The Environmental Health Program is responsible for the inspection of all restaurants and retail markets in La Plata, Archuleta, and San Juan Counties. The Environmental Health staff perform inspections, investigations, and enforce compliance with State laws and regulations. Staff also provide technical expertise and training for the food service industry. The Health Protection Programs also investigate all complaints, reports of food-borne illness, and food related health problems.
San Juan Basin Public Health’s Environmental Health program staff work with food facilities by providing both consultations and regulatory inspections. Facilities are inspected per the Colorado Retail Food Codes. Critical violations are those that are more likely to cause a food-borne illness.
One inspection may not represent the overall, long-term food safety practices of a facility. On any given day, a restaurant may have greater or fewer violations than noted in the most recent regulatory inspection.
Retail food establishment inspections are public records, and a copy of an official inspection report may be obtained through an Open Records Request.
If you get sick eating out, contact San Juan Basin Public Health to file a complaint, or make a written complaint online. The staff will request information detailing the foods consumed, when consumed, when symptoms started, if others are ill with similar symptoms, and a 72-hour meal history.
If you are severely ill or if your symptoms persist, you should contact your physician. In most cases, medical tests must be conducted to confirm the specific cause of the food borne illness. Contact the food service establishment and advise them of your concerns.
- FDA Food-Borne Illness and Contaminants
- Example agreement for reporting illness to employer or person in charge
Preventing cross-contamination is one step to help eliminate food-borne illness. Cross-contamination of food is a common factor in the cause of food-borne illness. Foods can become contaminated by microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) from many different sources during the food preparation and storage process.
Food Handler Training
The food service industry offers a wide variety of occupations ranging from restaurants, school cafeterias, mobile food units, and cottage foods. There are several options for you to consider when improving your food handling skills.
The Colorado State University Extension Office also offers courses. For questions or additional information call (970)382-6461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Juan Basin Public Health also provides trainings and educational sessions. Staff host three Food Safety Basic classes, one in each county served. If attended by a manager, these interventions count as one regular retail food establishment inspection every two years. Please contact SJBPH for current dates and locations at (970) 335-2052 or email@example.com.
What do I do if I want to operate a restaurant, grocery store, or other food outlet?
All food service establishments selling, serving, and preparing food require a State of Colorado Retail Food Establishment License. All facilities being used for such purpose must be inspected and approved by SJBPH Environmental Health staff prior to operation. If interested in starting a retail food establishment or retail food market in Archuleta, La Plata, or San Juan Counties, contact San Juan Basin Public Health for assistance at (970) 335-2052 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A set of plans and specifications must be submitted to the health department for review and approval before construction begins. Once you have submitted the plan review packet to SJBPH, approval and licensing takes approximately eight (8) weeks. Retail food licenses cannot be purchased until the plan review has been completed and approved by SJBPH staff.
- Plan Review Guidance
- Plan Review Initial Advisory
- Plan Review Packet
- Equipment Requirements
- Mobile Unit Retail Food Plan Review Packet
- Retail Food Establishment License Request and Renewal Form
What do I do if I want to purchase an existing restaurant, grocery store or other food service facility?
If interested in purchasing an existing food service operation, contact the San Juan Basin Public Health’s Environmental Health program for information regarding previous inspections at (970) 335-2052 or email@example.com
Request a change of ownership inspection; this will provide detailed information outlining any changes or remodeling that may be required to bring the facility into compliance with Colorado State Retail Food Establishment Regulations. Since the Regulations have changed over the years, even a restaurant that is currently operating may not meet the current regulations. When there is a change of ownership, or any extensive remodeling, the owner will be required to bring the facility into compliance with the current Regulations.
If you are purchasing an existing establishment, please submit the Change of Ownership Packet before making any equipment or remodeling changes.
What fees may be assessed?
The cost of the plan review is $100, due upon submission of the plans and specifications. Plan review time will be billed at the hourly rate of $60 per hour.
Any retail food establishment may request a variance from any requirement of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations when the establishment believes that the requirement results in an undue economic hardship or when it is believed that a standard may not apply to the specific situation.
To Request a Variance
What to include in the Variance Packet:
- Request for Variance form
- Evidence of financial burden (if applicable). Please attach estimates of loss of income and/or cost of compliance.
- Detailed explanation of why the regulation is not applicable to the establishment (if applicable).
- Explanation of how any potential health hazards will be mitigated (including any policies/procedures).
- Description of how implementation will take place (including staff training, acquisition of supplies, etc.).
Colorado Food Code regulations Variance procedure (Section 11-6, page 106)
For more information related to requesting a Variance for Pets on Patios, please see the Service Animals and Pets tab.
To operate a food truck or other mobile unit it is required to obtain a Colorado Retail Food License and comply with Chapter Nine of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations. A review and approval of operations and mobile retail food operation plans may be required prior to a license being granted.
A push cart serving only hot coffee, espresso and/or pastries does not need a retail food license, as long as the pastries are not potentially hazardous and the beverages are not iced. Facilities serving cream and milk for coffee and tea are not required to be licensed.
San Juan Basin Public Health is not licensing vendors for special or temporary events for the 2017 calendar year. Archuleta, La Plata, and San Juan counties have specific rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure the public’s health and safety. Please follow the guidelines for temporary events. It is the responsibility of both the event sponsor and the vendor to ensure that all regulations are met.
Mobile units or food trucks that operate more than 14 non-consecutive days, must obtain a Colorado Retail Food Establishment License.
Per Colorado Food Code §8-106, pets are not permitted in retail food establishments (including outdoor patios). This prohibition does not include service animals, which are always allowed. For more detailed information about service animals, please see the Service Animal Guidance.
Pets may be allowed on outdoor patios under certain circumstances, which requires a Variance issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Any retail food establishment may request a Variance from any requirement of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations when the establishment believes that the requirement results in an undue economic hardship or when it is believed that a standard may not apply to the specific situation.
For more information regarding variances go the Variances tab.
Food manufacturing and storage includes selling prepared packaged food to retailers, re-packaging food and ingredients, and selling products on the internet..
Food that is prepared for human consumption must be made in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen. Food may not be prepared in a home kitchen for sale to the public. The Colorado Food Manufacturing Regulations must be followed for such a facility. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) regulates wholesale food.
The Cottage Foods Act allows limited types of food products that are non-potentially hazardous (do not require refrigeration for safety) to be sold directly to consumers without licensing or inspection.