner must be licensed as a Mobile Food Vehicle.

Do I need a catering license if I already hold a current food service establishment license?

Yes. A current food service establishment license does not serve as a catering license for the operator.

How do I change the location of my catering business?

A catering license is not transferable from one location to another. The caterer must apply for a new license. A plan review may be required for the new location for any of the following reasons:
- Constructing a new food service establishment;
- Converting an existing structure for use as a food establishment;
- Remodeling an existing food service establishment.

Is an operator required to have a Certified Food Manager (CFM) at a food establishment?

As of December 18, 2013 the new Food Establishment regulation requires that there be a person in charge at the food establishment at all times and further that a person in charge has successfully passed an approved food safety management course or an otherwise demonstrate knowledge of food safety principles to the regulatory authority.

How many restrooms are required in a food establishment?

Information on the number of restrooms in a food establishment can be found in the Nevada Administrative Code, Chapter 446 “Toilets NAC 446.445”

How do I file a complaint?

You may file a complaint by calling your local field office and speaking with an Environmental Health Specialist.

When should I file a complaint?

It's best to contact us as soon as possible after the incident or event occurred. This allows us to retrieve and review records and documents easily. You're also most likely to remember important facts and circumstances soon after the incident and less likely to forget details.

Who may file a complaint?

Anyone with knowledge about an incident or event.

What details should I have available for the complaint?

Your name and how to contact you (phone number, mailing address, e-mail address). You may request to remain anonymous. We request this information so we may contact you if we need more information.

• Where the incident happened – the type and name of the facility, where in the facility the incident happened (room number, unit, service area).
• The date the incident happened and names of staff or other people involved in the incident or who saw or heard the incident.
• Details about the incident. Include the reasons for your complaint and what you want the department to do about your complaint. Be specific about what happened to you, what you saw or heard, the time or part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night) and other information you feel is important. Give as much information as you can. If possible, include the name, address and phone number of each person who saw or heard the incident.

What is the process for a complaint?

When we receive a complaint about a facility, we review it to decide if the incident or event is a violation of a law or rule. Next we determine if we have legal authority to investigate the facility. When these two conditions are met, we open a complaint file, notify the complainant and conduct an investigation. If these two conditions are not met, we do not document the complaint.

Most investigations consist of going to the facility, reviewing records, reviewing the facility's policies and procedures, reviewing any facility documents related to the incident, interviewing staff and depending on the incident observing staff. We collect all the appropriate information, including notes made during the visit and write a report of our findings. When we identify violations of law or rule we consult with management and facility program experts on the best approach to resolve the violations. Once we reach a decision on how to resolve the violations, the facility is informed. We also document the complainant regarding what our investigation found and what actions we took to resolve any violations.

How long will it take to resolve my complaint?

The time will vary depending on the nature of the complaint and the complexity of the case. Investigations may take as little as a few hours or, in some cases, a few weeks more. We spend as much time as necessary to thoroughly investigate each complaint. We ask your patience as we deal with the many legal and health issues involved.

Is there a time limit to file a complaint?

No. There is no statutory time limit for filing a complaint. Our experience is after 12 to 18 months staff change, specific details are more difficult to recall and information necessary to review is no longer be available at the facility. The lack of information and involved staff to interview, we may not be able to confirm whether a violation occurred.

May I make a complaint without giving my name?

Yes. We don't need a name when conducting an investigation. Our practice is not to tell the facility the name of the complainant. This effectively keeps the complainant anonymous. However, our investigation reports and findings are publicly available and may be required to disclose the complainant name at that time.

What happens if the facility doesn't respond to the DPBH about my complaint?

Failing to cooperate with an investigation is a violation of the law. The department can take action to deny, modify or suspend the license.

Reporting a foodborne illness

Who do I call regarding a Food borne Illness Complaints that originate inside of the State of Nevada?

Call your local field office to report any illness related to food or water. It may take several hours for our staff to return your call.

What is foodborne illness?

Foodborne illness is often called food poisoning. It occurs when someone becomes ill after eating a food or drinking a beverage contaminated with a harmful substance.

What causes foodborne illness?

Not all foodborne illnesses are the same. It occurs when food is contaminated with a harmful substance, such as bacteria, virus, parasites, natural toxins, or chemicals.

Some substances cause illness within minutes, while others take several hours, days or even weeks. For example, Salmonella bacteria usually take 12-72 hours after ingestion to cause illness. So remember, it’s not always the last food eaten that caused illness. The food that caused the illness may actually have been eaten several days before the illness began.

Symptoms of foodborne illness:

Common Symptoms  Frequent Symptoms Unusual Symptoms
Vomiting Fever                    Irregular Heartbeat
Diarrhea Headache Flushing of skin
Nausea Chills Difficulty Breathing
Abdominal Cramps Muscle Aches Paralysis
    Dizziness

Foodborne illness is not always the cause for vomiting or diarrhea. If you share a meal with someone and you both get sick, it’s likely that you are both suffering from a foodborne illness.

However, the more time you spend with another person, such as sharing the same residence or workplace, the more likely it is that you will both be exposed to the same illness. Many gastrointestinal illnesses, especially those that are viral, are not caused by food or drink.

People who work as food/beverage handlers should not handle food to be served to the public if they have specific foodborne illness symptoms or if they have been diagnosed with any illness that can be transmitted through food or food handling.

What should I do if I suspect I have a foodborne illness?

You should consult your health care provider for advice on whether medical treatment is necessary. Many foodborne illnesses are short-lived and people recover without any medical treatment. However, it’s always wise to consult a health care provider if you are concerned about the seriousness of your illness. Young children, the elderly and people with poor immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness. If you see a health care provider, you may be asked to provide a stool specimen for testing. Most commercial laboratories can identify bacterial and parasitic pathogens. There are no approved commercial laboratory tests for most viral pathogens or for chemicals and toxins.

How do I report a foodborne or suspected foodborne illness?

If you believe your illness was caused by eating at a commercial food establishment (restaurant, deli or caterer) contact the Division of Public and Behavioral Health field office near you or the Office of Public Health Informatics and Epidemiology at (775) 684-5911 or the 24-hour Duty-Officer (775) 400-0333. Please provide your contact information, so an investigator can follow-up if more information is required.

If you believe your illness was caused by eating prepackaged foods that were manufactured outside of Nevada, call the FDA at 1 (510) 337-6741. For Help with Non-Meat Food Products (Cereals, Fish, Produce, Fruit Juice, Pastas, Cheeses, etc): For complaints about food products which do not contain meat or poultry — such as cereal — call or write to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition can be reached at 1-888-723-3366.

If you believe your illness was caused by eating meat, poultry and egg products you purchased at a federally inspected establishments and prepared at home, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or report the complaint online.

When you call, be prepared to answer some questions. The interview may take 10-15 minutes to complete. You will be asked to provide details about the ill person(s), what they ate during the 72 hours before getting ill, and the symptoms they are experiencing. You will be asked to describe the symptoms, when they started, how long they lasted, and if you were seen by a health care provider. You may also be asked about recent travel, pet ownership and exposure to drinking and recreational water.

Note: If you have questions or concerns about your health you should consult your health care provider.

Will I have to give my name?

You will be asked to give your name and the names, addresses and phone numbers of all ill people. You are not required to give your name. However, the more information you provide, the easier it will be for the Environmental Health Specialist to complete the necessary follow-up and investigation. All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential. Identity of the person making the report and any ill persons will not be disclosed to others, including the environmental health specialist sent to inspect the facility, the food establishment or to any one else without your permission.

What happens after I file my complaint?

If the complaint meets the Division of Public and Behavioral Health’s suspect outbreak definition the division employs the environmental health specialists who go out to the establishment to conduct an inspection.

The inspector will review their food handling practices, including how the foods you consumed were handled and prepared. Corrective action will be taken on any food facility that is practicing food handling practices that facilitate foodborne illness spread.
Last Updated: 6/3/2015