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SF Health Network
Environmental Health

Food Safety Program: Permit & Fee Exemptions

Permit Exemptions

Food Facilities on Federal and State Properties -  a Permit will not be issued and no inspections or complaint investigations will be done by the Department of Public Health Environmental Health Section.  Inquiries or complaints about food facilities need to be directed to the appropriate Federal or State agency.

Limited Food Operations -  food service is incidental to the primary purpose of the business, and utensils or equipment are not used, or used only minimally. Example: a bank that offers coffee or occasional donuts for customer self-service. If you're not  sure that your business is a Limited Food Operations business, please call EHS (Environmental Health Section) at (415) 252-3800 and you will be directed  to a Health Inspector who can help you.

Non-profit establishments - may be eligible for Permit exemption depending on the nature, volume, and frequency of their food operation.  Each establishment is to be evaluated by the Principal Inspector and Assistant Director. Please contact EHS at (415) 252-3800 or in writing.

Limited homeless feeding programs - these programs are limited in terms of the number of people served and the frequency with which food is distributed. Example: a church that offers meals on a seasonal basis or that distributes food once a month. No Permit is required. Inspections are not done, unless complaints are received, or unsafe food handling practices are observed. Enforcement action may be take, even though a Permit has not been issued.

Halfway houses - if residents use the kitchen to prepare their own meals, a Permit is not required. If meals are prepared for residents, a Permit is required.

Motes/hotels/bed-and-breakfast establishments - if a continental breakfast is served, a Permit is not required. Example: breakfast may consist of coffee, tea, juice, milk, cereal, pastry or toast. If the facility engages in additional food preparation and service, a Permit is required.

Vending machines - a Permit is not required.

Fee Exemptions

Non-profit establishments - that are required to have a Permit, may request an exemption from license fees by writing to the EHS Director describing the nature of their operation. Indicate the number of people served, type of meals, and frequency. Unless a specific request for fee exemption has been submitted, applicable filing and license fees are applied. Example: Regularly scheduled homeless feeding programs or other disadvantaged groups with daily or regular feeding schedule, must have a Permit.

Blind operators - blind operators of food establishments who are sponsored by the Business Enterprise Program of the California Department of Rehabilitation.

Veterans -  food establishment operators claiming veteran's exemptions must present proof of veteran status and write a letter to the EHS Director requesting exemption from license fees.

Food preparation and service establishments used exclusively by day care for children.

Food preparation and service establishments funded through the San Francisco Commission on Aging for nutrition projects for elderly individuals