Retail Food Establishments

The Department of Health investigates general complaints about sanitation or unsafe food handling practices in food service establishments. If you wish to make a complaint, please call us at  (260) 449-7562 or go to our Allen County Health Inspector site. You can leave your name or remain anonymous. If you choose to leave your name with the complaint, it may appear on the public record. We make every attempt to follow-up on complaints within 24 business hours.

Restaurant place settingThe Department of Health’s Food & Consumer Protection division licenses and inspects retail food establishments in Allen County to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. These establishments include restaurants, bars, school cafeterias, bakeries, grocery stores, convenience stores, retail food stores that sell packaged foods and mobile food vendors.

The Department of Health also provides training on food safety and sanitation issues to the foodservice industry, as well as providing information to consumers on safe food handling practices.

Below is information on state and local regulations, applications for permits, and helpful resources.

If you have additional questions about opening a new food establishment or getting a food permit, please call us at (260) 449-7562.

Rules/Ordinances

State of Indiana Regulations

Allen County Ordinance

Permit Applications & Guidelines

Annual Food Permits & Resources

If you plan to open a restaurant or retail food establishment in Allen County, you will need to obtain a permit from the Department of Health. For an overview of what is required, please review the guidelines. You may download and bring the application to the department along with the applicable fee. Please call (260) 449-7562 to speak with a staff member if you need guidance or additional information.

The following packets include all the documents and instructions needed for obtaining a retail food establishment permit, completing a remodel or submitting a change of owner.

Off-Site Cooking Permits & Resources

Temporary Food Permits & Resources

Temporary food licenses allow vendors to sell food at short-term events, such as fairs and festivals.  If you plan to provide food at a temporary location, then you need to review the requirements and apply for a food permit. We encourage first time operators to speak with us before applying for a permit. Please call (260) 449-7562 to speak with a staff member if you need guidance or additional information.

Mobile Food Permits & Resources

A mobile food unit is a unit or trailer that is moved from one site to another. Mobile units follow the same rules that restaurants do with a few minor additions or exceptions. If you wish to open a mobile unit, you will need to review the requirements and apply for a permit. Please call (260) 449-7562 to speak with a staff member if you need guidance or additional information.

Plan Reviews

The Department of Health reviews all plans for construction of a new food establishment or the remodeling of an existing establishment to make sure they meets the requirements of the Indiana Food Code.

Operators should submit plans to the Department of Health prior to obtaining any permits from the Allen County Building Department. Failure to do so could result in an immediate Stop Work Order and the assessment of fines. Please call (260) 449-7116 to speak with our plan reviewer prior to submitting plans.

Below is more information on submitting plans for review.

Fees

Fees vary based on the type of permit. See the applications for more information.

Make all checks or money orders payable to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health. If mailing the application, please include the completed and signed application form along with payment.

Mail applications to:

Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health
200 E. Berry St., Suite 360
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Inspections

Food establishments are inspected approximately twice a year by trained inspectors based on standards established by the Indiana Food Code and the Allen County Food and Beverage Ordinance. These visits are generally unannounced. The frequency of inspection is based on the type of food served. Restaurants preparing food from raw ingredients are inspected more often than convenience stores that serve only non-potentially hazardous foods, such as popcorn and soda. The Department of Health will also conduct inspections in response to a consumer complaint or as part of a foodborne illness investigation.

Violations found during an inspection fall into the critical or non-critical category. Critical items can have a direct impact on the safety of the food and the potential for foodborne illness. Noncritical items play a role in the overall performance of the facility but alone do not directly affect food safety. These are usually sanitation or maintenance issues and are the items most often observed by the public while dining.

Examples of critical violations:

  • Improper food temperature
  • Touching ready-to-eat foods without gloves
  • Food from an unapproved source
  • Poor personal hygiene and employee health

Examples of noncritical violations include:

  • Dirty floors
  • Equipment in poor repair
  • Workers not wearing hair restraints (hair nets or caps)
  • Outside trash not covered

Most violations can be corrected at the time of inspection. But if necessary, a follow-up inspection will occur to ensure the problem is corrected. Only in cases where there is an imminent threat to public health will a facility be ordered to be closed until the problem is corrected.

Below is more information on the Department of Health’s food inspection program.

Frequently Asked Questions about Restaurant Inspections & Closures

Foodborne Illness Complaints

The Department of Health investigates complaints of foodborne illness. We attempt to respond to complaints within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. If you wish to report a foodborne illness, please call us  at (260) 449-7562.

For more information on foodborne illness, visit our Food & Consumer Safety page.

General Sanitation Complaints

The Department of Health investigates general complaints about sanitation or unsafe food handling practices in food service establishments.We make every effort to respond within 1 business day of receiving the complaint. If you wish to make a complaint, please call us at  (260) 449-7562 or submit it to us online via our Complaint Portal.

Additional Resources