Retail food operator frequently requested information


What is required to open a retail food establishment in Colorado?
A Colorado Retail Food License must be obtained and the establishment must meet the requirements of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations (6 CCR 1010-2). A review and approval of operations and construction plans may be required prior to a license being granted. 


Where can I obtain a retail food establishment license? 
Contact us at (303) 692-3645 or the local public health agency in the county in which you would like to operate. 


I have been approved to operate a retail food establishment in the City and County of Denver. How do I receive a Colorado Retail Food License? 
If you are licensed to operate in the City and County of Denver you are only licensed to operate within the city and county limits. If you are going to operate a retail food establishment outside of the City and County of Denver, an additional Colorado Retail Food Establishment License is required. A Colorado Retail Food Establishment license can be obtained from the local public health agency in which you intend to operate. 


Do construction plans for new or remodeled restaurants and grocery stores need to be submitted and approved? 
Yes. Submit the required plans to the local public health agency of the county in which you wish to operate. Plans need to be reviewed and approved prior to applying for a retail food establishment license.  Please allow ample time, preferably before construction begins, for the review process.


How do I start a mobile retail food operation, such as a food truck?
You must obtain a Colorado Retail Food License in the primary county of operation 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.

Does a push cart serving only hot coffee, espresso and/or pastries need a retail food license? 
No. As long as the pastries are not potentially hazardous and the beverages are not iced, a license is not required. Facilities serving cream and milk for coffee and tea are not required to be licensed. 

Is it OK to cook hamburgers and steaks to the customer's liking if they ask to have it cooked “medium”, “medium rare” or “rare”? 
Hamburgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 155°F. The customer does have the option to order hamburger or steak cooked to their preference; however, restaurants must notify customers of the increased risk of consuming raw animals products using a Consumer Advisory statement in accordance with section 3-801 of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations


Is a grease trap required in a retail food establishment?
Grease traps may be required in certain municipalities. When installed, the grease trap shall be located away from food preparation areas, be easily accessible for cleaning and must be installed flush to the floor. 


If I remodel my retail food establishment, do I need to install wheelchair accessible restrooms?
We do not mandate wheelchair accessible restrooms. The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for developing and enforcing ADA public accommodations as well as state and local government regulations. Contact the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center for technical assistance at (800) 949-4232. 


Are retail food service workers required to wear gloves? 
Food service workers are required to not have bare hand contact when handling ready-to-eat food or foods that will not be further washed or cooked, unless the establishment operates using a “bare hand contact plan” that has been approved by their local public health agency. Gloves, utensils, and deli papers are some examples of items that can be used to prevent bare hand contact. 


Can I prepare food in the home and sell it wholesale to retail markets, etc.?
No, unless you have a separate kitchen in your home that is dedicated to and approved for the production of the food. Approval is obtained from your local public health agency or this department. Contact us (303) 692-3645 or contact your local public health agency.