Food Service

The Food, Lodging and Institution section of the Environmental Health Department is responsible for permitting and inspecting restaurants, food stands, mobile food units, pushcarts, meat markets, elderly nutrition sites, school lunchrooms, school buildings, lodging places, bed and breakfast places, hospitals, rest and nursing homes, child and adult day care, residential care, jails, boarding schools, orphanages, swimming pools, spas, summer camps and tattoo parlors.

Before commencing construction or renovation of a restaurant or any other facility selling food to the public, meat market, school building or lunchroom (public or private, including colleges), commissary, elderly nutrition site, sport concession stand, hotel, motel, bed and breakfast home or inn, summer camp, rest or nursing home, hospital, child day care facility, migrant housing facility, residential care, jail, orphanage, children's home or similar facility, swimming pool or spa (except single-family private residences), or tattoo parlor, plans must be submitted for review and approval by the Catawba County Environmental Health Department. See flyer listing establishments requiring plan review and the applications required.

Applications can be found in our ePermit system. The fee schedule can be found here.

Review inspection scores here.

The Plan Review Section of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources has produced a set of guidelines for design, construction and installation for foodservice establishments in North Carolina that you may find useful in preparing your plans for submission to the Environmental Health Division.

When applying to construct or renovate a facility serving food to the public or when there is an ownership change, please fill out an application when submitting plans for review. A full set of plans can be created to scale by either an architect or engineer.

A Walk-Through Application may also be needed for certain types of establishments prior to plan review for construction/renovations.

Applications can be found in our ePermit system. The fee schedule can be found here.

Breads, pastries, pies, other baked goods and dip ice cream are excluded from the food service rule. You must, however, contact the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to see what you may need to do to be in compliance with that department. Call (919) 733-7366 for more information.

A permit or transitional permit must be issued before an establishment is allowed to begin operation. A permit shall be issued only when the establishment satisfies all of the requirements of the rules. See state regulations here. Plans must be in accordance with 15A NCAC 18A .2600.

A permit or transitional permit shall be immediately revoked in accordance with G.S. 130A-23(d) for failure of the establishment to maintain a minimum grade of C. A permit or transitional permit may otherwise be suspended or revoked in accordance with G.S.130A-23.

If ownership of an establishment is transferred or the establishment is leased, the new owner or lessee shall apply for a new permit or a transitional permit. A transitional permit may be issued upon the transfer of ownership or lease of an establishment to allow the correction of construction and equipment problems that do not represent an immediate threat to public health. Upon issuance of a new permit or a transitional permit, any previously issued permit for an establishment in that location becomes void.

Additional rules for nonprofits and fundraising events can be found in Chapter 55A of the General Statutes, G.S. 105-228.90, and G.S. 163-278.6(14).

Before a food service establishment or meat market can begin construction, plans, drawn to scale, and specifications, including the proposed menu, must be submitted for review. Plans should show food preparation areas and seating capacity.

For more information on requirements for plans and sanitation guidelines, see state statutes.

Applications can be found in our ePermit system. The fee schedule can be found here.

Review inspection scores here.

Anyone considering operating a Mobile Food Unit or Pushcart to vend food in Catawba County should review our information guides (English)(Spanish) before proceeding with the permitting and inspection process.

Mobile Food Unit: A mobile food unit is defined as a vehicle mounted food service establishment designed to be readily moved. These permitted units can operate year-round.

Pushcart: A pushcart is defined as a mobile piece of equipment or vehicle that serves hot dogs or other foods that have been prepared, pre-portioned, and individually pre-wrapped at a restaurant or commissary. These permitted units can operate year-round.

Prior to permitting and/or construction, an application, drawing of the mobile unit or pushcart with layout and specs, as well as a plan review fee must be submitted. All equipment must be National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or commercial equivalent, and the type of interior finishes must also be included. Pushcarts must be constructed to NSF or commercial standards and must be labeled so. Please submit the manufacturer’s specification sheet when submitting the cart’s layout, along with the contact sheet and required plan review fee.

The Rules Governing the Sanitation of Restaurants and Other Food Handling Establishments, 15A NCAC 18A, section 2600, sets forth requirements for the operation of food handling establishments, and contains specific requirements for operation of mobile food units and push carts, in addition to the rules governing food handling generally.

Applications can be found in our ePermit system. The fee schedule can be found here.

Review inspection scores here.

A Temporary Food Service Establishment is defined as a food and drink establishment that operates for a period of 15 days or less in connection with a fair, carnival, circus, public exhibition or other similar gathering, although a mobile food unit or push cart can serve at such events without the issuance of a separate permit.

The Rules Governing the Sanitation of Restaurants and Other Food Handling Establishments, 15A NCAC 18A, section 2600, sets forth requirements for the operation of food handling establishments, and contains specific requirements for operation of mobile food units and push carts, in addition to the rules governing food handling generally. These stands must meet the requirements contained in 15A NCAC 18A .2635.

Vendors should review the Temporary Food Establishment Requirements guide (Spanish / Hmong) before submitting an application.

Festival organizers should include a copy of the brochure, along with the application, in the information package sent to potential festival vendors. Organizers should also submit to the Catawba County Environmental Health Department a list of all food vendors who will be participating in the event.

The Temporary Food Stand Permit Application and fee must be submitted no less than two weeks before the first anticipated day of operation. Representatives of Catawba County Environmental Health will be on site to issue permits before vendors commence operation, and will continue to monitor operations during the festival.

Applications can be found in our ePermit system. The fee schedule can be found here.

Review inspection scores here.