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Food Service Establishments

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Restaurants, food stands and other places that prepare food for sale to the public must get a permit from the Health Department.  These businesses are inspected 1 to 4 times per year, depending on the menu's complexity and the various cooking, cooling, and reheating processes.  The goal of each inspection is to identify and correct any conditions that might lead to foodborne illnesses.

establishment excellence

Establishment Excellence Program

Orange County Environmental Health introduces a program that will identify food service establishments that excel (score of 98 or better for 2015-2016) or make extra effort to do more than the minimum to comply with rules by participating in specialized food processes training or HACCP training.   Environmental Health recognizes food service establishment owners for their quality efforts.  Environmental Health hopes to motivate food service establishment to address lingering maintenance and equipment problems that lower their scores or to reinforce the safety of their specialized food products.   This is a voluntary program with the consent of the establishment.  Establishments that are eligible include restaurants, dining halls, and cafeterias.   A decal posted on the door will supplement the information Orange County consumers can already access about the inspection grade history. 

Click here for a list of establishments who received this distinction for 2015-2016. 


Reduced Oxygen Packaging of potentially hazardous foods (raw meats and poultry, raw veg, and frozen fish)with two-barrier methods  YES  
Reduced Oxygen Packaging of potentially hazardous ready-to-eat food with one-barrier method  YES  YES
Reduced Oxygen Packaging to extend refrigerated hold time longer than 14 days   YES  YES
Sous-vide cooking within standard final cook temperature and cold-holding time   YES  
Sous-vide cooking outside of standard final cook temperature and cold-holding time  YES  YES
Preparing and storing food using cook-chill   YES  
Preparing and storing food using the cook-chill method and holding for longer than 72 hours  YES  YES
Curing to extend shelf life or outside of refrigeration  YES  YES
Smoking as a form of preservation  YES  YES
Acidification of food as preservation, such as sushi rice and fermentation of potentially hazardous foods, or using natural or artificial additives to extend shelf-life or outside the regulated EPA approved use  YES  YES
Sprouting beans or seeds, serving raw or cooked  YES YES 
Definitions and regulations may be found in the NC Food Code.  

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point

NC Food Code requires a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for food processes needing more active managerial control during production.  HACCP plans must be submitted to and approved by Orange County Environmental Health.  Contact us for the sample HACCPs. 


There are also Specialized Food Processes that need additional approvals. A variance to the NC Food Code is required, which must be granted by the NC Variance Committee.

When a variance is requested, the HACCP and Variance Application must be submitted to Orange County Environmental Health, who will forward it with recommendations to the NC Variance Committee.  The committee meets monthly; so please prepare plans and submit applications with enough time for approvals before beginning a specialized food process. 

Contact us if you have questions about the NC Food Code, HACCP submittal, or Variance requests.