Online Services Government Employment Education Business Tourism Need Help
Consumer Services Section City Letter Head
Instructions for New Food Operators

The following information is provided to you to help ensure a better understanding of the law and standards as they apply to food service establishments. The list is intended to be a summary. It is not the complete ordinance or standard.

Plan reviews are required for new or remodeled food service establishments. Remodeling plans should be reviewed with an Environmental Health Specialist prior to construction to assure that requirements are adequately met. If you have any questions, please call our office at 402-441-8022.

1. Permits

  1. Notify the Health Department at least two working days before the planned opening to allow for ample processing and time scheduling for the initial inspection.
  2. In most cases, both City and State applications and fees are required. The Environmental Health Specialist will provide the application(s) to the owner/operator or designated representative at the time of the initial inspection. The permit fee(s), paid by check, is required at the time of the initial inspection.
  3. Food Handler Permits are required for food preparers, dishwashers, and bus people who work in food service establishments in Lincoln and within three miles of the City limits. At all times, every food establishment must have at least one employee on duty who has a current Level III Permit. After May 31, 1996, it will be required that at least one employee on duty have a current Level IV Permit. For more information, and a class schedule, please contact the Food Handler Coordinator at 402-441-6222.
  4. Contact the Building and Safety Department at 402-441-7521 for questions regarding building permits and zoning requirements.
    Other important phone numbers:
    Nebraska Department of Agriculture
    (Bureaus of Dairies and Foods) ------------------ 402-471-2536
    Nebraska Liquor Control Commission ----------- 402-471-2571
    Nebraska Department of Revenue --------------- 402-471-2971

2. Personnel

  1. No person, while infected with a disease in a communicable form that can be transmitted by foods or who is a carrier of organisms that cause such a disease or while afflicted with a boil, an infected wound, or an acute respiratory infection, shall work in a food service establishment in any capacity in which there is a likelihood of such person contaminating food or food-contact surfaces with pathogenic organisms or transmitting disease to other persons.
  2. The outer clothing of all employees shall be clean and employees shall use effective hair restraints to prevent the contamination of food or food-contact surfaces. Hair shall be restrained through the use of a hair net, cap, scarf, and by tying shoulder length or longer hair behind the shoulders.
  3. Employees shall consume food or drink in designated areas which prevent the contamination of food or equipment.
  4. Employee's shall not use tobacco in any form while engaged in food preparation or service, nor while in areas used for equipment or utensil washing or for food preparation.
  5. Employees shall thoroughly wash their hands and the exposed portions of their arm. With soap and warm water before starting work, during work as often as is necessary to keep them clean, and after smoking, eating, drinking, using the toilet or anytime food handling activities are interrupted. Employees shall keep fingernails clean and trimmed. Nail polish and false fingernails are prohibited. The use of latex gloves or hand sanitizer lotion will not substitute for hand washing.

3. Food Protection

  1. Food will be obtained from approved sources and bear essential labeling information.
  2. Food will be protected from contamination while being stored, prepared, displayed, served or transported. The temperature of potentially hazardous food shall be 45°F or below, or 140°F or above at all times, except during the cooking process. (Potentially hazardous foods shall mean any food that consists, in whole or in part, of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacean or other ingredients, and which is in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious and toxigenic microorganisms).
  3. Some minimum cooking temperatures:
    Poultry and stuffed meats ---------- 165°F
    Ground beef --------------------------- 155°F
    Pork ------------------------------------- 150°F
    Beef, fish and lamb ---------------- 140°F
    Rare roast beef -------------------- 130°F
  4. Potentially hazardous foods that have been cooked and then refrigerated shall be reheated within one hour to a least 165°F before serving. Steam tables, bainmaries, warmers, and similar hot food holding equipment are prohibited for the rapid reheating of potentially hazardous foods.
  5. A metal-stemmed product thermometer, accurate within ± 2°F, and with a temperature range appropriate for the food being measured, shall be provided and used to check product temperature during the cooking, holding, cooling and reheating processes.
  6. Potentially hazardous foods shall be thawed by one of the following means:
    1. In a refrigerated unit not to exceed 45°F.
    2. Under potable running water of a temperature of 70°F or below.
    3. In a microwave oven as part of the continuous cooking process.
    4. As part of the conventional cooking process. Potentially hazardous foods shall NOT be thawed at room temperature.
  7. Food at risk of contamination shall be stored at least six inches off the floor.
  8. All refrigerated and hot food holding facilities storing potentially hazardous foods shall be provided with numerically scaled indicating thermometers, accurate to ±3°F, and located to be easily readable.

4. Food Equipment and Utensils

  1. Equipment and utensils used for food preparation shall be smooth, easily cleanable, corrosion resistant, non-absorbent and in good repair.
  2. All equipment, and the installation of such, must meet NSF standards or equivalent.
  3. Floor mounted equipment such as stoves, grills and fryers shall be raised at least six inches off the floor for easy cleaning. It is recommended that cooking equipment that utilizes natural gas be equipped with flexible lines that allow the equipment to be pulled away from walls for easy cleaning.
  4. Equipment shall not be located under exposed or unprotected sewer lines or water lines, open stairwells, or other sources of contamination.

5. Dish Washing and Sanitization

  1. Tableware and kitchenware shall be washed, rinsed, sanitized and air-dried after each use.
  2. Manual dish washing utilizing a three-compartment sink with drain boards shall be conducted as follows:
    1. Sinks shall be cleaned prior to use.
    2. Equipment and utensils shall be flushed or scraped to remove gross food particles prior to being washed.
    3. Equipment and utensils shall be thoroughly washed in the first compartment with a hot detergent solution.
    4. Equipment and utensils shall be rinsed free of detergent and abrasives with clean water in the second compartment.
    5. Equipment and utensils shall be sanitized in the third compartment.
    6. Equipment and utensils shall be placed on the drain board and thoroughly air dried. The use of towels for drying equipment or utensils is prohibited.
  3. Equipment and utensils shall be sanitized in the third sink by one of the following methods:
    1. Immersion for at least ½ minute in hot water of at least 170° F.
    2. Immersion for at least one minute in a solution containing 50 parts per million (ppm), and not more than 200ppm, of chlorine at a temperature of at least 75°F.
    3. Immersion for at least one minute in a solution containing 200ppm of quaternary ammonium compound at a temperature of at least 75°F.
    4. Immersion for at least one minute in a solution containing at least 12.5ppm, and not more than 25ppm, of available iodine at a temperature of at least 75°F.
    5. Immersion for at least one minute in any other approved chemical sanitizing agent that will provide the equivalent bactericidal effect of a solution containing at least 50ppm of available chlorine as a hypochlorite at a temperature of at least 75°F.
    6. Mechanical dish washing shall be conducted according to the manufacturer's specifications.

      A sanitizer test kit shall be available at all times, and shall be used frequently to check the strength of the sanitizer.

      Wiping cloths shall be stored in a sanitizing solution between uses. The bucket shall be clearly labeled "Sanitizer." For food contact surfaces, it is recommended that a red bucket be used and that "sanitizer" be written in black letters. Detergents, cleaners and other chemicals shall not be added to the wiping cloth sanitizing solution.

    6. Plumbing

    1. Water must come from an approved source.
    2. Devices shall be installed to protect against backflow and back siphonage at all fixtures and equipment where an air gap at least twice the diameter of the water supply inlet is not provided between the water supply inlet and the fixture's flood level rim. A hose shall not be attached to a faucet unless a backflow prevention device is installed.
    3. In new or extensively remodeled establishments at least one utility sink or curbed cleaning facility with a floor drain shall be provided and used for the cleaning of mops or similar wet floor cleaning tools and for the disposal of mop water or similar liquid wastes. The use of lavatories, utensil-washing or equipment-washing, or food preparation sinks for this purpose is prohibited.
    4. Floor drains/floor sinks must be installed wherever equipment, such as ice bins and drink machines, discharges liquid condensate. This equipment shall be drained to the sanitary sewer system.
    5. All plumbing fixtures must be in good repair with no leaks and all water lines must meet the specifications of the City Plumbing Code.

    7. Lavatories

    1. Hand washing facilities shall be conveniently located to permit use by employees in food preparation, ware washing and service areas. Hand washing facilities shall also be located in or immediately adjacent to toilet rooms or vestibules.
    2. A supply of hand-cleansing soap and sanitary towels (kept in a dispenser), or hand-drying devices providing heated air, shall be conveniently located near each hand washing facility.
    3. Sink compartments used for food preparation or for ware washing shall not be used for hand washing or any other purpose.

    8. Toilet Facilities

    1. Restroom doors must be equipped with self-closing devices.
    2. A covered waste container must be supplied in all women's restrooms.
    3. Contact the Building and Safety Department, Chief Plumbing Inspector at 402-441-7525 for information regarding the number of restrooms that will be required in your establishment.

    9. Floors

    1. Floors must be constructed of a smooth, durable material that is impervious to water and grease. Acceptable examples are ceramic-tile, durable grades of linoleum, terrazzo or sealed concrete.
    2. The junctures between walls and floors shall be coved and sealed.
    3. Carpeting is prohibited in food preparation, equipment-washing and utensil-washing areas where it would be exposed to large amounts of grease and water, in food storage areas, and toilet rooms where urinals and toilet fixtures are located.

    10. Walls and Ceilings

    1. Walls and ceilings must be kept clean and in good repair.
    2. The walls, wall coverings, and ceilings of walk-in refrigerating units, food preparation areas, equipment-washing and utensil-washing areas, toilet rooms and vestibules shall be light colored, smooth, nonabsorbent, and easily cleanable.
    3. Walls that are exposed to sink splashes must be covered with ceramic tile or SRP panel.
    4. Stainless steel walls are recommended behind grills and equipment that generate grease and high temperatures.
    5. The ceiling tile above grills and fryers must be washable.

    11. General Information

    1. Light fixtures must be properly shielded.
    2. All rooms shall have sufficient ventilation to keep them free of excessive heat, steam, condensation, vapors, obnoxious odors, smoke and fumes.
    3. A self-extinguishing fire system may be required. For more information, contact the Bureau of Fire Prevention at 402-441-7791.
    4. Openings to the outside shall be effectively protected against the entrance of pests.
    5. Pesticides shall be stored separately from cleaners and away from food preparation, food storage and utensil storage areas.

InterLinc Home Page

Consumer Services