Requirements for Food Establishment Operations


Floors, walls, and ceilings must be smooth, durable, easily cleanable, and non-absorbent for areas subject to moisture, such as food preparation areas, walk-in refrigerators, warewashing areas, toilet rooms, and areas subject to flushing or spray cleaning methods. Linoleum, tiles, or quarried tiles are commonly used for floors in these areas. Walls may be drywall and painted a light color (preferably white) enamel. The floor wall juncture in these areas shall be coved and closed to an opening no larger than 1/32 inch. Another suggestion for a wall surface in these areas is FRP board (fiberglass reinforced plastic), commonly referred to as glass board. This would be a good choice in the warewashing area. Many establishments use polished sheet aluminum or stainless steel behind the cooking equipment and below the hood. This surface tolerates heat well, is easily cleanable, and looks good. Utility service lines and pipes may not be exposed which would obstruct or prevent cleaning of the floors, walls, or ceilings. Carpeting may be used in the dining area. Carpeting is not approved in the restrooms.

Lighting: Light bulbs shall be shielded, coated, or otherwise shatter resistant in areas where there is exposed food, clean equipment, utensils, and linens or unwrapped single-service and single-use articles. The lighting intensity will be:

  • In walk-in refrigeration units, dry-food storage areas, and in other areas in rooms during periods of cleaning, at least 10 foot candles at a distance of 30 inches above the floor;
  • In areas where fresh produce or packaged foods are sold or offered for consumption; areas used for handwashing, warewashing, equipment and utensil storage; and in toilet rooms, at least 20 foot candles at a distance of 30 inches above the floor; and
  • At a surface where a food employee is working with unpackaged potentially hazardous food or with food utensils and other equipment such as knives, slicers, grinders, or saws, where employee safety is a factor, at least 50 foot candles.

Your area food inspector can assist you in determining if your lighting is adequate.

Handwashing sinks: A handwashing lavatory shall be equipped with hot and cold running water through a mixing valve faucet provided with a supply of hand cleanser and disposal paper towels and shall be located:

  • To allow convenient use by employees in food preparation, food dispensing, and warewashing areas; and
  • In or immediately adjacent to toilet rooms.
Toilet rooms: Toilet rooms shall be completely enclosed and provided with a tightfitting and self-closing door. Restrooms will be vented to the outside. The ladies' restroom shall be provided with a covered waste receptacle.

Service sink: A mop sink or curbed floor sink must be provided and conveniently located for the cleaning of mops and for the disposal of mop water and similar liquid waste. Maintenance tools, such as brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners, and similar equipment will be stored so they do not contaminate food, equipment, utensils, etc. It is recommended a storage location, such as a broom closet be provided.

Warewashing: Utensils, dishes, etc., must be (1) washed; (2) rinsed; (3) sanitized; and (4) air-dried. This may be accomplished by the use of an approved dishwasher or manually washing in an approved three-compartment sink provided with drain boards. Hot water generation and distribution systems will be sufficient to meet the peak hot water demands throughout the food establishment.

Sanitization: Utensils, dishes, and other food contact surfaces manually washed will be sanitized by use of approved chemicals or immersion (for at least 30 seconds) in hot water of at least 171°F. Common chemical sanitizers include, but are not limited to, chlorine, acids, iodine, and quaternary ammonium compounds. The most common chlorine sanitizer used is unscented household bleach. A test kit must be provided to determine sanitizer strength.

Equipment - Countertops, Tabletops: Must be smooth, non-absorbent, easily cleanable, and in good repair. However, stainless, Formica, or similar surface is also acceptable. Wood countertops such as bakers tables of hard maple are acceptable. Permanent countertops and sinks will be sealed to the walls with silicone. Heavy equipment such as large floor mixers will be sealed to the floor.

Refrigeration equipment: Recommend commercial NSF approved equipment because of rapid recovery capability. However, refrigerators capable of maintaining foods at 45°F or below and freezers capable of maintaining frozen foods frozen are approved. Refrigeration equipment will be large enough to accommodate foods requiring refrigeration without overloading. Temperature indicating thermometers are required in all refrigeration units, will be accurate to a plus or minus 3°F, and located in the warmest part of the unit.

Cooking/hot holding equipment: Commercial NSF approved equipment is recommended, however, stoves, ovens, steam tables, etc., capable of cooking and/or holding the food at safe temperatures may be approved. A food temperature measuring device shall be provided [a metal-stem, bi-therm (0°F to 220°F) thermometer or thermocouple] to ensure attainment and maintenance of proper food temperatures.

Food contact surfaces: Equipment and utensils shall be designed and constructed to retain their characteristic qualities under normal use conditions. Materials used in the construction of these items shall be safe, durable, corrosion resistant, and non-absorbent, and sufficient in weight and thickness to withstand repeated ware washing. The finish shall be a smooth, easily cleanable surface, resistant to pitting, chipping, grating, scratching, scoring, distortion, and decomposition.

Non-food contact surfaces of equipment that are exposed to splash, spillage, or other food soiling, or that require frequent cleaning shall be constructed of a corrosion-resistant, non-absorbent, and smooth material.

Single-service items (plastic silverware, beverage cups, etc.) shall be stored at least six inches off the floor in an approved area. Beverage cups shall be dispensed from an approved dispenser to avoid unnecessary bare hand contact with the lip-contact surfaces.

The ventilation hood system shall be of sufficient capacity to prevent grease or condensation from collecting on walls and ceilings. Filters or other grease extracting equipment shall be designed to be readily removable for cleaning and replacement if not designed to be cleaned in place. Contact the Nebraska Fire Marshal's Office for additional hood requirements.

Food storage shelving - refrigerated food: Shelving shall be nonabsorbent, such as wire or metal louvered to facilitate air circulation. Plastic metal shelving is acceptable as it resists rusting and is cheaper than stainless steel.

Dry storage: Shelving shall be wire or solid shelving. Wood shelves shall be adequately sealed, and shelves shall keep food at least six inches above the floor.

Culinary sinks (food preparation) shall be drained through an air gap, not with a direct connection to the sewer. Ice machines and ice bins shall be drained through an air gap. The water supply lines to a water-cooled ice machine shall be protected from possible back flow by use of a dual check valve or other acceptable device. Many newer water-cooled ice machines come equipped with a built-in back flow prevention device already installed. Check with the installing technician for verification.

Ice Bin/Cold Plates: Beverage tubing and cold plates may not pass through ice used for drinks. Ice bins with the cold plates built in as an integral part of the equipment are required in all new establishments or when existing establishments change ownership.

Drinking water shall be from an approved source such as a public water system or non-public water system that is constructed, maintained, and operated according to law and is approved by the regulatory authority. If drinking water is to be obtained from a non-public water system, quarterly sampling by the Nebraska Department of Health is required. Sample result reports for the non-public water system shall be retained on file in the food establishment. Your inspector will assist you with setting up your water sampling schedule.

Sewage shall be disposed of through an approved facility such as a public sewage system or an individual sewage disposal system that is sized, constructed, maintained, and operated according to law. You may want to contact the Department of Environmental Control for assistance with an individual sewage disposal system.

Exterior doors shall be solid, self-closing, and tight fitting.

Outdoor garbage and refuse storage: Outdoor storage surface for refuse shall be constructed of non-absorbent materials such as concrete or asphalt and shall be smooth, durable, and sloped to drain. Receptacles for refuse shall be durable, cleanable, insect and rodent resistant, leak proof, and non-absorbent. Receptacles shall be designed and constructed to have tight fitting lids, doors, or covers and kept covered. Outdoor storage area cleanliness shall be maintained.