Starting a Retail Food Business

To open or remodel a retail food service business in Clark County requires elements of planning, knowledge of Federal, State, and local food codes, and a basic understating of food safety.  The Indiana Food Code defines a retail food establishment that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption, examples include restaurants, satellite or catered feeding locations, markets, grocery stores, etc...

All of these types and additional establishments located in Clark County are required to register with the Clark County Health Department. 


Protocol for Opening a New Food Establishment

Retail food establishments are required to submit a plan review (detailed drawing or schematic) to the Clark County Health Department regardless of whether building a new facility or remodeling an existing structure.  There are State and local regulations that may affect the facility design and/or construction.  To verify compliance with these regulations apply your facility designs to  410 IAC 7-24 and the Clark County Sanitary Code. Once you have reviewed these documents, follow the bullets below to guide your submittal.

  • Confirm your state approval or apply for approval by contacting the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

  • Submit state approved plans to the Clark County Health Department for plan review at least 6 weeks prior to opening.

  • Submit your plans, spec sheets, equipment cut sheets, Application for Plan Review, Plan Review Packet, and Food Service Permit Application with applicable fees listed on the application. These fees must be paid at the time of plan submittal.  If your facility utilizes an outdoor grill as a means of cooking, please click Outdoor Grilling Guidance and Tips for additional documents and requirements.

  • Your plans will be submitted to an Environmental Health Specialist for review. After which, a letter approving plans or requesting revisions will be sent to the owner and/or architect.

  • After plans are approved you must pay for your Food Establishment Permit. The fee amount depends on the menu type as defined in Indiana Retail Food Code.

  • After all approvals and permits have been granted, please contact your designated Environmentalist to schedule a pre-opening inspection. This inspection will help you prepare your establishment for the scheduled opening and greatly reduce potential critical issues.  This inspection shall be conducted at least 1 week prior to opening.  At this time, you should submit a "Disaster Plan Information Sheet", please click link and provide completed form to your inspector.

  • The final step is the opening inspection. This inspection should be conducted on your opening day or during the preparation for a V.I.P. or staff celebration prior to opening of the facility to the public.  Opening days or V.I.P. events cannot take place during holidays, weekends, or hours outside the normal business hours of the Health Department.  An exception to this policy would be a facility that only has operating hours outside the normal office hours of the Clark County Health Department.   Food handling techniques will be assessed, food temperatures will be taken, and any final questions you may have will be addressed. If no critical violations are found, you will be issued a Food Service Permit. This permit must be displayed in public view. In addition, your facility may be required to obtain a "certified food handler", to determine if this will be required of your facility click the Food Handler Certification link.

  • After opening, you should regularly consult your Health Inspector for any questions that may arise. The Clark County Health Department will make efforts to inspect the facility based on risk assessments. Additional inspections may be necessary if complaints are filed with the Health Department.

  • A copy of the 410 IAC 7-24 is required to be maintained or located in the food service establishment, this document may be downloaded from the Indiana State Department of Health  or purchased as a bound book at Budget Print Center in Jeffersonville, IN for a nominal fee. 

Additional Guidance Documents For Planning

Commercial On-Site Sewage Disposal System Procedures (If in rural part of Clark County)                                     Food Security Preventative Measures Guidance                                                                                                                    Operator Response to Inspection                                                                                                                                                410 IAC 7-24                                                                                                                                                                                    Clark County Sanitary Code



More Information

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health plan review section if your proposed establishment would be considered a commercial facility/operation or a facility not regulated by the Clark County Health Department.


Food Service Homepage     Deer Processing     Food Handler Certification     Food Recalls     Food Service Permits
Outdoor Grilling     Protocol for New Food Establishments     Temporary Food Service Establishments     Water Supply Emergencies

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