Food Safety and Inspection Program
File a complaint about possible food safety violations. Learn about the food facility inspection process and enforcement.
The Environmental Health Division is responsible for permitting and inspecting all school kitchens, retail and non-retail food establishments, mobile food vendors, and temporary event booths in the City of Berkeley for compliance with the California Retail Food Code and the Berkeley Municipal Code, Title 11. Our approach to food safety focuses on prevention of foodborne and food-related illness by emphasizing the importance of education on key food safety principals and by following the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Retail Food Program Standards.
The Environmental Health Division also responds to a variety of complaints from the community regarding possible foodborne illnesses, poor food-handling practices, unsanitary conditions (including insects and/or rodent complaints). Submit complaints by email or by contacting our office:
2180 Milvia St., 2nd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
Foodservice operators as well as the general public can find food safety information and learn more about food handling and disease prevention.
The Food Safety and Inspection Program focuses on illness prevention by regularly inspecting all permitted food facilities in the City. Follow-up inspections also occur when a facility does not meet the minimum standards of the California Retail Food Code (Cal Code). Retail food facilities include restaurants, bars, markets, food carts, coffee shops, bakeries, meat markets, farmer's markets, flea market (swap meet), boarding houses (fraternities and sororities), vending machines, food vending vehicles, licensed health care facilities, and schools (public and private).
Additionally, food facility operations are regularly inspected for stormwater program compliance.
The program prioritizes complaints and handles them quickly, especially when staff suspects foodborne illness. It responds to all food recalls received by the State Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health Services (DHS) by contacting retailers, making inspections, and/or issuing press releases.
Compliance and Enforcement
This program is mandated by both the State Health and Safety Code and the Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC). Compliance and enforcement activities include assessing fees for reinspection to food facilities that require additional staff time and follow-up to ensure compliance with strict food safety standards. Administrative procedures such as issuing citations for BMC infractions as well as conducting hearings to suspend or revoke food facility permits for failing to comply with State and local laws and ordinances.
Food facilities are required to undergo food safety certification. Classes in food handling and disease prevention are provided to educate food facility operators, sorority staff, and fraternity staff. Special event operators and coordinators are trained regarding food preparation and storage, as well as amplified sound impacts and standards. Education means disease prevention and compliance which reduces the need for enforcement.
- Food Safety Information
- Food Illness Information
- Food Handler Card Requirements - SB 602
- Food Booths at Temporary Events
- Notice on FDA Order to Partially Hydrogenated Oils
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified five risk factors as contributors to investigated and confirmed foodborne illness outbreaks:
Improper holding temperatures
Holding food at an unsafe temperature that may cause a foodborne illness. In general, food should be kept out of the Temperature Danger Zone (41°F - 135°F).
Not heating food to temperatures that kill bacteria which may cause a foodborne illness. In general, foods should be thoroughly cooked to safe temperatures.
Poor personal hygiene
Unsanitary habits by employees like not washing their hands before beginning work or after using the restroom. Poor personal hygiene by an employee may cause a foodborne illness.
Using unclean utensils or equipment in the preparation of food may cause a foodborne illness. Food contact surfaces must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized after each use.
Foods from unsafe sources
Using food from home or unlicensed providers may cause a foodborne illness. Food must come from an approved and reputable supplier.
Stormwater Inspection Program
As mandated by State requirements, the City of Berkeley, along with the County of Alameda, are required to implement a stormwater compliance program.
By enforcing restaurants and food facility operators to comply with stormwater program requirements and follow Best Management Practices (BMPs), the program protects the local creeks and the San Francisco Bay by ensuring that pollutants are kept out of our storm drain system.
Detergents, cleansers, food waste, oil, liquids from dumpsters, mop water, and pressure washer effluent are prohibited from entering the storm drain system. If these pollutants enter the storm drainage system, they flow untreated to our creeks and the Bay. These discharges cause harm to aquatic life and degrade the quality of local waters and the environment. In addition, rodent, fly, and cockroach populations increase due to accumulations of food, grease, and debris in storm drain catch basins.
Stormwater Compliance Inspections of permitted, fixed facilities are typically conducted once every three years.
The following are typical areas of concern and their requirements:
Dumpsters and Dumpster Areas
Lids must be kept completely closed at all times, and waste containers should be leak-free, with no accumulation of trash, litter, and rubbish on the ground of the dumpster area.
Lids must be kept closed when not in use, no accumulation of grease on the ground or near the storm drain. Grease and waste oil spills must be cleaned up properly, and NOT by washing it into the storm drainage system.
Waste or other materials must be contained and managed to prevent discharge of pollutants.
Indoor drains must be plumbed to the sanitary sewer or approved private sewage disposal system, in a compliant manner.
Outdoor interceptors must be maintained to prevent overflow of grease.
Waste Water Management
Waste water from all equipment, mats, surfaces, and pressure washing activities must be collected and discharged to the sanitary sewer. For more information, see Best Management Practices for Restaurants on the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program.
The areas in an around storm drains should be free of accumulated food waste, mop strings, waste water, detergents, grease, oil, and other items.
Roof Top Equipment
Roof-top equipment must be maintained to prevent grease and other non-stormwater discharges.
Storm water violations will result in a Notice of Violation that requires correcting the violations and submitting proof of compliance within a given time frame. Extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. If additional enforcement action is necessary due to failure to comply, it will be progressive and depend on the severity and duration of the violation.