Restaurants and Food Services


Public Health is required by the Ministry of Health to inspect all food service businesses and conduct a follow-up investigation in response to complaints. Food businesses must comply with the standards set out in the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17.

Inspections by the Public Health Inspectors involve food temperature checks, employee hand hygiene, sanitation of surfaces and equipment, maintenance and sanitation of washrooms, pest control, storage and removal of waste, etc.

Inspection results are available online at Check it! We inspect it

Food safety 

Food poisoning can be prevented if you follow food safety practices.

It is required for most food service operations that anyone planning to prepare and sell or give food to the public take a food safety training course.


Clean your hands, and wash and sanitize surfaces, and equipment. Do it often and do it well. Bacteria can get onto hands, cutting boards, knives, dishcloths, counters and the food itself.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 15 seconds when returning from breaks, changing tasks and before handling food or eating
  • Keep kitchen equipment, counters, taps, sinks and appliances clean and sanitize, using an approved sanitizer, e.g. bleach and water solution for sanitizing (1 tsp. of bleach per 1 litre of water), or other sanitizers approved by the regulations. Consult with your chemical supplier and public health inspector
  • Clean wiping clothes and store cloths in a sanitizing solution while in use
  • Wash all raw produce under cold, running water before cutting, serving or eating


Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria spread from one food to another. This can easily happen when cooked or ready-to-eat foods come into contract with raw meat or other uncooked foods, dirty hands, or contaminated utensils or cutting boards.

Keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate:

  • Store raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs below ready-to-eat foods
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and fruits/vegetables
  • Use separate plates or surfaces for raw meats - do not put ready to eat foods with raw meats
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator and prepare a new marinade each time for basting


You can reduce your risk of food poisoning by thoroughly cooking your food. You are taking chances whenever you eat meat, poultry or fish that is raw or only partly cooked.

Use a probe thermometer to check cooking temperatures for meat, poultry and fish at its thickest part.

Here is a guide to the proper internal cooking temperatures of common foods:

  • Pork: 71°C (160°F)
  • Poultry, whole (chicken, duck, turkey): 82°C (180°F)
  • Poultry, pieces or ground: 74°C (165°F)
  • Ground meat: 71°C (160°F)
  • Fish and seafood: 70°C (158°F)
  • Egg dishes: 74°C (165°F)
  • Mixed foods (soups, stews, casseroles, etc.): 74°C (165°F)

Preparation and serving tips:

  • Keep food hot at 60°C or above, after it is cooked until it is served
  • If you use your microwave, make sure the food is cooked evenly
  • Reheat leftovers to their original cooking temperature


Keeping cold foods cold will reduce the risk of food poisoning. Cold temperatures slow down the growth of bacteria.

  • Keep cold food cold - your refrigerator temperature should be 4°C or lower
  • Chill/cools foods quickly by using an ice bath or portioning to smaller portions or shallow containers
  • Refrigerate food immediately after delivery
  • Cool and refrigerate foods within two hours of preparation
  • Do not overfill your refrigerator/cooler - it needs space for the cool air to circulate and keep food cold
  • Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator. Use a microwave to defrost immediately before cooking
Food handler education and training

Every operator of a food service premise must ensure that there is at least one food handler, or supervisor, on the premise during operation, who has completed food handler certification training. We provide food handler training in partnership with Conestoga College. Details and course registration can be found on the Conestoga College website.

A complete list of accredited food handler training and certification programs for Ontario, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Provincial Food Handler Training Manual can be found on the Government of Ontario website.

New food service business 

Planning to open or renovate a food service business? Public Health must be notified.

Thinking about starting a home-based food business? Anyone interested in operating a home-based food business must comply with municipal zoning, fire and business licencing department requirements, before notifying and consulting Public Health. In Ontario, anyone preparing, providing or selling food to the public, must comply with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and must be inspected regularly by Public Health. In addition, it is recommended you contact your home insurance provider, to address liability and insurance concerns.

First steps

Next steps

The floor plans and notification form will be reviewed by a public health inspector to ensure all aspects of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation are met. The inspector may notify you to discuss details or any changes that must be made in order to be in compliance.

If you have questions regarding building permits or business licences, contact your local municipality.

Contact us if you have questions about the Ontario Food Premises Regulation. 


The inspector will observe and question food safety practices and check the premise and equipment to ensure the regulations are met and food safety practices are in place to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

The operator will receive a copy of the inspection report once the inspection is complete. The report will indicate corrective action(s) that are required and a date by which the correction is expected.

A re-inspection may be scheduled to verify that corrective actions have been completed. 

All inspections and re-inspections will be posted on our Check it! We inspect it website.

If a serious problem is identified during an inspection that poses an immediate health risk to the client or the provider, the facility may be ordered to remove the immediate risk, close or stop providing a service until corrective action is taken. 

During food safety inspections, Public Health Inspectors look for the following:

Food temperature control
  • Cold food is below 4°C/40°F
  • Hot food is above 60°C/140°F
  • Foods are cooked, cooled or reheated safely
  • Probe thermometers are used to check internal food temperatures
  • Accurate indicating thermometers are in all temperature controlled units such as refrigerators, coolers, freezers, and hot-holding units
  • Frozen foods are frozen solid
Food is protected from contamination 
  •  Cooked and ready-to-eat foods are stored separate or above raw food
  • Foods are covered
  • Utensils are used to reduce direct hand contact with prepared food
  • Water that is safe to drink is used for food preparation
  • Chemicals and pesticides are labelled and stored away from food and food preparation areas
  • Foods are stored off the floor
Employee hygiene and hand washing 
  • Food handlers wash their hands thoroughly before and after handling food; and between tasks when hands may become contaminated
  • Hot and cold running water, soap in a dispenser and paper towels are available at the designated hand wash sinks
  • Hand wash sinks are unobstructed and cleared for hand washing only, and not used for food preparation, dish-washing or storage of utensils
  • Food handlers wear clean outer garments and hair is restrained
Food contact surfaces and equipment are clean and sanitary 
  • All food contact surfaces are kept clean and in good repair
  • Cracked utensils or deeply grooved food contact surfaces/cutting boards are discarded or replaced
  • All utensils, dishes, and equipment are washed either by hand using the two or three sink method (wash-rinse-sanitize) or in a mechanical dishwasher, as required 
Non-food contact surfaces and equipment are clean and sanitary 
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings are maintained clean and in good repair
  • All other surfaces and equipment are clean
  • All surfaces are smooth, non-absorbent, and easy to clean
  • All equipment and furniture are organized and maintained in a manner that helps with sanitary maintenance and operation of the facility
  • Any equipment that is broken or not used in the operation of the food premises must be removed
  • Adequate lighting is maintained, as required in the Ontario Building Code
  • Exhaust hoods are maintained clean and adequate levels of ventilation are maintained, to prevent conditions that are a health hazard
  • Mechanical dishwashers and other equipment are maintained as required
Pest control 
  • No pest activity
  • Any openings are covered to prevent pests from entering the food premises
  • Food/food debris or water sources for pests are eliminated and cleaned up
  • Pest control records are available and onsite for the last 12 months showing actions that are being taken to prevent pest activity*

* Obtaining a contract with a licensed pest control operator is not a requirement but strongly recommended

Maintenance and sanitation of washrooms 
  • Washrooms, toilets, and change rooms are clean at all times
  • Toilet paper, garbage containers, a constant supply of hot and cold running water, soap in a dispenser and either a cloth roller towel in a mechanical device, a supply of paper towels, a supply of clean single service towels or a hot air dryer at the hand wash basin, are provided
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings are clean
Storage and removal of waste 
  • Solid and liquid waste are removed from the food preparation area on a daily basis or more often, as necessary
  • Waste is stored and removed in a sanitary manner
  • Waste receptacles are leak-proof, pest-proof, non-absorbent, and have tight fitting lids 
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