Food Service Establishments/Operations
In Cattaraugus County, any establishment preparing, handling, and serving food to the public requires a food service permit issued by the Health Department. There are three types of food service permits that are available to potential operators. Permits are issued for permanent food service establishments (restaurants, cafeterias, etc.), mobile food service establishments (food trucks, pushcarts, and mobile concessions stands), and temporary food service establishments (limited food service stands for a specific event). Religious, fraternal and charitable organizations may alternatively receive a “Permission to Operate” a kitchen provided that it is not operated more than once a week. Please contact the Environmental Health Division for more information.
Permanent Food Service Establishments
A food service establishment is defined as a place where food is prepared and intended for individual portion service. This includes the site at which the individual portions are provided, whether consumption occurs on or off the premises. The definition excludes food processing facilities, retail food stores, and food service operations where a distinct group (not open to the general public) mutually provides, prepares, serves and consumes the food. Please note that food processing facilities and retail food stores require a license through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Each food service establishment is placed into one of three “risk classifications” based on the type of foods being served and complexity of preparation procedures. Permit fees and inspection frequency are determined by this risk classification. A “low risk” establishment serves primarily pre-cooked foods requiring little to no preparation. A “medium risk” establishment serves “cook and serve” type foods requiring limited preparation. A “high risk” establishment serves foods requiring more complicated preparation including multiple heating and cooling steps. Catering operations are all classified as high risk due to preparation at one site, with transportation for service at the premises of the consumer.
Mobile Food Service Establishments & Foodcarts
A mobile food service establishment is a self-contained food operation located in a vehicle or movable stand, self or otherwise propelled, used to store, prepare, display and serve food intended for individual portion consumption.
Like permanent food service establishments, mobile food service operations are also placed into one of the three risk classifications mentioned above. Food may be prepared in the cart itself, at an approved food service establishment (or commissary), or purchased at an appropriately licensed facility.
Temporary Food Service Establishments
A temporary food service establishment is typically a portable stand where food is prepared or handled and served to the public, with or without charge, and which operates at a fixed location in conjunction with a single event or celebration of not more than 14 consecutive days duration.
Temporary food service establishments are limited to foods requiring limited preparation (seasoning and cooking) and which will be promptly served and consumed by the public.
Additional Requirements for Food Service Establishments
Food service establishments served by on-site water and sewage utilities must also comply with additional Sanitary Code requirements. Any water supply used by a food service establishment is classified as a public water system and must meet all applicable regulations. Sewage disposal systems must be adequately sized to meet the needs of the business. Typically, new sewage disposal systems for food service establishments will require the services of a NYS licensed engineer and a SPDES permit from the NYS DEC.
Plan Review & Approval for New Food Service Establishments
New (or extensively remodeled) food service establishments may require plan review and approval prior to construction. Permanent and mobile food service establishments have Sanitary Code requirements pertaining to the physical construction and maintenance of the building or mobile food unit. Plan review and approval is intended to identify Sanitary Code issues early on, so that they do not create an issue upon opening.