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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Food Protection Program

Food Protection Program
401 5th Ave, Suite 1100 | Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-263-9566; Toll-free: 800-325-6165, ext. 3-9566

The Food Protection Program reviews and approves construction plans for retail food establishments in King County; such as restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, school cafeterias and mobile food vehicles. The Food Protection Program also reviews applications for farmer's markets, temporary food booths as well as feeding programs for the needy.

NOTICE

Our Public Health – Seattle & King County food inspectors continue to work in a cooperation with all restaurants in King County. Together, we are a partner with you in providing safe food to the public. Once every couple of years however, there is a rash of incidents involving individuals that are claiming that they are health inspectors when they are not. If you do not recognize your health inspector, ALWAYS ask them for their King County identification. This is especially true now, since all of the inspections areas were rotated at the beginning of 2014, so you should be seeing a new inspector.

This is also permit renewal season. Food permits are valid from April 1st through the following March 31st of each year. You may pay your new permit fee either by:

  • logging on to Public Health's portal system (www.kingcounty.gov/health/portal),
  • mailing in the renewal notice and a check, or
  • paying in person at one of our Environmental Health offices (Downtown Seattle Office – 405 - 5th Avenue, Suite 1100 Seattle, WA 98104 or the Eastgate Office - 14350 SE Eastgate Way Bellevue WA 98007).

Food Worker Cards may be obtained online at www.foodworkercard.wa.gov.

If you have any questions please contact us at either 206-263-9566 (Seattle Office) or 206-296-9791 (Bellevue Office).

Types of food establishments

Select a type of food establishment that best describes your business to learn more about how to obtain a food business permit:

Permanent food establishment
A permanent food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days.

Temporary Food Establishments
A temporary food business is an establishment operating at a fixed location for not more than twenty-one (21) consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration or operating not more than 3 days a week in conjunction with a recurring organized event.

Mobile Food Establishments
Mobile Food Establishments include food carts, trailers, and trucks as well as food kiosks. Before constructing, remodeling, or changing ownership; mobile food establishment owners must submit plans for review and approval.

Catering and home-based food establishments
Catering and home-based food businesses need a food service permit to legally prepare and serve food as hired prior to private parties and events in King County.

Farmers Markets

Wine and distillery tasting rooms

Other types of food establishments

Cottage Food and Wholesale food operations are regulated by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture.

Food operations and bake sales that do not need permits (food exemptions)

Food worker cards

Food Worker Card class and test
All employees of a food establishment including cooks, bartenders, servers, hosts, bus persons, etc. are required to obtain a Washington State Food Worker Card. You can take the class and test conveniently online or go to any of our in-person classes.

Meat Cutter license
If your job requires the cutting of fresh beef, veal, lamb and/or pork within a meat establishment you will need to pass an exam to obtain a personal occupational Meat Cutter license in addition to the Food Worker Card exam.

Additional resources

Get Food Business email updates
As a subscriber, you'll get an email alerting you of significant information posted to this page.

See complete list of food business fees

For food service operators and employees: Read the Menu Review 2011 (PDF)