Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Who We Are

The Food Safety Branch of the Department for Public Health protects consumers from the sale of adulterated, misbranded and falsely labeled foods and food products.

The Food Safety Branch provides technical assistance and guidance to local health departments carrying out state laws and regulations at the local level. The Food Safety Branch also regulates tattoo artists/studios and boarding homes.

The Food Safety Branch provides training and information to industry and consumers and issues permits to establishments that meet minimum compliance standards.

What We Do

We help make sure food products are safe in restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, food processing plants, food/beverage vending machines, hotels, bed and breakfast lodging, fairs, festivals and other locations where food is offered to the public.

Our central office develops statewide retail food program plans, objectives, policies, and procedures and helps local health departments carry out the food protection program in Kentucky. 

Certified evaluation officers trained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provide training and guidance to local health departments. Local health departments are authorized to carry out the food safety program in the counties and districts they serve. Every county or district has a certified retail food specialist and all food inspectors are registered sanitarians. 

Local Health Department Listing

Kentucky Food Code

Kentucky Food Manufacturing Program

Our central office develops statewide food manufacturing program plans, objectives, policies and procedures and carries out the inspection program from the state level. Area food manufacturing inspectors conduct food safety inspections of wholesale food processing and storage. 

The food manufacturing program oversees establishments that formulate and process foods for wholesale distribution and grain storage facilities and food storage warehouses.

All Kentucky area food inspectors are credentialed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are registered sanitarians. 

Manufacturing Regulations

902 KAR 45:160. Kentucky food processing, packaging, storage, and distribution operations. Effective 11-2-18.

Food Manufacturing Permit Resources 

Process and Manufacture Food For Sale

Commercial Food Manufacturing in Kentucky - A Starter Guide 

Commercial Food Manufacturing in Kentucky - A Starter Guide 

Label Requirements for Commercial Food Processors 

Manufacturing Inspector Contacts by County 

Commercial Kitchens in Kentucky 

Request for Certificate for Free Sale or Export
Some countries require a certificate of free sale or certificate for export when companies outside the United States import food products. The certificate of free sale is evidence that food items are legally sold or distributed in the open market without restriction and are approved by the regulatory authorities in the country of origin.

The Food Safety Branch may issue a certificate of free sale to Kentucky food processing establishments under the regulatory jurisdiction of the state Department of Public Health, with a valid permit to operate and in good standing with the department. The current fee is $10 for each signed, notarized certificate for free sale/certificate of export. The Kentucky Food Safety Branch does not issue certificates of free sale for dietary supplements, USDA regulated products or animal/pet feed.  

A Request for Certificate of Free Sale or Export form (DFS-260) must be accompanied by check or money order (made payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer) for the current fee. The completed form and fee should be mailed to:

Food Safety Branch
275 East Main Street-Mail Stop: HS1C-F
Frankfort, KY, 40621-0001

Certificates for Free Sale are valid for one year from the date of signing. For additional questions regarding a certificate of free sale or export, contact Virginia Hamilton of the Food Safety Branch at (502) 564-7181.

Home-Based Processing

The Home-based Processing program allows Kentucky residents to produce or process certain items in their home kitchen and market those items at approved locations within the state, directly to the consumer. Please see the below links for details.

Summary of Recent Changes to Home-Based Processing

Labeling and Allergen Requirements for Home-Based Processors 

Full text of House Bill 468

For further questions regarding Home-Based Processing, please contact Program Coordinator Virginia Hamilton at (502) 564-7181. 

Home-Based Microprocessing

Certified Home-based microprocessors who grow a predominate agronomic ingredient and meet further requirements may grow, harvest and process acid foods, formulated acid food products, acidified food products and low-acid canned foods.

Several steps are required before your application may be submitted to the Food Safety Branch. Please see the below documents for details. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Microprocessor Certification 

Microprocessing Labeling Template

Division of Water Microprocessor Fact Sheet

Home-Based Microprocessor Application

For further questions regarding Microprocessing applications, please contact Program Coordinator Virginia Hamilton at (502) 564-7181.

Temporary Food Operations

Temporary Food Service Set-Up Guidelines

All temporary food vendors must have a permit to operate.

Foods may be prepared and served in conjunction with gatherings or events such as fairs and festivals. Food items and methods of preparation may be restricted during these temporary events. All temporary food vendors must have a permit from the local health department prior to commencing operations. These permits are valid, if the establishment complies with regulations, for up to 14 days at one location. For more information and applications, please contact your local county health department.

Restricted Food Concessions

These food establishments operate with restricted non-potentially hazardous menu items and ingredients considered to be low-risk in relation to food borne illness. Only nonpotentially hazardous menu items may be provided with the exception of plain frankfurters with bread, commercially processed nacho cheese sauce, and chips. Other potentially hazardous foods may not be provided by a restricted food concession. These concessions may operate with limited fixture requirements as defined in the Kentucky Food Establishment Act and State Retail Food Code. For more information please contact your local county health department.

Statewide Mobile Food Unit Operations

A statewide mobile food unit is essentially a food establishment that is on wheels or otherwise mobile. These operations are permitted by the local county health department. Permitted operations pay one yearly fee and may operate statewide. These units are to contact the health department in each county where they operate for an inspection and units may not remain at one location longer than 14 consecutive days. For more information and applications, please contact your local county health department.

Micro Markets 

A micro market is a self-checkout retail food establishment. In a micro market, a customer picks up a product from an open rack display or a reach-in refrigerated cooler, then scans the UPC bar code for each product at a payment kiosk. 

Micro Market Guidance Document

For more information and applications, please contact your local county health department.

Establishment Fixture Requirements