Food & Lodging Sanitation

Sanitation Standards for Establishments

Food, lodging, and institution sanitation helps to ensure the public that establishments operating in Rowan County meet the minimum sanitation standards as required by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Natural Resources (NCDEHNR). Rowan County Environmental Health Specialists routinely inspect all the following establishments:

  • Push Carts and mobile food units
  • Hotels, motels, bed and breakfast
  • Nursing and rest homes, residential care facilities
  • Meat Markets, restaurants, food stands, institutional food services
  • Schools and educational institutions, hospitals, jails
  • Summer camps
  • Child care facilities


Inspections include the establishment's level of cleanliness, food handling practices and proper food protection during preparation, storage and transportation. After inspection the establishment receives a certified card that is graded A, B or C. Each establishment is required to display their grade card in a prominent location for the public to view.

New and temporary dining establishments in Rowan County must have applicable licenses and permits. Inspectors will work closely with owners and managers to ensure the quality and safety of food service to the public.

New Food Service Permits 

Meat Markets, Restaurants, Food Stands, Institutional Food Service

New food establishments and remodels of existing food establishments are required to go through a process called plan review. This requires an application and a full set of plans. Once plans are reviewed and approved, a letter of notification is sent to the applicant. Once construction is complete and the applicant has obtained all building department, zoning and fire approvals, a pre-permitting inspection is conducted. If the facility has been constructed in compliance with the approved plans and state and local regulations, the applicant may apply for and obtain a food service license. 

Download the New Food Service Application (PDF)
Download the Checklist (PDF)

Mobile Food Unit / Push Cart Permits (MFU)

A mobile food unit (food truck) is a fully enclosed, self contained commercial kitchen on wheels that is readily moved from a serving commissary to varying locations for food service vending operations. Push carts may only prepare, handle, and serve prepackaged foods and hotdogs. The push cart shall have a servicing commissary and shall be transported to varying locations for food vending operations. 

All Mobile Food Units / Push Carts must have a commissary kitchen and must submit an application with plans drawn to scale. 

Download the MFU Application (PDF)

Temporary Food Establishment Permits (TFE)

Temporary Food Establishment Permits are issued for events that are no more than 15 days in duration. Inspections are conducted during the event to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and regulations. View the rules.
All TFE applications must be submitted and paid for at least 5 days prior to the event, and 3 days prior for replacement vendors. 

Download the TFE Application (PDF)

Limited Food Service Establishments (LFSE)

Limited food service permits are typically issued to concession stands that serve food only at amateur athletic events. Permits for limited food service establishments can only be issued to:

  • Political subdivisions of the state
  • Establishments operated by volunteers that prepare or serve food at amateur athletic events
  • Establishments operated by organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Lodging facilities that serve only reheated food that has already been pre-cooked

Download the LFSE Application (PDF)

Lodging Facilities

Lodging establishments include all hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfast homes, and other places providing lodging accommodations for pay. All new lodging facilities must be approved through a process called plan review prior to construction, renovation, modification, or change of ownership (excluding cosmetic or nonstructural changes to and existing lodging establishment.)

Download the Lodging Plan Review Application (PDF)
Download the Checklist (PDF)

Child Care Facilities

Environmental Health Specialists inspect facilities that are licensed by the Division of Child Development and Early Education once every six months. During inspection, facilities are inspected entirely and are evaluated based on sanitation, food handling practices, and prevention of communicable diseases. All new child care centers must be approved by Environmental Health through a process called plan review prior to construction, renovation, modification, or change of ownership of such facilities. 

Download the Child Care Plan Review Application (PDF)
Download the Checklist (PDF)

Adult Care Facilities / Nursing Homes

These facilities are routinely inspected once per year to ensure the provider is operating in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, in a manner that protects the health and safety of their residents.
Download the Checklist (PDF)