Regulation of retail food establishments is a responsibility of staff with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and local public health agencies (LPHA). Retail food establishments are defined as providing or serving food directly to the consumer. These can be grocery stores, convenience stores, food pantries, restaurants, schools, mobile vendors, vending machines, farmer’s markets, concession stands, caterers and shelters, to name a few.

Routine food safety inspections of retail food establishments are not currently performed by DHSS staff. Local health agencies carry out that function. Staff with DHSS provide oversight, guidance, training and, when needed; enforcement support to the staff with LPHAs.

The food code used in Missouri is based on a model food code developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA model food code applies a science-based approach to retail food safety standards. The code is developed jointly through the efforts of industry and the regulatory agencies. Many counties in Missouri also have adopted food safety ordinances based on the FDA model code or the Missouri code. Retail operations need to note: a local jurisdiction may adopt a more restrictive set of rules. A local jurisdiction may require manager training, food handler training, permitting, fees to open a food establishment and fines for non-compliance. It is a good idea to contact the regulatory authority in the county or city in which you would like to do business before opening a retail food establishment.