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Food Guidelines

Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements

Any new food establishment in Jennings County, Indiana must complete the following plan review and submit it to the Health Department before construction begins:     Food Laws

Food Establishment Inspections - To ensure compliance with state and local laws, the food protection staff inspects each facility on a frequency based on a risk analysis of the establishment, the type of menu offered for sale and the type of population served.

There are 36 broad categories on the food safety inspection form and 26 of these categories can be categorized as either critical or non-critical violations. Critical violations are defined as those that are more likely to directly contribute to food-borne disease. Non-critical violations are those that are contributing factors but generally are not the primary cause of an outbreak. The most common and most dangerous critical violations are various degrees of temperature abuse. Potentially hazardous foods must be kept at or above 135° F or at or below 41° F. Failure to do so, or failure to cook food to the proper temperature or cool cooked food quickly (within 6 hours) to below 41°F, is the leading cause of food-borne illness.

Complaint Investigations - A complaint investigation is generated when the public informs the Jennings County Health Department that they have a concern about the sanitary conditions or food-handling procedures of a food service establishment. Often times, a routine inspection and a complaint investigation will be performed simultaneously.

Food Borne Illness and Outbreak Investigations

A food-borne illness outbreak is defined as an illness that occurs between two or more people who are unrelated and have eaten a common food that a lab has confirmed as the source of the outbreak. Many cases of food-borne illnesses go unreported as consumers are unaware that gastrointestinal symptoms are often caused by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or toxins produced by certain bacteria. If a food service establishment is suspected of causing a food-borne illness or an outbreak, the following procedures are used:

  • A food case history is taken and recorded from the consumer(s) who became ill.
  • The food specialist staff members visit the food-service establishment where suspect food was served.
  • Staff from Food Protection will perform an investigation at the suspected establishment. Employees will be interviewed, food handling procedures are scrutinized and sanitary conditions of the establishment are documented. Employees and management are also asked about their health status and stool samples will be collected if needed.
  • Food samples are collected if available and sent to the Indiana State Department of Health Lab in Indianapolis.
  • If an outbreak is confirmed, personnel from ISDH will assist in the epidemiology investigation, collect and analyze samples, and assist the local department in developing a sanitation plan for the food establishment implicated in the outbreak.

If you have a complaint about a retail food establishment please contact the Jennings County Health Department at 812.352.3024