Who Inspects What? Our Food Safety Partners

Different agencies are responsible for different types of food safety inspections.  Here is a summary of the work done by each of the food inspection partner agencies in Washington State.

Retail food establishment inspection - Local Health Departments
Retail establishments are those that sell food directly to the consumer. Whatcom County Health Department and other local health agencies are responsible for inspecting:
  • Restaurants
  • Retail grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Coffee shops
  • Taverns and brew pubs
  • Caterers
  • Temporary vendors at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, and fundraisers.
Follow this link to contact other local health jurisdictions in Washington State: Local Health Departments.

Tribal facilities and institutions (including retail food establishments on tribal lands) - Northwest Washington Indian Health Board

Hospitals, prisons, and ferries - Washington State Department of Health

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities - Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Child care centers - Washington State Department of Early Learning

Wholesale food processors - Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA):
Wholesalers sell food to retail stores or distributors. WSDA is responsible for licensing and inspecting:
  • Custom meat facilities
  • Seafood processing plants
  • Dairy farms
  • Coffee roasters
  • Farms that process fresh produce
  • Some internet food sales
  • Wholesale processors preparing foods that are sold inside Washington State
    • Except most meat products - see US Department of Agriculture 
Wholesale food processors distributing interstate and internationally - US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
FDA inspects wholesale facilities that process food for sale outside of Washington State. FDA partners with WSDA to inspect some processing facilities.

Wholesale meat processing - US Department of Agriculture (USDA):
USDA is responsible for inspecting wholesale facilities that process most meat products. Foods containing beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, or goat are under USDA jurisdiction.

Contact Us

  1. Food Safety Program

    Email the Department

    509 Girard Street
    Bellingham, WA 98225

    Phone: 360-778-6000
    Fax: 360-778-6001


    Monday - Friday
    8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

    Closed on holidays