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Licensing Requirements for Food Establishments

The following is a summary of municipal code requirements that must be met prior to obtaining a food service license in the City of Chicago. A licensee must comply with all of the regulatory provisions pertaining to the City of Chicago’s Municipal Code, chapters 4-8, 7-38, 7-40, and 7-42 (PDF 200K) and the Chicago Board of Health Rules and Regulations (PDF 282K).

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader (needed to view/print the previously referenced municipal codes).

No person shall engage in the business of a food establishment without first obtaining a food establishment license. For detailed information on obtaining a food license, contact the Chicago Department of Revenue at (312) 744-6775 and the Chicago Department of Public Health at (312) 746-8030.

Sanitation Certificate

All food establishments must have a person certified in Food Service Sanitation by the City of Chicago. This person is required to be on duty at all times when potentially hazardous food is prepared or served to ensure the safe handling of food.

Hand Washing Facilities

Adequate and convenient hand-washing facilities must be provided for all employees in food establishments. Such facilities must be located within or immediately adjacent to all toilet rooms.

In all food establishments that are newly constructed or remodeled, hand-washing facilities must be provided in the food preparation area.

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Dish/Utensil Washing

All food establishments manually washing and sanitizing dishes and utensils must provide a minimum of a three-compartment metal sink – equipped with an attached metal drain board, a grease interceptor, and running hot and cold water under city pressure.

Sinks must be big enough to permit complete immersion of the utensils and equipment.

All dishwashing machines must comply with the requirements of the plumbing section of the City of Chicago’s Municipal Code, chapters 4-8, 7-38, 7-40, and 7-42 (PDF 200K) and the Chicago Board of Health Rules and Regulations (PDF 282K).

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader (needed to view/print the previously referenced municipal codes).

In all food establishments that are newly constructed or remodeled, a separate utility sink is required for dispensing water for cleaning and maintaining floors, walls, ceilings, and windows, and to dispose of wastewater.

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Maintaining Food Temperature

All food establishments that display, prepare, or store potentially hazardous food must have adequate refrigerated facilities to provide proper food temperature in compliance with the Chicago Board of Health Rules and Regulations (PDF 282K).

  • Refrigerated food temperatures must be 40°F or below.
  • Frozen food temperatures must be 0°F or below.
  • Hot holding units must maintain food at 140°F.

All cooking units must comply with the cooking requirements of the Chicago Board of Health Rules and Regulations (PDF 282K).

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Light Shields

Light shields are required for all artificial lighting where food is prepared, served, and displayed, to protect against broken glass falling into food.

Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

Floors, walls, and ceilings, in areas where food or drink is stored or prepared or where utensils are washed, must be smooth and non-absorbent and have such construction as to be easily cleanable and washable.

All facilities newly constructed or remodeled are required to provide a 4-inch cove – a concave surface forming a junction between the wall and the floor.

Ventilation

All food establishments shall have adequate ventilation systems that comply with the requirements of the ventilation and fire prevention codes of the City of Chicago’s Municipal Code, chapters 4-8, 7-38, 7-40, and 7-42 (PDF 200K) and the Chicago Board of Health Rules and Regulations (PDF 282K).

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat Reader (needed to view/print the previously referenced municipal codes).

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