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Food Safety for Businesses

Food establishments in The City of Milwaukee are inspected by the Consumer Environmental Health Divison for violations and unsafe practices. Businesses include restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, caterers, groceries and confectionery stores, meat markets, farmers markets, temporary events, vending machines, food carts and mobile vendors (food trucks).The City of Milwaukee adopts in the City of Milwaukee Code of Ordinances Chapter 68 (Food License Regulations) the Wisconsin Food Code which is based on the 2013 FDA Model Food Code.  The FDA Model Food Code contains helpful Annexes that are not in the Wisconsin Food Code such as "Public Health Reasons". The FDA also has the 2009 Model Food Code in Spanish.

New Wisconsin Food Code in Effect 10-25-2020
Wisconsin has an updated food code. The WI Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection has published a series of webinars and fact sheets to provide information about the updated food code. In addition, you can view Q&A Webinars from the above link.

Helpful COVID-19 Resource

The State of Wisconsin has a webpage that offers resources from various agencies and answers to critical questions. 

Certified Food Manager

Each person who is licensed to operate a food service operation shall employ, or shall personally be a person who holds a valid, current certificate of food protection practices.
Click here for Food Manager Certification Requirements

Employee Illness

Infected food workers present a severe food safety risk. Food employees are required to notify the person in charge when they experience foodborne illness symptoms. It is recommended that a document, such as on the links below, be used as an agreement between employees and management.

Food Employee Reporting Agreement

Food Employee Reporting Agreement En Espanol

The person in charge is required to notify the City of Milwaukee Consumer Environmental Health Divison if any food employees are jaundiced or known to be infected with:

  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Norovirus
  • Typhoid Fever

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook which encourage practices and behaviors that can help prevent food employees from spreading viruses and bacteria to food. It provides information in a question-and-answer format that food establishment management and food employees can use to prevent the spread of disease.

Foodborne Illness Risks

Minimize your risk of foodborne illness. Review your business's food handling practices.

The five main risk factors for foodborne illnesses are:

  • Improper hot and cold holding of food
  • Not cooking foods to proper temperatures
  • Cross-contaminating food
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Purchasing food from unsafe sources

To reduce foodborne illness risks:

  • Keep cold foods below 41 degrees.
  • Keep hot foods above 135 degrees. When holding hot foods, check the temperature every two hours. Reheat if needed to maintain a safe holding temperature.
  • Prep raw meat, poultry, seafood and ready to eat ingredients separately. Use separate cutting boards, equipment and utensils or clean and sanitize all equipment and utensils after working with each ingredient.
  • Anyone handling food should practice good personal hygiene. This includes proper handwashing and avoiding bare hand contact with ready to eat foods.
  • Purchase food from approved, reputable suppliers. Know your suppliers and their food safety practices.


Norovirus infection is the leading cause of foodborne illness.

Norovirus is very contagious. Protect your patrons, employees and yourself with proper handwashing. The most effective way to prevent the spread of norovirus is to wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds:

  • Before working with food.
  • After handling raw animal products.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After any activity that contaminates the hands.
  • Wash your hands more often when someone in your household is sick.

When you are sick with vomiting and/or diarrhea do not work in a food establishment. Avoid preparing food while you have symptoms and for at least three days after you recover.


  • No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food including garnishes and ice.
  • Practice proper glove use.

What if a sick customer or employee vomits or has diarrhea in your establishment?

  • Clean up vomit and diarrhea right away. Wear protective clothing, gloves and mask. Use absorbent material to soak up liquids. Do not vacuum. Wash surfaces that contacted vomit or diarrhea with soapy water.
  • Disinfect surfaces with a chlorine bleach solution.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Hand sanitizers may not be effective against norovirus

Food Establishments are requried to have written procedures for employees to follow when responding to the discharge of vomitus or fecal matter onto surfaces in the establishment. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has fact sheets on Vomit and Diarrhea Cleanup and Suggested Contents for a Vomit and Diarrhea Cleanup Kit .

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has information on Norovirus and fact sheets ( in English, Hmong and Spanish)

Handling Shellfish- Avoid Vibrio!

A healthy person who is exposed to Vibrio may experience vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. People with compromised immune systems and pregnant women are at much greater risk.

Are you prepared if any of your customers become ill with Vibrio? Does your menu have the correct Consumer Warning? Are shellstock tags kept with the containers? After an oyster container is emptied, are tags kept for 90 days, and filed according to date? Health inspectors are seeing establishments that do not properly keep shellstock tags and records as required by the WI Food code.

Visit the Shellfish Safety Page for information on handling your shellfish. Check out the CDC website for more information on Vibrio.

Self Inspection Checklist 

Self-inspections and logging temperatures create internal peer to peer learning, strengthen training efforts by the person in charge, change facility standards and make businesses safer and more successful.Use the self-inspection checklists here to conduct your own inspection of your establishment. Materials are available in multiple languages, download the City of Milwaukee Self-Inspection Checklists:English | Spanish | Chinese | Hmong

Food Safety Fact Sheets

Food Code Fact Sheets created by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection to simplify the legal language found in the Wisconsin Food Code.
Food Safety Guidelines (English and Spanish)
Ingredient and Allergen Labeling
Insect and Rodent Control
Employee Health Policy Decision Tree for Managers (Árbol de Decisiones para los Gerentes sobre las Normas de Salud Del Empleado)
The Basics of Tavern Sanitation
Suspicious Activity Awareness
The Basics of Tavern Sanitation

Food Safety Videos
The Lake County General Health District has food safety videos and fact sheets covering handwashing, date marking, employee illness, chemcials, reheating and cooling, cold and hot holding and food storage.

Food Safety Signage- English & Spanish

Wash Your Hands
Safe Food Temperatures
Separate - Don't Cross-Contaminate
Dish Washing Procedures
Safe Holding Temperatures

FDA Posters/Storyboards - Educational Materials for Food Employees These posters/storyboards are designed to enhance food safety training efforts at the retail level by helping food employees understand the important role they play in protecting public health. For example, these posters/storyboards could be posted in food preparation areas where the behavior occurs, used for training, and food safety discussion.They are available in nine different languages, including Arabic, English, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

City of Milwaukee Health Department

Consumer Environmental Health

  [email protected]



 Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway, Room 320, Milwaukee, WI 53202

 Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Consumer Environmental Health Information

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Bed and Breakfast Establishments

Requirements for bed and breakfast establishments.

Consumer Environmental Health

Links to information about our food, commerce and health inspection and licensing services.

Convenience Store Security

Requirements of the City of Milwaukee's Convenience Store Security Ordinance.

Farmers' Markets

Information on the sale of food for farmers' market vendors.

Food Safety for Businesses

Signs, fact sheets and links to state and local food codes.

Food Safety for Individuals

Information for individuals and businesses on how to safely handle and cook food.

Mobile Food Establishments

Sanitation requirements for mobile food vendors (food carts/ trucks).

Opening a Food Business

Information about opening a food business in Milwaukee.

Tattoos & Body Piercing

Information for tattoo parlors and piercing shops along with health information for those who are considering or who have just recently gotten tattoos/piercings.

Temporary Events

Sanitation requirements for temporary food vendors at events in Milwaukee.

Weights and Measures

Inspections of weighing or measuring devices operating in the City of Milwaukee.

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