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Environmental Health

Food Safety Program: Violation Types

After conducting an inspection of your facility, the Environmental Health Inspector will issue a placard to the facility based on the major and minor violations of critical risk factors observed. Different violations reflect different levels of risk to the public's health and safety.


Violations are defined in the California Health and Safety Code (Part 7 - California Retail Food Code). Major violations of critical risk factors pose an imminent public health danger and require immediate correction and/or closure of a facility.


The following list defines the critical risk factors observed during an inspection.


Communicable disease
Employees with a communicable disease shall be excluded from the food facility/preparation of food. Gloves shall be worn if an employee has cuts, sores, or rashes. No employee shall commit any act that may contaminate or adulterate food, food-contact surface, or utensils.

Hand washing
Employees are required to wash their hands before beginning work; before handling food/equipment/utensils; as often as necessary, during food preparation, to remove soil and contamination; when switching from working with raw to ready-to-eat foods, after touching body parts; using the toilet; or any time when contamination may occur.

Improper hot/cold holding temperatures
Two or more food items cannot be stored in separate containers/compartments or pooled eggs held in temperatures between 60˚F and 125˚F, with exceptions.

Time as a public health control
Written procedures for restricting time of food at unsafe temperatures to four hours is required; time control programs must be adhered to by staff.

Improper cooling methods
All potentially hazardous food shall be RAPIDLY cooled from 135˚F to 70˚F, within 2 hours, and then from 70˚F to 41˚F within 4 hours. Cooling shall be by one or more of the following methods: in shallow containers; separating food into smaller portions; adding ice as an ingredient; using an ice bath, stirring frequently; using rapid cooling equipment; or using containers that facilitate heat transfer.

Improper cooking time/temperatures
Food must be cooked to temperatures required by the California Health and Safety Code. Comminuted meat, or any food containing comminuted meat, shall be heated to 155˚F. Eggs and foods containing raw eggs, and single pieces of meat (including beef, veal, lamb, pork and approved game meat) shall be heated to 145˚F. Poultry, comminuted poultry, stuffed fish, and stuffed meat/poultry shall be heated to 165˚F.

Any potentially hazardous food cooked, cooled and reheated for hot holding or serving shall be heated to 165˚F.

Food in poor condition; unsafe/adulterated
Any food is adulterated if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it impure or injurious to health.

Food contact surfaces not cleaned/sanitized
Food contact surfaces are to be cleaned and sanitized at an adequate frequency; a sanitizer is to be provided in the 3-compartment sink or final rinse of the dishwasher; and food contact surfaces must be washed, rinsed and sanitized before change in use.

Food obtained from an unapproved source
All food shall be obtained from an approved source.

Prohibited foods offered in licensed health care facilities/public and private schools
No raw or under-cooked food should be served at locations with highly susceptible populations. Examples of raw or under-cooked foods include unpasteurized juice, raw or under-cooked meat, etc.

No hot water/no water
Food preparation establishment shall have an adequate, protected, pressurized, potable supply of hot water (120˚F) and cold water shall be provided at all times.

Sewage/Wastewater disposal inoperative
A food facility cannot operate if sewage backs up into the facility, if a grease trap over flows or clogs, or when there are no operable toilets. All liquid waste must drain to an approved fully functioning sewage disposal system.

Rodents/Roaches/Flies/Other Animals
Each food facility shall be kept free of vermin.