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Who We Are

The Food Safety Branch operates under the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Public Health and is mandated by law (KRS Chapter 217) to protect 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 that act as our agents in carrying out state laws and regulations at the local or county level. The Food Safety Branch also governs the regulation of tattoo artists/studios as well as boarding homes.

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

What We Do

Food products we help make sure are safe are found 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, consultation, 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. 

See here for a listing of Local Health Departments: 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 firms. 

The food manufacturing program oversees establishments that formulate and process foods for wholesale distribution including, but not limited to, firms that manufacturer jams and jellies, honey, sorghum, candy, beverages, bottled waters, ice, fish, sauces, spices, herbs, breading, flour 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. 

For resources on obtaining a Food Manufacturing permit, see the links below:

Request for Certificate for Free Sale or Export

Some countries require a certificate of free sale, sometimes also called a 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, freely 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 for food products manufactured in Kentucky, in a food processing establishment under the regulatory jurisdiction of the state Department of Public Health, that holds a valid permit to operate and is 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.  

The request for these documents must  be made on the Request for Certificate of Free Sale or Export form (DFS-260) and be accompanied by the correct fee, via check or money order (made payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer.)  

The completed form and fee should be mailed to:

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

For additional questions regarding a certificate of free sale or export, contact the Food Safety Branch at (502) 564-7181.

Home-Based Processing and Home-Based Microprocessing

Home-Based Processing/ House Bill 263

House Bill (HB) 263, an Act relating to home-based food products, became law on July 14th, 2018. HB 263 has resulted in changes to our Home-Based Processing Program. For further information on these changes, please click here to view a copy of House Bill 263.

If you have questions regarding House Bill 263 or changes to the home-based processing program, please contact us directly at the Food Safety Branch, at 502-564-7181.

This space will be updated with further information as it becomes available

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.

Please click here to view the Home-based Microprocessor application.

For further questions regarding Microprocessing, please contact Food Manufacturing Supervisor Karen Sloat 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.

Establishment Fixture Requirements