The Department of Environmental Health provides guidance to business owners through a plan review process specific to the type of operation (Fixed Establishments, Mobile Food Establishments, and Temporary Food Establishments). Once approved, inspections of food establishments are completed based on risk classification and will generally focus on risk factors that most commonly contribute to foodborne illness. Below are additional guidance documents and general information related to operating a food and beverage establishment.

Plan Review & Licensing

In accordance with Arizona Food Code (8-201.11), the construction of a new food or beverage establishment, conversion of ownership for an existing food or beverage establishment (licenses/permits are not transferable), or remodeling of a food establishment by the permitted owner requires submission of plans to ensure compliance with all applicable codes. The Department of Environmental Health utilizes current guidance provided by the Conference of Food Protection to evaluate plans and approve operations during the pre-operational inspection(s). Upon completion of the pre-operational inspection, the applicable permit/license fee is required to be submitted for issuance of permit/license.

Permit / License Exemptions

Businesses operating under the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Home Baked and Confectionary Goods program are exempt from the above requirements. Businesses are required to register for the program and meet all of the requirements outlined under state law. See additional information on this program at the ADHS Home Baked And Confectionary Goods Website.

Risk-Based Inspections

Inspections of permitted food establishments are completed based on a risk classification that is assigned at the time of license/permit issuance. At a minimum, inspections will focus on the following risk factors that most commonly contribute to foodborne illness:

  1. Poor employee hygiene and health
  2. Improper holding of foods
  3. Improper cooking of foods
  4. Use of contaminated equipment
  5. Foods from an unsafe source

Utilizing a risk-based approach to inspections places a focus on immediate corrective action for risk factor violations. To document corrective action requirements, the person in charge of the facility will be provided a report detailing the corrective actions required and the timeframe for compliance in accordance with Arizona Food Code. A follow-up inspection may be required to verify corrective action is completed for violations that are unable to be completed at time of inspection. Additional inspections may also be completed due to public complaints, suspected foodborne illness outbreak, or upon request for training purposes.

Complex Facility- Type III (3 to 4 Inspections Per Year)

Prepares and holds hot or cold food for more than 12 hours before serving; and/or cooks and cools a significant number of foods during the food handling process; and/or prepares food for off-site service; and/or vacuum packs food; and/or serves a highly susceptible population.

Moderate Facility- Type II (2 to 3 Inspections Per Year)

Food prepared in the facility from raw ingredients requires minimal assembly; and/or hot or cold food preparation in the facility is restricted to same-day service; and/or foods requiring preparation in the facility are from approved processing facilities.

Limited Facility- Type I (2 Inspection Per Year)

Only pre-packaged potentially hazardous foods are available or sold; and/or potentially hazardous foods served are commercially pre-packaged in an approved food processing facility; and/or only conducts limited preparation of potentially hazardous foods and beverages; and/or only serves beverages.