Food Safety Program

The mission of the food safety program is to reduce the incidence of food related illness in the community through education and enforcement of safe food handling procedures. This is accomplished through conducting inspections of food service establishments, providing education to food service workers, reviewing plans for food service operations and investigating complaints.

Quick Links

Food Service Information Links by Type of Operation:

Retail Food / Beverage Service
Mobile Food Service (Trucks, Trailers & Carts)
Temporary Food Service (Tents & Kiosks)
Cottage Food Service (Homemade)
Wholesale Food Manufacturer / Warehouse
Non-Profit Exempt Operators

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions):

There are several options for submission of a plan review application. Be sure to include all required documentation and the plan review application fee when submitting:

  1. To mail your application: Flathead County Environmental Health Department, 1035 First Ave W, Kalispell MT 59901
  2. To e-mail your application: ehealth@flathead.mt.gov
  3. To drop off your application in person at 40 11th St W. Suite 210, Kalispell MT 59901.

Your application will not be reviewed until payment has been received. You can call our office at 406-751-8130 to pay over the phone with a credit card or submit a check or money order in the amount due with the application.

Most operators will require a license, permit or certificate to serve food to the public. However, packaged food that is made by a licensed manufacturer and does not require time or temperature control for safety (bottled water, canned soda, bags of potato chips, candy bars, etc.) may be sold without a license, permit or certificate. Additionally, some limited food items that are made in a home kitchen may be sold directly to a consumer in a face-to-face transaction without a license, permit or certificate.

There are two basic types of food purveyor licenses: retail and wholesale. A retail license allows for the sale of food directly to the end consumer. A wholesale license is needed to sell food to other retailers, who in turn resell the food. It is possible for an operation to need both retail and wholesale licensure. Retail licenses can be further subtyped as a facility, a mobile food service (a truck, trailer or cart that changes location), a temporary food service (a tent or kiosk that operates associated with a temporary event) or a cottage food operation (low risk foods made in a home kitchen).

The first step is to complete and submit a plan review application for review. Each license type has its own plan review application. The figure below outlines the key steps to acquiring a license. In addition to the plan review application, a wholesale license requires a review by the State. Information regarding wholesale license approval by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Food and Consumer Safety Section can be found here.

In most cases a plan review will be required for all new operators. A plan review application is required for all new construction, major remodels (remodels that involve changes in plumbing fixtures, new equipment layout or new floor plans) or menu changes (not including adding a new beverage flavor). However, if the facility is already licensed and is only making a change of ownership without either a remodel or menu change, a plan review may not be required.

The review process for plan review applications typically takes 2-3 weeks. The amount of time the plan review process takes depends on the number of applications recently received by this office. In the Spring and Summer, this office sees an increase in application submissions, which can increase the review time to 4-6 weeks. For more information on this, read our Plan Review Memo.

You will receive an approval or denial letter by mail. The letter may contain conditions that need to be met before a license can be issued. Once any conditions listed are met, you will need to schedule an inspection with the inspector that performed the review.

Approval of plans are good for 90 days. A licensing inspection must be scheduled before this expiration. However, an additional 90-day extension will be granted upon request by the applicant. Longer extensions may be considered and granted with special circumstances.

Expect to answer questions about the facility and its operation. Licensing inspections are mostly about the physical facility. No problems should arise as long as you adhered to the approved plans. The inspector will review some operational expectations, future inspections expectations, as well as the annual license renewal process. Assuming the inspection goes well, a license application will be completed and mailed to the State accompanied by your first year’s license fee. You will need a check or money order to pay this fee. More details about what to expect on a preopening/licensing inspection are available on our preoperational inspection checklist.

A commissary agreement is required for all mobile, catering, and temporary food service operations. These operations need an approved location to acquire potable water and to dispose of waste water. They may also need a place to store food, prepare food, and clean dishes, utensils or other equipment. A private residence is not an approved commissary.

No. A commissary must be an approved commercial kitchen and/or an approved water/wastewater facility.

An establishment not connected to a public water system must have their water tested every quarter that the establishment operates for coliforms and once every three years for nitrates and nitrites. The recommended time to test is when water levels are highest and lowest, so during the seasons of fall and spring.

Other Helpful Links

Our Office

Physical Location:

40 11th St. W, Suite 210 (2nd Floor)
Kalispell, MT 59901

Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8 am -5 pm
Wednesday Closed 8:00am -9:30am Open 9:30am -5 pm

Contact Us

E-mail:

ehealth@flathead.mt.gov

Mail:

1035 1st Ave West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Phone:

406-751-8130 main line
406-751-8131 fax
406-751-8144 air quality line