Retail Food

​Local health departments issue permits to qualified retail food operations like grocery stores, restaurants, temporary operations, concessions, food trucks and micro markets. 

Grocery Stores and Restaurants

Permits for restaurants and grocery stores are obtained through your local health department.

Further details on operating a grocery or restaurant

Temporary Food Operations

All temporary food vendors must have a permit to operate. Food may be prepared and served at or in conjunction with gatherings or events such as fairs and festivals. Food items and methods of preparation may be restricted during temporary events. All temporary food vendors must have a permit from the local health department. Permits are valid for up to 14 days at one location as long as the operator remains in good standing and compliance with regulations. 

Temporary Food Service Setup Guidelines

Restricted Food Concessions

Restricted concessions means a mobile or stationary food service establishment limited to preparing and serving only menu items and ingredients considered to be low risk for foodborne illness. Restricted concessions may include foods listed in Section 4 of the Kentucky Food Code. Potentially hazardous foods may not be provided by a restricted food concession. These concessions may operate with limited fixture requirements as defined in the Kentucky Food Establishment Act and State Retail Food Code. 

Food Trucks

Food trucks may not provide catering services unless they meet additional permitting requirements as a catering kitchen. These units are to be serviced and cleaned every day of operation. These operations are permitted by the local county health department and pay an annual fee to operate statewide. These units must contact the health department in each county where they operate for an inspection. Menu items must be approved before permitting. See Section 3 of the Kentucky Food Code

Micro Markets 

A micro market is a self-checkout retail food establishment where customers select products from open-rack displays or reach-in refrigerated coolers then scans the UPC bar code for each product at a payment kiosk. 

Micro Market Guidance Document 


​HACCP: Special Processes at Retail

Any Kentucky Retail Food establishment conducting a food process that has a high risk of foodborne illness associated with it must meet additional requirements before beginning operation. The establishment must have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan, and must obtain a Kentucky Request for Variance.

Use the links below to learn more about the products, processes, and approvals required to meet these extra requirements:

HACCP and Special Processes at Retail in Kentucky: A Starter Guide

Kentucky Request for Variance Form

Local Health Departments

​The state Department for Public Health develops statewide retail food program plans, objectives, policies and procedures and helps local health departments carry out the food protection program. Certified evaluation officers trained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provide training and guidance to local health departments. Local health departments administer the food safety program in counties and districts they serve. Every county or district has a certified retail food specialist and all food inspectors are registered sanitarians. 

For more information and retail food permit applications, contact your local health department