Food Safety Program

The purpose of this program is to prevent the occurrence of foodborne illnesses by promoting the safe preparation, production and service of food in hygienic, properly equipped and maintained food facilities.

Any operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food intended for human consumption to the general public, must be conducted within an approved food facility.

"Food" means a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage, an ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption and chewing gum.

Please feel free to contact Environmental Health Services at 805-781-5544 regarding questions about interim application processing for all food-related programs.

EatSafeSLO provides locations of permitted retail food facilities and links to health inspection results.   

Permanent Food Facilities means a restaurant, bar, retail food market, public and private school cafeteria, catering operation facility, commissary, shared kitchen, farm stand, bed and breakfast establishment, or other fixed location facility where food intended for human consumption is produced and/or provided to the general public. 

New Facility Construction

Prior to beginning construction or remodel, a construction/remodel permit must be issued by Environmental Health Services. 

Please note, additional permitting may be required by the local city or county jurisdiction Planning and Building Department.


Ownership Changes for Currently or Formerly Permitted Permanent Food Facilities

Health permits are nontransferrable.

Whether you are looking to take over ownership of a permanent food facility currently under permit with Environmental Health Services, or buy or lease a food facility which was formerly under permit with Environmental Health Services, then you must obtain a new health permit under your name, or business name, prior to beginning operation.


Dependent Food Service Operation

What is a dependent food service operator? A dependent food service operator is any person or business who engages in a lease or rental agreement with the permit holder of a permitted permanent food establishment, or Shared Permanent Food Facility (SPFF), to use the SPFF to perform food production and/or food service operations to supply food and related services to the general public. 

If you do not have a permanent retail food facility under permit with this Department and you wish to utilize one that another person holds the permit for to be approved to perform your food production or food service operations, then you are a dependent food service operator.

Examples of food service operators who potentially qualify as dependent operator:

  • Operators who provide direct food sales from a permanent food facility for which they are not the permit holder, or from a host facility.
  • Offsite catering operations wherein the operator prepares for off-site catering events at a permanent food facility for which they are not the permit holder.

Additionally the following facility types may be dependent on a a permanent food facility for which they are not the permit holder to obtain permit approval:

  • Mobile Food Facilities (MFF): these are required to report to a commissary daily.
    • A mobile food facility permit holder who is also the commissary permit holder is not considered a dependent operator.
  • Temporary Food Facilities (TFF) (food booth):multiple-event TFF operators may be required to report to an approved SPFF in situations where foods to be served or sold must be prepared in advance of the event.
    • Does not apply to TFF operators who perform all food preparation activities within the food booth during the event.

Shared Permanent Food Facilities

What is a shared permanent food facility (SPFF)? EHS has identified two general types of permanent food facilities that may be approved to share their facilities whereby a dependent food facility operator may obtain a health permit.

A shared permanent food facility may be a permitted Commissary or other approved permitted Retail Permanent Food Facility, such as a Restaurant, Retail Market, or Catering Operation Facility, wherein the permit holder leases or rents kitchen facilities to dependent food service operators. 

  • Commissaries are intentionally designed to be used by mobile food facilities such that the operational requirements of the mobile food facility can be achieved.
  • Other approved Retail Permanent Food Facilities are not commissaries but are approved to share kitchen facilities. These may be approved to service some mobile food facilities, however approval is not guaranteed.

View more information regarding Dependent Food Service Operation permitting

Inspection Information for Dependent Food Service Operations

View the Commissary and Shared Permanent Food Facility Information page

Mobile Food Facility (MFF) means any vehicle used in conjunction with a commissary or other approved permanent retail food facility from which food is sold or distributed at retail. The types of Mobile Food Facilities are described below:

  1. Produce Vehicle: A MFF limited to the sale of whole, uncut produce obtained from an approved source.
  2. Compact Mobile Food Operation (CMFO) - Prepackaged Non-PHF: an unenclosed mobile food facility that operates from an individual or from a pushcart, stand, display, pedal-driven cart, wagon, showcase, rack, or other nonmotorized conveyance.
  3. Compact Mobile Food Operation (CMFO) - Unpackaged Food/PHF: a non-motorized Mobile Food Facility that is restricted to Limited Food Preparation as defined in the California Retail Food Code section 113818. Examples of menu items that easily fit within Limited Food Preparation include, but are not limited to: hot dogs, shaved ice, roasted nuts, sliced fruit, boiled corn, popcorn, or churros.
  4. Mobile Food Facility Preparation Unit (Enclosed or Unclosed): A MFF that engages in full food preparation.

Make sure to contact all relevant City or County agencies BEFORE setting up your MFF business. Laws and ordinances differ within City and County boundaries and may not allow you to sell in certain areas without their own form of approval.

A certification insignia issued by the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is required on a mobile food facility that is occupied and has 110 volt electrical, plumbing, a gas appliance/equipment or a mechanical generator or compressor. Contact HCD at (951) 782-4420 or visit the California Housing and Community Development website for additional information.
To serve ice cream (including soft serve) and yogurt contact California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for milk products licensing.

Community Event means an event conducted for not more than 25 consecutive or nonconsecutive days in a 90-day period and that is of a civic, political, public, or educational nature, including state and county fairs, city festivals, circuses, and other public gathering events approved by the local enforcement agency.

The Event Organizer is responsible for running the community event, ensuring that all the Temporary Food Facilities have their health permits and have the appropriate set-up during the event in order to operate in compliance with all applicable laws. An event organizer permit is required for any community event consisting of two or more food facilities.

Temporary Food Facilities (TFF) means a food facility approved by the enforcement officer that operates at a fixed location for the duration of an approved community event or at a swap meet and only as a part of the community event or swap meet. TFFs that participate at community events include food booths, food carts and food trucks.

Before you can sell or give away food to the public, you are required to have a valid health permit. Please submit all applications to our office at least 2 weeks prior to the event.

NOTE: Mobile Food Facilities (i.e. Food trucks and food carts) with a current County of San Luis Obispo Permit may, if approved by the event organizer, participate at any community event. MFFs not currently permitted to operate in County of San Luis Obispo must obtain a permit by submitting a Temporary Food Facility Application.

What is a catering operation? A catering operation is a food service that is conducted from a permanent food facility approved for food preparation where food is served, or limited food preparation is conducted, at a location other than its permitted location as part of an off-site food service event or when operating in conjunction with a host facility.

What is a Host Facility? A Host Facility is a facility located in a brewery, winery, commercial building, or other location approved by Environmental Health Services (EHS) that meets specified infrastructure and operational requirements. The location cannot be the same premises as those set aside for wine or beer tasting.

WHAT'S A CERTIFIED FARMERS' MARKET? CFM is a market where farmers sell their California grown agricultural products directly to the public. CFMs are regulated and inspected by both the County of San Luis Obispo Agricultural Commissioner and County of San Luis Obispo Environmental Health Services Division.
To Participate in a CFM:

  1. Organizers - Register with the State of California Farmers' Market Program at
  2. Organizers/Vendors - To open a Farmers' Market or become a "Certified Producer" operating within San Luis Obispo County - Register with the County of San Luis Obispo Agricultural Commissioner's office.
  3. Farmers/Vendors - Contact and obtain permission from the manager of the market in which you wish to participate. Registered farmers are covered under the market manager’s permit and are not required to obtain a separate health permit from Environmental Health Services, however food handling and storage practices must be performed in accordance with the California Retail Food Code. Please review the Certified Farmers Market operating guidelines to ensure compliance is maintained during operation.

NOTE: A Community Event with Temporary Food Facilities may operate in conjunction with the CFM. A separate application and permit is required. Please refer to the Temporary Food Facility Permit page for more information. 

For a list of Farmers' Market in the County of San Luis Obispo visit

Cottage Food is a law that was enacted on January 1, 2013 that allows certain foods approved by California Department Public Health (CDPH) to be made at home. Click here to view an updated list of approved Cottage Food products.

The law allows for two different options:

  1. Class A Operation requires the operator to register with the local health department. Registration allows for selling food directly from your home or to individuals such as customers at a community event, however a separate Health Permit is required to operate at a community event. There is no inspection with a Class A registration. View information on obtaining a permit to operate at a community event.
  2. Class B operation requires the operator to obtain a Health Permit from the local Health Department. The Health Permit allows you to sell to retailers who will then resell the food. For example, you sell food to a market or coffee shop who resells it to their customers. There is a yearly inspection in order to obtain a Class B permit. You may also operate as a Class A Cottage Food Operation when you have a Class B permit.

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