Environmental Health Permit

If your business will sell or handle food, obtain a permit from the Kern County Environmental Health Services Department. You cannot sell food prepared in your home. This rule applies to caterers, as well as to individuals, clubs, and businesses. Warning: The regulations for selling and handling food are extensive and precise. Do not sign a lease or buy your food-handling equipment until you have talked with all the following organization:
Kern County Environmental Health Services Department
2700 M Street
Suite 300
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Phone: 661-862-8700
Alternate Phone: 800-552-5376

Visit the Office

A representative is in Ridgecrest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings at:
400 N China Lake Boulevard
Ridgecrest CA 93555
Phone: 760-384-5838

Schedule a Walk-Through

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can continue to prepare or sell food in a facility that is being used for that purpose today. Before you sign a lease or take any other major step toward establishing your business, call the Environmental Health Services Department and ask for a walk-through. Someone from that department can advise you on whether the equipment and facility are generally acceptable. Ask also to see the county’s files on your planned facility to learn about past violations or problems.

Create a Plan

Before you can get a food permit, you must submit a plan to Environmental Health Services for approval. The following will need to be addressed in your plan:

  • Check city or county zoning to make sure your planned use is approved.
  • Determine what food you want to sell (or handle). The exact type of food you will be serving determines the requirements you must meet. Remember that the regulations are extensive and precise!

Submit the Plan

After you collect information, create and submit your plan:

  1. Call Environmental Health Services and get a copy of the regulations for the type of food establishment that serves your specific type of food.
  2. Prepare a complete, detailed plan showing the equipment (including model numbers) and materials you will use to complete the following projects:
    1. Ceilings
    2. Electricity
    3. Finish floors
    4. Plumbing
    5. Ventilation
    6. Walls
  3. Submit your plan to Environmental Health Services for approval.
  4. Pay fees to the county for the plan check the county requires. County charges may vary, but $80 per hour is typical. You may have to pay an advance deposit ($350 to $485).

Health Permit Fee

You will pay an annual health permit fee for the food permit and inspection services. The county will inspect your business at least three times a year. Permit fees will depend on the size of your business. The nonrefundable permit is valid only for the type of food sales or food preparation approved at the time the health permit was issued, and the fee is due on July 1 every year. Display the permit in a prominent place in your business, and if the permit is suspended or revoked, you must close your business until you again have a valid permit.

Certified Food Handler

In addition to the Food Permit for your premises, any food facility that prepares or serves unpackaged food must have a certified food safety person (certified food handler). The information for this certification is also available through Kern County Environmental Health Services Department.

Other Required Approvals

Once your plan is approved by Environmental Health, get building, electrical, and plumbing approvals from the City of Ridgecrest Building Department by calling 760-499-5072.

Also call the Waste Management Department at 661-862-8900, especially if your food operation will discard large amounts of grease or other materials.