Guidelines for Opening and Renovating a Food Premises

According to O.Reg 493/17 Food Premises, anyone who plans to open a new food premises or re-open after renovating a food premises in Windsor-Essex County MUST notify the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Call the Environmental Health Department at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475 to provide information about the premises DURING construction and BEFORE opening.

The following information provides a general overview of requirements to help owners/operators plan their premises and prepare for inspection by a Public Health Inspector.

Floor or floor coverings must be made of a tight, smooth, and non-absorbent material. Materials such as carpeting and cardboard are not allowed in areas where:

  • Food is handled, prepared, transported, or stored.
  • Utensils are washed.
  • Washrooms are located.

Carpeting is allowed in the dining room only. Walls, ceilings, and floors of every room must be kept clean, in good repair, and maintained in a sanitary condition at all times. Fiberglass reinforced plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic tiles are recommended in the areas where food is prepared and stored, and where dishwashing takes place.

The level of lighting required under the Ontario Building Code shall be maintained in such a way that it provides adequate visibility in the food preparation and storage areas.

All food premises must have toilet facilities. Washrooms must be kept sanitary, properly equipped and in good repair at all times.  A washroom must be equipped with:

  • Supply of toilet paper
  •  Constant supply of hot and cold running water
  • Supply of soap in a dispenser
  • Durable and easy to clean garbage receptacles
  • Paper towels or a hot air dryer

Please consult your local municipal Building Department for the total number of washrooms, design, construction, and installation requirements.

The ventilation system above cooking equipment, including removable filter panels and canopy, must be maintained to remove odors, fumes, vapors, smoke and excessive heat. Please contact your local municipal Fire Department for requirements. 

Where manual dishwashing procedures are used for cleaning and sanitizing multi-service utensils (e.g., forks, spoons, plates, cups), the dishwashing equipment should include a three compartment sink.

If your food premise only uses single-service articles (e.g., disposable utensils, cups, and plates), a two-compartment sink may be used to clean large equipment and cooking utensils (e.g., pots, knives, and cutting boards) as a minimum.

All sinks must be made of noncorrosive material and of sufficient size to permit complete immersion of the utensils to be sanitized. Drying racks should also be provided so cleaned utensils can air dry.

A separate handwashing basin is required in a location convenient for employees in each processing, preparation, and manufacturing areas. A handwash sink must be equipped with the following supplies:

  • Hot and cold running water under pressure from a potable (drinkable) water supply.
  • Liquid soap or detergent in a dispenser.
  • Paper towels.

Do not store or wash utensils in handwash sinks. Handwash sinks are strictly for handwashing only.

There are two types of dishwashers. Both must have a wash cycle temperature between 60°C to 71°C (140°F to 160°F):

  • High temperature dishwashers use hot water for sanitizing. The temperature of the rinse cycle must reach 82°C (180°F) or higher and hold for at least 10 seconds.
  • Low temperature dishwashers use a chemical sanitizer.

These requirements may not apply to a NSF International certified dishwasher.

Approved chemical sanitizers and concentrations

  • Chlorine (e.g., bleach) at 100 ppm (parts per million).
  • Quaternary ammonium (Quats) at 200 ppm.
  • Iodine at 25 ppm.
  • Other sanitizing agents may be used if approved by your Public Health Inspector.

Make sure you have the proper sanitizer test strips for the chemical used.

Dishwashers must be cleaned, regularly maintained, and have gauges that show wash and rinse temperatures.

All wiping cloths used to clean and sanitize surfaces must be clean and stored in a bucket with a sanitizer solution. A spray bottle with sanitizing solution and paper towels may be used in place of wiping cloths and a sanitizer bucket.

Equipment and utensils must be:

  • Corrosion-resistant and non-toxic.
  • Easily cleanable and in good repair.
  • Free from cracks, crevices, and open seams.

The location of the equipment must be accessible for cleaning. Be sure that large equipment such as meat slicers are cleaned and sanitized often throughout the day. Multi-service articles (e.g., cups, forks, knives etc,) must be washed and sanitized after each use. Single-service articles (e.g., take out containers and utensils) must be stored in a way that it doesn’t become contaminated.

All food must be protected from contamination and adulteration. Use sneeze guards in self-serve areas where foods are not individually packaged (e.g., salad bars, steam tables). Store food in food-grade containers with proper covers.

All food must be stored off the floor on racks, shelves, or pallets. Food cannot be stored directly on the floor. Racks, shelves, or pallets must be designed to protect the food from contamination and must be easily cleanable (e.g., stainless steel shelves).

Make sure food is stored in food storage areas only. Do not store food in washrooms, furnace rooms, or staff dressing rooms.

All chemicals (e.g., insecticide, cleaning agents, and sanitizers) must be stored away from food in a designated area. Do not store chemicals above food and food contact surfaces (e.g., preparation tables, utensils, equipment). Chemical containers must be clearly labelled with the contents of the container.

Grease must always be disposed of in a sanitary manner. Before opening, please contact the Building Department regarding the installation requirements for a grease trap. The grease trap must be emptied regularly and the area surrounding the trap must be kept clean and in a sanitary manner at all times.

Garbage and wastes, including liquid wastes, must be collected and removed from the premises as often as is necessary to keep the place in a sanitary condition.

Garbage receptacles should be durable, leak and rodent proof, with tight fitting lids.

Every food premises must be protected against the entry of pests and kept free of conditions that lead to the harbouring or breeding of pests. Any doors or windows kept open during operating hours must be screened to prevent the entrance of pests. Install sturdy door sweeps to cover any gaps between the door and the floor at all outdoor entrances.

We recommend you contact a licensed pest control company and set up a pest management program. Any pest control measures that take place must be documented and kept on file for at least a year.

Indicating thermometers must be provided for all equipment used for refrigeration or hot-holding (e.g., steam tables, insulated food storage containers). They can be built in, or placed in a visible location inside the unit. Make sure the thermometers are easily readable and in good working condition.

A probe thermometer is required to check the temperatures inside solid or liquid foods. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the meat or into the center if the food is liquid. Probe thermometers must be calibrated regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure accuracy.

Visit the How to Use a Probe Thermometer page for details on the use and calibration of a probe thermometer.

Adequate temperatures must be maintained for refrigerators and freezers. Refrigerators must keep the food at 4°C (40°F) or colder. Make sure there is enough space in the refrigerator for all foods so that proper temperatures can be maintained.

Foods in freezers must be kept frozen. A recommended freezer temperature is -18°C (0°F).

All food must come from an approved (inspected) source. Records such as receipts or invoices for all foods must be kept on-site for at least a year.

Review the Food Premises Package, including Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493 and Guidelines for Opening and Renovating a Food Premise.
Contact the Building Department, Fire Department, and Municipal By-Laws for local requirements.
Draft a floor plan layout of the proposed food premise.
Submit floor plan and Notice of Intent to Operate a Food Premise application form to your area Public Health Inspector for review.
Call your area Public Health Inspector for an inspection before opening.
Ensure there will be at least one certified food handler on site during regular operating hours.
Floors, walls, and ceilings are made with a smooth, non-absorbent, easily cleanable surface.
Doors and windows are screened if you intend to leave them open for ventilation.
Pest control program in place.
Adequate lighting in all food handling, preparation, and storage areas.
Adequate number of public washrooms, equipped with liquid soap and paper towels.
Ventilation hood is clean and maintained in a sanitary manner.
Separate handwashing sink with hot and cold running water under pressure, liquid soap, and paper towels.
A two-compartment sink with a drying rack for cleaning and sanitizing (note: two compartment sinks are only allowed if the food premise uses disposable utensils).
A three-compartment sink with a drying rack for cleaning and sanitizing multi-use utensils and/or a commercial dishwasher for cleaning and sanitizing multi-use utensils.
Temperature gauges to display wash and rinse cycle.
Chemical sanitizer provided (if applicable).
Food contact surfaces is corrosion-resistant, non-toxic, easily cleanable, and in good repair.
Food containers made of food-grade materials and properly covered.
Food stored off the floor on shelving, racks, or pallets.
Adequate refrigeration and freezer space.
Chemicals stored away from food and properly labelled.
Utensils (multi-use and single-use) are stored in a clean and sanitary manner.
Thermometers in all refrigerator and freezer units.
Calibrated probe thermometer to verify internal food temperatures.
Garbage (interior and exterior) is stored in an easily cleanable container with a tight fitting lid.