Environmental Health Food FAQs


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.

If I want to operate a food delivery service do I need a permit?

No. Food delivery services include any individual whose sole purpose is to pick up food from a permitted establishment and deliver to a customer. This individual does not provide any food products, single service utensils or other food related items (i.e, condiments etc).

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

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.

Food Handler Diagnosed with illnesses from the "Big Six" pathogens cannot work in a food service operation while they are sick. What are the "Big Six"?

Shigella Spp.
Salmonela Typhi
Nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS)
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), also known as E. coli
Hepatitis A

The FDA has identified four types of bacteria that cause severe illness and are highly contagious, what are they?

Salmonella Typhi
Nontyphoidal Salmonella
Shigella spp.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli

New and Remodeled Food Establishment Construction

How to begin the plan review process

Prior to construction or remodeling of a food service establishment, the Board of Health Office must complete a plan review process


  • To initiate a plan review process, you must complete and submit the following items:
  • New or Remodeled Food Service Establishment Construction Plan Review Application
  • A copy of your menu or list of foods for sale or service
  • Floor plan of proposed establishment and/or remodeling changes drawn to scale
  • Equipment specifications including refrigeration units dimensions, make and model number
  • If the establishment utilizes a septic system and/or well or public water system, approval has been obtained to use the sewage system and/or water supply


Plan Review Facts

In order to conduct a complete plan review, all of the above items must be submitted. The plan review process will not begin until Health Department receives all of the above items. A The plan review process may take from 2 to 3 weeks. During this process, an Environmental Health Specialist will assess the proposed operation and determine if it is in compliance with Nevada State Law. You may be contacted for more information about the proposal. Sometimes, it is necessary to make changes to your plans. These changes will be discussed with you prior to approval being granted. Remember that it is much easier to make changes in the planning stage than after construction has begun. For this reason, construction cannot begin until you receive the approval certificate.

Approval to begin construction

Once your plans have been reviewed and approved, an Environmental Health Specialist from DPBH will send you a letter that your proposal has been approved. When you receive the approval letter, you may begin construction of your facility pending all other applicable agency approvals.

Once the construction has been completed

When construction is completed, it is up to the owner/operator of the establishment to contact your local field office to schedule a pre-operating inspection. Plan to contact the inspector at least two weeks prior to your desired opening date to schedule this inspection.

What to expect at pre-opening inspection?

An Environmental health Specialist will conduct your pre-operating inspection as scheduled by you. On the day of the inspection, your establishment should have the following completed:
1. Construction debris removed.
2. All hand sinks stocked with soap, paper towels and waste receptacle.
3. Tempered hot and cold running water under pressure must be provided to all required plumbing fixtures.
3. Thoroughly clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces, refrigerators, freezers, cooking and hot-holding equipment.
4. Thoroughly clean all non-food contact surfaces.
5. Clean and sanitize ice machines and ice bins. (After sanitizing, run several batches of ice through the ice machine and discard these batches).
6. Thermometers must be available in all refrigerators and freezers.
7. Metal-stem thermometers measuring from 0-220 degrees F must be available for monitoring cooking, and hot/cold holding temperatures.
8. Ensure all cold holding and hot holding equipment is operating properly. All cold and hot holding equipment should be turned on and cooled or heated to the proper temperature prior to the inspection. There must not be any food present during this inspection.
9. Sanitizer and Sanitizer buckets must be present in the establishment

On the day of the scheduled inspection, if the above items are not completed or you are not ready to operate, call to reschedule your inspection.

Approval to operate

If all the requirements have been met and all equipment is functioning properly, the establishment will be approved to operate pending approval by all other jurisdictional authorities. It will take 7-10 days to receive your permit by mail.

Hazards Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plans

What is a HACCP Plan?

It is a written plan that defines/states the procedures for maintaining control of potentially hazardous foods at the critical control points (CCP) of food preparation or processing.

Why is a HACCP plan needed?

"The principles of HACCP embody the concept of active managerial control by encouraging participation in a system that ensures foodborne illness risk factors are controlled." [An excerpt from the FDA's CFSAN guideline, "Managing Food Safety: A Manual for the Voluntary Use of HACCP Principles for Operators of Food Service and Retail Establishments", best sums up why a HACCP plan is a good idea!

Who must have a HACCP plan

If a food establishment engages in a "special process" of food preparation that may include reduce oxygen packaging (ROP), and sous vide cooking, smoking for preservation, curing with nitrates or nitrites, acidification to prolong shelf-life, custom processing of animals, or maintaining a live holding tank of shellfish. Ask you local field office if this applies to your operation. Plans must be approved before service begins.

When is a HACCP plan required to be updated.

HACCP plans must be updated every time there is a menu change or a change in food processes or procedures that changes a CCP. For example, if soup used to be received commercially prepared, but now it is made from "scratch" on site, the HACCP plan will change. HACCP plans are valid for five (5) years if no changes have been made or sooner if regulations change that impact the permissible critical limits.

Where should a HACCP plan be kept?

A copy of the HACCP plan must be kept in the food preparation areas at all times. It is a good idea to have another copy in an office area in case the original becomes damaged. All employees handling food must know the location of the HACCP plan and how to use it.

What are the HACCP steps?

1. Contact a hazard analysis.
2. Determine the Critical Control Points.
3. Establish Critical Limits.
4. Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP.
5. Establish corrective actions.
6. Establish procedures for verification to confirm the system is working.
7. Establish records for documentation purposes.

What is a HACCP hazard?

HACCP applies to all types of safety hazards, including physical, chemical and microbiological, and allergen hazards. If any of these are not carefully controlled then food products may become contaminated and unsafe for the consumer to eat.

What is a critical control point?

HACCP critical control point is a stage in the HACCP process where it has been identified that control measures are needed in order to eliminate or reduce a hazard. A ‘critical limit’ is then established and, if reached, preventative action is guaranteed to be implemented.

What is a critical limit?

A critical limit is the maximum or minimum value needed for the control measure at a Critical Control Point in order to prevent, eliminate or reduce a food safety hazard to an acceptable level. Critical Limits separate safe production from unsafe production and establishing them is principle 3 of HACCP.

What are examples of HACCP control measures?

A control measure is an action that helps to eliminate or prevent a food safety hazard, or reduce it to an acceptable level. Examples include thorough cooking, metal detection, sieving and filtration, use of approved supplied, planned equipment maintenance the segregation of raw, ready-to-eat and allergenic foods.

Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act

Why was the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act passed

The Act was passed in order to protect the public from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke, is a combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe and the smoke exhaled by smokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, many of which are known to cause cancer in humans.

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a comprehensive report stating that there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.

Where is smoking prohibited?

Smoking tobacco in any form is prohibited within indoor places of employment including, but not limited to the following: child care facilities, movie theaters, video arcades, government buildings, public places, malls and retail establishments, all areas of grocery stores, all indoor areas within restaurants. Without any exception smoking tobacco in any form is prohibited within school buildings and on school property.

If my business is not listed above, does the Act apply?

Smoking in all indoor places of employment is prohibited, unless the business is specifically exempted by the Act.

Where is smoking allowed?

Smoking tobacco is NOT prohibited in:
(a) Areas within casinos where loitering by minors is already prohibited by state
law pursuant to NRS 463.350;
(b) Completely enclosed areas with stand-alone bars, taverns and saloons in which
patrons under 21 years of age are prohibited from entering;
(c) Age-restricted stand-alone bars, taverns and saloons;
(d) Strip clubs or brothels;
(e) Retail tobacco stores;
(f) The area of a convention facility in which a meeting or trade show is being
held, during the time the meeting or trade show is occurring, if the meeting or
trade show:
(1) Is not open to the public;
(2) Is being produced or organized by a business relating to tobacco or a
professional association for convenience stores; and
(3) Involves the display of tobacco products; and
(g) Private residences, including private residences which may serve as an office
workplace, except if used as a child care, an adult day care or a health care

Do business have to "No Smoking" signs?

"No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol shall be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this section. Each public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited shall post, at every entrance, a conspicuous sign clearly stating that smoking is prohibited. All ashtrays and other smoking paraphernalia shall be removed from any area where smoking is prohibited.

If a "No Smoking" sign is not posted can I smoke?

No. If you are a smoker, your main responsibility is that of awareness. Before you light up or move about while smoking, check to see if smoking is prohibited. Since signs must be conspicuously posted, it should be easy to determine if you are in a smoking-prohibited area. If signs are not posted ask the person in charge or an employee at the location.

Can a business allow smoking during certain times of the day?

No. The NCIAA states: "Smoking tobacco in any form is prohibited within indoor places of employment. There are not provisions for allowing smoking, at any time in prohibited locations.

How will the law be enforced?

Compliance with the ban is the responsibility of the owner, manager or operator of an area where smoking is prohibited. A reasonable effort to prevent smoking should be made by this individual or group of individuals. Health authorities, police officers of cities or towns, sheriffs and their deputies shall, within their respective jurisdictions, enforce the provisions of the ban and shall issue citations for violations of the ban.

What is smoking related paraphernalia?

Ashtrays or any items being used as an ashtray (e.g., beer bottles, coffee mugs, discarded trash, etc.) are considered smoking-related paraphernalia and must be removed from any area where smoking is prohibited. Merchants may still sell tobacco products.

Who do I contact to complaint about smoking violations?

Please contact the Environmental Health Section at 775-687-7533.

How an I learn about Tobacco Prevention and Control in Nevada?

See the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health "Tobacco Prevention and Control Program" see website at dpbh.nv.gov or call 775-684-4261.