Bookmark and Share

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.

Safer at Home Order

We’ve received several questions about Emergency Order No. 12, also known as the Safer at Home order. The declaration exempts grocery stores from mandatory closure with the following requirements:

  • Close all seating intended for use by customers consuming food.
  • Cease self-service operation of salad bars, beverage station and buffets.

What does the Safer At Home order mean for my grocery store?

  • Grocery stores are permitted to keep open areas where customers self-dispense unpackaged foods, such as fresh produce.
  • Self-dispensing that requires the use of tongs or scoops, like bulk bins and bakery displays, are encouraged to close but not required to do so.
  • Grocery stores are required to sanitize the tongs and scoops frequently, and close the self-dispensing area if they are not able to accomplish this sanitizing.

What does this mean for my non-grocery store retail food establishment?

Nothing has changed from the first public health emergency order. Here’s a reminder of the requirements:

  • Customers may not serve themselves items including, but not limited to, coffee and fountain soda from beverage stations. They also may not refill water jugs.
  • Customers may not handle unwrapped bakery items.
  • Employees may serve a customer items including, but not limited to: coffee, fountain soda or a requested bakery item.
  • Employees may package bulk food per a customer request.
  • Employees may prepare/reheat food in the kitchen area, package it, and place it in a case for customer self-service. For example, hot dog rollers may be placed in the kitchen to reheat hot dogs for packaging by employees and placement in a customer self-serve hot case.
  • Food items may not be reheated in the customer area. All equipment used for reheating (e.g., hot dog or tornado rollers) must be moved into the kitchen for use.

Packaging operations are limited to facility-provided containers only.

Guidelines for Food Delivery during Public Health Emergency

Food deliveries are expected to increase during this public health emergency. Drivers should follow these guidelines:

  • Do not work if you are feeling ill.
  • Food must be packaged and protected from contamination.
  • Food must be transported in temperature-controlled containers. For example, using insulated coolers for hot foods, and insulated coolers with ice packs to transport cold foods.
  • Driver must practice social distancing of at least 6 feet between people, when possible.
  • Driver must practice responsible hand washing or use hand sanitizer after each transaction.

Restaurants and retail food operators are encouraged to post signs alerting third-party delivery drivers to best practices.

This order remains in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared in Order No. 72, or until a superseding order is issued.

Helpful Resources

The State of Wisconsin created a webpage that offers resources from various agencies and answers to critical questions. Here are a few other resources from DHS that might be helpful during this challenging time:

Democratic National Convention Workshop

In preparation for the DNC, FBI Milwaukee and FBI Headquarters WMD Directorate are hosting a one day food defense workshop.

About this Event

The Commercial Facilities Food Defense Workshop will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss food defense as it relates to large commercial venues and the response to an incident. Protecting the food supply requires a robust public health, law enforcement, regulatory, and private sector partnership capable of preventing, detecting, and responding to intentional food borne outbreaks. The objectives of the workshop and short TTX are to: improve incident response planning; increase industry awareness of food defense concepts; identify and implement best practices for food defense; and strengthen partnerships among, and promote awareness of roles responsibilities, authorities, and resources of each stakeholder.

Date and Time



Waukesha Expo Center: 1000 Northview Road

Waukesha, WI 53188


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.

Consumer Environmental Health

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

Phone: 414-286-3674
Fax: 414-286-5164

Hours of Operation:

Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-4:30 pm

Get Connected

Connect on Twitter    

Consumer Environmental Health Information

Please wait while we gather your results.

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.