Restaurant Inspection

When you’re eating out, you don’t want to worry that the food you eat will make you sick. That’s why we inspect places that serve food in Whatcom County. You can search the results of food safety inspections for any restaurant or other food service establishment that we inspect.

Food Safety Rules & Regulations

The Washington State Retail Food Code outlines the rules in Washington State for safely handling food that is served to the public. If a food establishment doesn’t follow these rules, it can put your health at risk. Some violations of the food code can put you at greater risk for foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning).

High-risk violations (red violations) are things that can contribute directly to foodborne illness. Examples include:

  • Cooking meats to the incorrect temperature.
  • Not keeping cold food cold enough.
  • Food contamination.
  • Handwashing.
  • Serving food that is not from an approved source.
  • Worker health and hygiene.

Low risk violations (blue violations) are items related to maintenance and sanitation. These items must be corrected but are less likely to cause illness. 

Retail Food Code Changes 2022

The Washington State Board of Health adopted proposed changes to the Retail Food Code (246-215 WAC, Food Service). The majority of the provisions became effective on March 1, 2022. Please see the video and handout links below to learn more about specific topics:

Code Revision TopicVideo MaterialsPrinted Resources
Date MarkingVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
WCHD Handout (PDF)
DOH Toolkit (PDF)
Employee HealthVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
WCHD Handout (PDF)
FDA Employee Health handbook
Vomit and Diarrhea CleanupVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
WCHD Handout (PDF)
DOH Toolkit (PDF)
Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM)Video
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
WCHD Handout (PDF)
Food Specific ChangesVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)

Using Refillable ContainersVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
DOH Toolkit (PDF)
Dogs in Outside and Inside Seating AreasVideo
PowerPoint with Notes (PDF)
WCHD Handout (PDF)
DOH Toolkit (PDF)


Visit these websites for more information:


During an Inspection

Food inspectors observe and record how food is handled on a Food Establishment Inspection Report. They look for:

  • Employee hygiene and health.
  • Food temperatures.
  • How food is prepared and stored.
  • How well equipment is maintained.
  • Sources of food being served.
  • Cleanliness and sanitation.

Inspectors record any violations of the rules that they see, and the operator receives a summary of findings and required corrective actions.


Inspection Results

An inspection result tells you how well the establishment performed in the inspection and if it was necessary to correct food safety violations. There are four types of inspection results:

  • Approved - This means the establishment had zero or very few safety violations, and there is no need for follow-up.
  • Follow-Up Required - This means the establishment had some violations but doesn’t need to be re-inspected. Any high-risk violations are corrected right away, and inspectors usually check in with the establishment again within 60 days.
  • Re-Inspection Required - This means the establishment had many high risk or repeat violations. All high-risk violations are corrected immediately. Inspectors increase the frequency of their inspections, and the establishment is re-inspected again within 60 days.
  • Permit Suspension - This means an establishment was ordered to close immediately, but temporarily, because there was a severe health hazard or a repeat violation. Severe health hazards include things like an outbreak of illness, sewage backup, or lack of water. When a permit is suspended, the person who operates the establishment must attend a hearing and correct all violations, and the establishment must be re-inspected before the permit is reinstated.