Food Safety

New Online Food Handler Training

The Norfolk Department of Public Health now provides food handler training online through "State Food Safety" here. Purchase the online training course for $15. The class is offered in full audio and visual in English, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese. You may be able to complete the course and test in less than 90 minutes. After you complete the course, you will be able to print your food handler card.

Food Service Managers Educational Programs

A certified food service manager is required at most food service establishments. The certification process occurs when individuals demonstrate through a certification program that they have met specified food safety knowledge standards.

The Bureau of Environmental Health offers classes for Manager Certification throughout the year. The certified food manager’s card is valid for five years and should be renewed prior to expiration. For more information call 757-683-2712.

Food Handlers Educational Programs

Individuals who work with unpackaged and/or packaged food, food equipment or utensils, or food contact surfaces are required to possess a food service (handlers) card. Food service cards are required prior to employment and are valid for two years. A food service card issued by another city may be honored. Learn about our Food Service Employees’ Classes.

Food Protection

The Bureau of Environmental Health Food Protection Program is responsible for the permitting and inspection of retail and institutional food facilities. These include restaurants, convenience stores, groceries, public and private schools, universities, homes for adults, nursing homes, day care centers, hospitals, jail and detention facilities, mobile vendors and push carts, and religious institutions.

Facilities are inspected throughout the year to determine compliance with federal, state, and local regulations with the goal of protection from foodborne illness and communicable disease. Complaints regarding food establishments are investigated with priority response given to both citizen complaints of foodborne illness and complaints concerning substantial hazards to the public health. To register a complaint, please call 757-683-2712. View Chapter 18 of the Norfolk City Code governing Food Establishments or the FDA Model Food Code for more information.

Foodborne Illness Investigation

"Foodborne illness in the United States is a major cause of personal distress, preventable death, and avoidable economic burden" as stated by the Food and Drug Administration. It has been estimated that from 6.5 to 33 million people become ill from microorganisms in food, resulting in as many as 9,000 needless deaths every year. The wide range in cases of foodborne illness is due to the uncertainty about the number that go unreported. The annual cost of foodborne illness in terms of pain and suffering, reduced productivity, and medical costs is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

The Bureau of Environmental Health responds to all reports of suspected foodborne illnesses implicating food sold or served in Norfolk. Learn more about Foodborne Illness Investigations.

Food Establishment Plan Review

Plans and specifications for new and remodeled food establishments are reviewed in order to determine compliance with the rules and regulations governing food establishments using federal, state, and local guidelines. A floor plan, which includes an equipment layout and finish schedule as well as menu, should be submitted prior to any construction. Plans shall be reviewed prior to issuance of building permits by the city code official. For additional information you may call 757-683-2712.

2023 Food Establishment Application

Mobile Vendors & Push Carts

Mobile food preparation units, which include mobile vendor units and push carts are vehicles used for a variety of food preparation activities. These units must operate daily from a commissary in order to facilitate cleaning and servicing operations, food storage and renewal of supplies. This also includes the flushing and draining of liquid waste to an approved sewerage system and water servicing equipment that is approved.

With this said a commissary is a location, designed for the sanitary storage and servicing needs of the mobile units. Approved commissaries hold valid health permits and receive regular inspections. The vendor shall obtain written permission authorizing their use of the approved commissary and shall provide that to the health department. In order to promote the safe and sanitary handling of food, these mobile units are inspected, as are their commissaries. They may be limited in what they can offer due to equipment restrictions.

Mobile vendors and pushcarts are required to also purchase a tracking decal, which needs to be revalidated each year. They may be restricted to particular areas of the city due to land use and zoning requirements. The annual state permit fee is $40. There is an additional $30 annual local decal tracking fee. For more information call 757-683-2712.

Norfolk Mobile Unit Application
Norfolk Checklist for New Food Establishments
Norfolk 2023 Base of Operation Commissary Agreement

Temporary Food Service & Outdoor Events

Temporary permits are issued for food booths operating at a single event or celebration, such as a fair, carnival, or festival. If the food is not prepared and handled in a sanitary manner, the public’s health may be at risk. The attached safe food handling guidelines designed to protect the public health and an application is provided. Please complete the application and submit for review. The fee for this service is $40. Call 757-683-2712 for further information.

Temporary Food Service Requirements (PDF)