Food and Lodging

The Food and Lodging Sanitation Program at the Madison County Health Department is a component of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Health. This program is administered by the local Health Departments and mandated pursuant to Chapter 130A of the General Statutes of North Carolina. Environmental Health Specialists in this program are responsible for enforcing state statutes and rules, and local ordinances governing a number of different types of facilities:

  • Restaurants
  • Food Stands
  • Meat Markets
  • Nursing/Rest Homes
  • Concession Stands
  • Festivals
  • School Cafeterias
  • School Buildings
  • Lodging Facilities
  • Residential Care Homes
  • Adult Day Cares
  • Local Confinement (Jails)
  • Bed & Breakfast Homes
  • Bed & Breakfast Inns
  • Hospitals
  • Resident and Primitive Camps
  • Mobile Food Units & Pushcarts

The purpose of the Food and Lodging Sanitation Program is to ensure the public of safe food and clean facilities through planning and permitting of new and existing establishments, and continuous education of employees.
Please click on the links above for more information on the Food and Lodging Sanitation Program.

Environmental Health (cont)

Risk-Based Inspections
Environmental Health staff follows a risk-based inspection procedure which is based on guidelines produced by FDA Food Code. This type of inspection focuses on the most important aspects of food safety including the use of approved food products, proper food handling, good employee hygiene, effective cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces, and proper handling of chemicals.

Temporary Food Establishments (Festivals)

Madison County offers many festivals and events that take place each year. Vendors that prepare and serve potentially hazardous foods are required to obtain a permit from the local health department for each festival or event. Applications for event coordinators and food vendors are available at the environmental health office. These applications must be fully completed and submitted to the local health department prior to each event.
As of August 15th, 2009 a $75.00 fee will be required from each food vendor to be submitted to the health department with the application.
Please note that failure to complete the application, submit the required fee, and meet the requirements for a permit will result in denial of a permit to operate. For questions concerning temporary food establishments, please contact the environmental health office (828) 649-9598.

Non-Profit Organizations
There are many local groups and organizations that are non-profit such as churches, fire departments, and private clubs. These organizations are exempt from obtaining a permit to sell food pursuant to G.S. 130A-250. However, there is now a new application that must filled out, at no charge. These groups can sell food in conjunction with a fundraising event for a period of no more than 2 consecutive days, once a month. For example, if a church sells BBQ chicken on Friday and Saturday, they will not need a permit. However, if they choose to have another fundraiser on the last Saturday of the same month, they will have to obtain a permit for the second event.
Environmental health staff can offer assistance to groups about proper food handling, good personal hygiene, and effective cleaning and sanitizing of equipment. If you have questions about a non-profit fundraising event, or if you are organizing an event that requires a permit, please contact us (828) 649-9598

Plan Review and Fees

Before beginning construction, renovation, or operation:

Before beginning construction, renovation, or operation of any facility that sells potentially hazardous foods, you must obtain approval from the Health Department. Potentially hazardous foods include, but are not limited to, milk and milk products, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, raw seed sprouts, melons, and a number of vegetable products.
In addition, plans must be submitted prior to construction of changes in the dimensions of food preparation areas, seating capacity, or the addition of rooms to existing food service facilities.
The following items must be submitted for review:

  • A completed plan review application and a menu indicating the items to be prepared/served.
  • A site plan which identifies facility property lines, parking areas, and the location of outside solid waste and grease storage containers.
  • Details indicating equipment design, layout, and placement. The drawing must be accurately drawn to scale and the scale used identified on the plan. A complete equipment list including make and model numbers or manufacturers specifications must also be included.
  • Complete plumbing details which includes type of water supply and wastewater disposal, water supply piping, backflow prevention devices, and water heater (hot water generating equipment) specifications.
  • Wastewater information indicating the placement and direction of piping to include floor drains, floor sinks, and complete toilet specifications.
  • Complete finish schedule for floors, walls, and ceilings identifying the materials, color, and composition of these surfaces.
  • Electrical specifications identifying the placement of outlets, junction boxes, and panels.
  • Schedule of lighting fixtures and methods of shielding bulbs in food preparation, storage, and ware washing areas.
  • Ventilation diagram of exhaust, return, and hood system specifications

Buying, Assuming, or Re-Opening an Existing Establishment

Any given restaurant may be operating with a number of equipment or construction deficiencies that the management has elected to “live with” by simply taking the point deductions on each sanitation inspection. If you purchase an existing food service facility that has such deficiencies, you may be able to obtain a “transitional permit” allowing you to continue to operate the facility. All deficiencies listed in the permit must be corrected within 180 days, even those the current owner has “lived with.” Some changes may require the submission of plans for review.
If a transitional permit is issued, it will expire at the end of 180 days. At that time, all items listed on the transitional permit must be complete to obtain a full operation permit. If a full operating permit is not obtained, the facility must close until the remaining items are complete. A transitional permit can not be transferred, extended, or renewed.
Please note that only minor construction and equipment violations can be addressed on a transitional permit. If violations exist that would constitute an imminent hazard to public health, a transitional permit will not be issued and the facility must cease operation immediately. Likewise, cleanliness of the facility cannot be addressed on the transitional permit; appropriate sanitary conditions must be maintained at all times of operation. For further information on plan review and permitting of establishments, please contact us (828) 649-9598
Plan Review:
Restaurant/Lodging $200.00 (submitted 4 weeks prior to opening)

Temporary Food Establishment $75.00 (submitted 15 days prior to the event)

Restaurant Grades
Contact the Madison County Health Department Environmental Health Office for current restaurant grades (828) 649-9598.

Starting January 2, 2010, nearly all restaurants and bars in North Carolina and many lodging establishments will be smoke-free, thanks to S.L.2009-27 (G.S. 130A-496), otherwise known as North Carolina’s Smoke-Free Restruants and Bars Law.  On this site you will find information about the law, frequently asked questions, tools for businesses to prepare for the law and information for citizens.  Starting January 2, 2010, you can also come here for information on how to report a violation of the law.

Rules and Regulations

Food and Facilities Sanitation Program staff enforce a variety of statutes, rules, regulations, and local ordinances in food, lodging, and institutional facilities. Links to the rules used are provided below.
The link below will take you to state rules applicable to the following facility types:

  • Summer Camps
  • Hospitals, Nursing and Rest Homes, Sanitariums, Sanatoriums, and Educational and Other Institutions
  • Local Confinement Facilities (Jails)
  • Residential Care Facilities
  • Lodging Places (Hotels/Motels)
  • Bed and Breakfast Homes
  • Public, Private and Religious Schools
  • Public Swimming Pools
  • Restaurants and Other Foodhandling Establishments
  • Spanish Translation of Restaurant Rules
  • Meat Markets
  • Child Day Care Facilities
  • Bed and Breakfast Inns

Environmental Health Services Administrative Rules.


New Inspection Form for Food Service Facilities

With the adoption of the 2009 FDA Food Code, there is a new inspection form developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This new form is based on the FDA Food Code and focuses on the aspects of food service that pose the greatest risk for the contamination of food. Click on the link below to view a sample of the new inspection form. If you have specific questions about the new form, please contact the Environmental Health Specialist in your county.
Inspection Form for Food Service. (copy attached on disk DENR 4007)

Embargo Authority

Environmental Health Specialists now have the ability to embargo food that has been adulterated or misbranded. When food is found to be mislabeled, spoiled, from unapproved sources, or improperly handled the owner or manager can elect to voluntarily dispose of the food in question and denature it with chemicals. If the owner or manager refuses to discard this food, the food may be embargoed. Once the food is tagged and embargoed, the food is to remain undisturbed until a court of law reviews the situation.