Food Digest-November 2015





Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from your local health department to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and managers about food safety as recommended by Minnesota Food Code 4626.



There has been some confusion at special events when operators are asked for their short term food license. As a reminder, only licenses that allow the production and service of food are accepted. A catering or alcohol license issued from the state is not adequate licensing when serving food at special events. In the cities that the Hennepin County Health Department inspects, only Hennepin County or State of Minnesota issued short term food licenses are accepted for food service.

For more information on licensing within Hennepin County, visit


We welcome comments or ideas about our newsletter. 

Amy Zagar

Hannah Marschinke

No smoking reminder


Under the Minnesota Food Code, a food establishment shall meet the requirements of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, Minnesota Statutes, sections 144.411 to 144.417, and the rules adopted under those sections. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) and the Freedom to Breathe (FTB) provisions are in place to protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

In early 2015, Hennepin County updated Ordinance 24 and added the use of Electronic Cigarettes to the definition of “Smoking.” Thus, a quick reminder to all Hennepin County facilities and operators that virtually all smoking in indoor public places and indoor places of employment is prohibited by law.

Smoking prohibited areas:

  • Bars, restaurants, and private clubs
  • Office and industrial workplaces
  • Retail stores
  • Common areas of rental apartment buildings, hotels and motels
  • Public transportation, including taxis
  • Work vehicles, if more than one person is present
  • Home offices with one or more on-site employees or used as a place to meet or deal with customers- during work hours
  • Public and private educational facilities
  • Auditoriums, arenas and meeting rooms
  • Day care premises
  • Health care facilities and clinics

As operators of Food, Beverage and/or Lodging facilities, your responsibility in ensuring a safe environment away from secondhand smoke for everyone is very important. Your responsibilities include: 

  • Make reasonable efforts to prevent indoor smoking
  • Post "No Smoking" signs
  • Ask persons who smoke in prohibited areas to refrain from smoking and to leave if they refuse
  • Refrain from providing smoking equipment in facility
  • Refuse to serve noncompliant persons
  • Be knowledgably up to date with local laws and ordinances


no smoking sticker

Hennepin County requires all Food, Beverage and Lodging facilities to have no smoking signs at every public entrance in their facility.

The MCIAA does not prohibit outdoor smoking at your facility, regardless of distance from building openings. However, be aware that every city may have different local government ordinances regarding the allowance of outdoor secondhand smoke. Please contact your local government to be updated on local ordinances and to ensure that you are in compliance. Establishments may also create their own outdoor smoking policies, i.e. Outdoor smoking is prohibited in patio area.

For more information and resources on MCIAA please visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website.


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Do I need a license?


Starting a food business in Hennepin County can be an exciting and daunting task. As an owner in our jurisdiction, it is your responsibility to consider everything that will make your business compliant with the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County Ordinance 3. Obtaining a food license is one of the most important steps in ensuring compliance. Under MN Rule 4626.1755-1780 in conjunction with Hennepin County Ordinance 3 Section 4, nobody shall operate a food establishment without first obtaining a license.

If someone you know is interested in using your facility’s space for their business, they must obtain a license from the proper licensing agency. It is important to understand that without a proper license, any activity that is taking place in your licensed kitchen becomes your liability as the license holder. According to the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County Ordinance 3, licenses are NOT transferable by person or place. Also, a plan review must be submitted for review by the person interested in sharing your facility space. It needs to be determined if the facility can support both operations, prior to approval for their license to operate.

It is also important to remember that a restaurant license allows you to cook and prepare food within the walls of your restaurant only. Cooking and preparing outdoors is not allowed unless you have a temporary special event/ itinerant license from the Health Department. Wait staff may bring food from the kitchen to customers sitting outdoors or customers may visit a buffet line indoors and take the food outdoors without an additional license. To obtain an itinerant license visit our website for an application.

To learn more about the licensing process, visit the Plan Review tab on our website or call our main office at 612-543-5200 to speak with an inspector on call. 

Ordinance reminder

HS Temp

There are requirements for the minimum and maximum temperature that is allowed at the hand washing sinks in a food establishment as stated below in Ordinance 3 (Food Protection). Note that the maximum allowable water temperature in a sink that is used by children is lower than that of other food establishments.


E. Minnesota Rules, Chapter 4626.1050, A is amended to read as follows: A hand washing lavatory shall be equipped to provide water to the user through a mixing valve or combination faucet, at a temperature of at least 43 degrees C (110 degrees F), but not more than 54 degrees C (130 degrees F) in a food establishment and not more than 48 degrees C (120 degrees F), in a sink that is used by children such as a school, day care, or preschool.

Web resources

Visit for information on:

  • General environmental health
  • Basic food safety classes
  • Temporary food stand licensing
  • Food license information, categories and fee schedule
  • New construction or remodeling application

Radon information and test kits 

Septic System requirements and procedures

Body Art Licensing information (tattooing and piercing) 

Beaches in Hennepin County

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