California Requirements for a Commercial Kitchen

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The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services dictates food safety in all states.
The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services dictates food safety in all states. (Image: Andrew Bret Wallis/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you want to set up a commercial kitchen in California, you will have to conform with the general directives and regulations of the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The implementation of regulations and the inspections are performed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and its local inspection services.

Safety and Environmental Regulations

California requirements for commercial kitchen facilities are related to safety of the building facility, safety of appliances, safety of food handling, and environmental regulations. The building in which the kitchen is located has to conform with the local business codes and zoning regulations under the local planning department. The appliances and the plumbing system for a commercial kitchen have to conform to the Uniform Mechanical Code, which is the international Standard for all mechanical devices, under the international Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ISPMO). These standards provide specifications for commercial kitchen appliances. This means you cannot use the same appliances you use at home, for a food business. Environmental regulations are imposed by various local governments. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area has environmental rules under its Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Each area has its own air quality and energy-saving provisions.

Appliances and plumbing for commercial kitchens must conform to international standards.
Appliances and plumbing for commercial kitchens must conform to international standards. (Image: Kitchen image by armanxo from Fotolia.com)

Food-Handling Licenses

Apply and register for food-handling licenses with the California Department of Public Health, Food Certificates, Licenses, and Registration, depending on what kind of food is handled. Shellfish, for example, requires a special license, and so does organic food.

Business Licenses

Obtain zoning and business permits from the local city planning department. You will have to obtain a sales tax license from the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) and also register your business and obtain a business identification number for tax purposes from the U.S. Government business registration office. The wholesale suppliers will request these business and sales tax identification numbers before supplying products to your kitchen.

Responsibility

As a owner of a commercial kitchen, you have the responsibility to provide safe food to the public. This responsibility means that you have to become familiar with all aspects of food safety as provided by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services, under "Directives 11.000, Facilities, Equipment, and Sanitation." These Directives are the rules by which the local inspectors operate when they inspect food-handling facilities. A kitchen facility should expect regular inspections from the California Department of Public Health. It is also your responsibility to keep track of food recalls and new safety requirements and maintain the facility.

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