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Food Safety for Businesses

Food establishments in The City of Milwaukee are inspected by the Consumer Environmental Health Department 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 2009 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 the2009 Model Food Code in Spanish.

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 issued by the Wisconsin department of health and social services under s. 254.71, Wis. Stats. Click here for Food Manager Certification Requirements

Employee Illness

Infected food workers present a severe food safety risk. The person in charge is required to notify the City of Milwaukee Consumer Environmental Health Department if any food employees are known to be infected with:

  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Norovirus
  • Another bacterial, viral or parasitic pathogen.

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- Norovirus information (PDF) English

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

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 Videos
Hand Washing Employee Illness
Cold and Hot Holding Reheating and Cooling
Date Marking Chemicals


Food Safety Fact Sheets
Consumer Advisory Food Safety Guidelines (English and Spanish)
Ingredient and Allergen Labeling Norovirus
Food Employee Reporting Agreement | Spanish Cooling
Glove Use Date Marking
Insect and Rodent Control  Thawing Foods
Employee Health Policy Decision Tree for Managers (Árbol de Decisiones para los Gerentes sobre las Normas de Salud Del Empleado Information regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act- Don't Be Misled! 
Suspicious Activity Awareness The Basics of Tavern Sanitation


Food Safety Signage- English & Spanish
Wash Your Hands Dish Washing Procedures 
Safe Food Temperatures Safe Holding Temperatures
Separate - Don't Cross-Contaminate  

Food Code Fact Sheets Created by the Wisconsin Divisions of Public Health and Food Safety to assist with training about principles of the food code. Many of these fact sheets are available in other languages: Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Lao, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

FDA Oral Culture Learner Project - Educational Materials for Food Employees This project provides materials and methods to help food employees understand the reasons why following proper food safety practices is important to prevent illnesses, deaths, and loss of income and reputation resulting from food-related outbreaks. The materials have been designed for oral culture learners, which research has shown most food employees to be.The materials (posters and storyboards) deal with employee health, no bare hand contact, hand-washing, cross contamination, hot holding and cooling and are available in seven different languages, including Hindi, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish and Arabic.

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Consumer Environmental Health Information

Bed and Breakfast Establishments

Requirements for bed and breakfast establishments.

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 Inspection Reports

Food establishment inspections, information about our inspection program and explanations of the reports.

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.