Food Safety

In accordance with the 2009 Iowa Food Code, Linn County Public Health inspects all food establishments in the Linn County area. The 2009 Iowa Food Code was adopted from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2009 food code, which is based on scientifically developed factors that focus on public health and the prevention of food borne illness. As of January 1, 2014, Linn County Public Health and the state of Iowa transitioned from the use of the 2005 food code to the adoption of the 2009 food code with 2013 updates. With adoption of the new food code comes some slight changes in regulations. For an overview of the changes, see: Food Code Changes

All food service establishments that sell or serve food to the public must obtain a license and comply with the 2009 FDA Food Code. Food establishments may include restaurants, coffee bars, delis, grocery stores, and temporary food vendors. For a list of the available training on the 2009 FDA food code, please see: Certified Food Protection Manager CoursesLinn County Public Health offers the Certified Food Protection Manager Course “ServSafe” in both English and Chinese. In addition to the Chinese courses held in Linn County, one ServSafe Course is available in the Des Moines area.


The majority of facilities in Linn County receive two unannounced inspections a year. Inspections primarily function to ensure food and produce is handled, prepared, and kept in sanitary conditions. In addition, these inspections provide an opportunity for the inspectors to inform and educate the food service professionals about food safety. Please visit the DIA webpage to view completed inspections in your area.

Violations within the Three-Tier Risk Designation System

Priority Item - Items with a quantifiable measure to demonstrate control of potential hazards, such as:

  • Cooking 
  • Reheating 
  • Cooling 
  • Handwashing
Priority Foundation Item - Items that require the purposeful incorporation of specific actions, equipment, or procedures by management to attain control of risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness or injury. These items may include:

  • Personnel training
  • Infrastructure or necessary equipment
  • HACCP plans
  • Documentation or record keeping
  • Labeling
Core Item - Items that usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance.

When possible, violations are addressed on-the-spot. If the facility is unable to correct the identified issues, a re-inspection is warranted. Violations of priority items must be corrected within 72 hours. Priority Foundation items and HACCP Plan deviations must be corrected within 10 days of the violation. Unless otherwise approved by the regulatory authority, facilities have 90 days to correct Core item violations.