Food Code Transition: Major Changes for Operators

Food-Borne Illness

If you get sick eating out, contact San Juan Basin Public Health to file a complaint, or make a written complaint online. The staff will request information detailing the foods consumed, when consumed, when symptoms started, if others are ill with similar symptoms, and a 72-hour meal history.

If you are severely ill or if your symptoms persist, you should contact your physician. In most cases, medical tests must be conducted to confirm the specific cause of the food borne illness. Contact the food service establishment and advise them of your concerns.

CONTACT EH Main Line | 970 335 2052

Food Safety

Colorado has adopted the 2013 FDA Food Code. As of January, 2019 these regulations are in effect. Please be aware that as of September 2018, fees for new retail food licenses have gone up according to C.R.S. §25-4-1607. Please see the most recent fee schedule posted on the left side of this page.

The Environmental Health Program is responsible for the inspection of all restaurants and retail markets in La Plata, Archuleta, and San Juan Counties. The Environmental Health staff perform inspections, investigations, and enforce compliance with State laws and regulations. Staff also provide technical expertise and training for the food service industry. The Health Protection Programs also investigate all complaints, reports of food-borne illness, and food related health problems.

To make payment for retail food applications, plan reviews, or other services, do one of the following:

  • (Preferred) Pay online with credit card or e-check. Select “Food License” in the Payment for field, write the name of the establishment in the Description field, and write the invoice number in the Invoice Number/Customer Name field.
  • Pay in person with check, credit card or cash at either of our office locations: 281 Sawyer Drive, Durango; or 502 South 8th Street, Pagosa Springs.
  • Mail or ship a check to San Juan Basin Public Health, ATTN: Environmental Health, 281 Sawyer Drive, Durango CO 81303. Write the name of the establishment and invoice number on the memo line.


On November 15, 2017, the Colorado Board of Health voted to adopt the 2013 versions of the FDA Food Code for Colorado. The date of implementation of the new code was January 1, 2019. San Juan Basin Public Health has been working with State and local partners to train both inspectors and food handlers on the new code and what its implementation means for our community.

Guidance Documents and Interpretive Memos for Operators:

For additional information and document in other languages please visit the CDPHE Food Code Transition website.


Preventing cross-contamination is one step to help eliminate food-borne illness. Cross-contamination of food is a common factor in the cause of food-borne illness. Foods can become contaminated by microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) from many different sources during the food preparation and storage process.

Food Handler Training

The food service industry offers a wide variety of occupations ranging from restaurants, school cafeterias, mobile food units, and cottage foods. There are several options for you to consider when improving your food handling skills.

The Colorado State University Extension Office also offers courses. For questions or additional information call (970)382-6461 or email

San Juan Basin Public Health also provides trainings and educational sessions. Staff host Food Safety Basic classes in all counties served. Classes locations are determined by operator interest and staff resources. If attended by a manager, these interventions may count as one regular retail food establishment inspection every two years. Additional training opportunities and specific food safety topics are provided throughout the year. All trainings are available in Spanish upon request. Please contact SJBPH for current dates and locations at (970) 335-2052 or

Upcoming Trainings:

Food Safety Basics and Changes in Enforcement

  • Nov 6 & 20 and Dec 4 & 18

What do I do if I want to operate a restaurant, grocery store, or other food outlet?

All food service establishments selling, serving, and preparing food require a State of Colorado Retail Food Establishment License. All facilities being used for such purpose must be inspected and approved by SJBPH Environmental Health staff prior to operation. If interested in starting a retail food establishment or retail food market in Archuleta, La Plata, or San Juan Counties, contact San Juan Basin Public Health for assistance at (970) 335-2052 or

A set of plans and specifications must be submitted to the health department for review and approval before construction begins. Once you have submitted the plan review packet to SJBPH, approval and licensing takes approximately eight (8) weeks. Retail food licenses cannot be purchased until the plan review has been completed and approved by SJBPH staff. 

What do I do if I want to purchase an existing restaurant, grocery store or other food service facility?

If interested in purchasing an existing food service operation, contact the San Juan Basin Public Health’s Environmental Health program for information regarding previous inspections at (970) 335-2052 or

Request a change of ownership inspection; this will provide detailed information outlining any changes or remodeling that may be required to bring the facility into compliance with Colorado State Retail Food Establishment Regulations. Since the Regulations are changing January 2019, even a restaurant that is currently operating may not meet the new regulations. The owner will be required to bring the facility into compliance.

If you are purchasing an existing establishment, please submit the Change of Ownership Packet before making any equipment or remodeling changes.

What fees may be assessed?

The cost of the plan review is $100, due upon submission of the plans and specifications. Plan review time will be billed at the hourly rate of $60 per hour.

San Juan Basin Public Health’s Environmental Health program staff work with food facilities by providing both consultations and regulatory inspections.  Facilities are inspected per the Colorado Retail Food Code. Priority violations are those that are more likely to cause a food-borne illness.

One inspection may not represent the overall, long-term food safety practices of a facility. On any given day, a restaurant may have greater or fewer violations than noted in the most recent regulatory inspection.

Retail food establishment inspections are public records, and a copy of an official inspection report may be obtained through an Open Records Request.

Inspection Results:


January  |  February   |   March


January  |  February  |  March  |  April  |  May  |  June  |  July  |  August  |  September  |  October  |  November December

Any retail food establishment may request a variance from any requirement of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations when the establishment believes that the requirement results in an undue economic hardship or when it is believed that a standard may not apply to the specific situation.

To Request a Variance

Complete the Request for Variance form.  Submit the form and attachments to San Juan Basin Public Health for review. See the variance guidance documents below. For additional information please email submittals to

What to include in the Variance Packet:

  • Request for Variance form
  • Evidence of financial burden (if applicable). Please attach estimates of loss of income and/or cost of compliance.
  • Detailed explanation of why the regulation is not applicable to the establishment (if applicable).
  • Explanation of how any potential health hazards will be mitigated (including any policies/procedures).
  • Description of how implementation will take place (including staff training, acquisition of supplies, etc.).

Colorado Food Code Regulations on Variances (Page 96, section 3-502.11 )

For more information related to requesting a Variance for Pets on Patios, please see the Service Animals and Pets tab.

To operate a food truck or other mobile unit it is required to obtain a Colorado Retail Food License and comply with the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations. A review and approval of operations and mobile retail food operation plans is required prior to a license being granted.

A mobile unit serving only hot coffee, espressos, or pre-packaged manufactured food that does not require temperature control do not need a retail food license. Facilities serving shelf stable cream and milk do not need a retail food license.

Per Colorado Food Code §6-501.115, pets are not permitted in retail food establishments (including outdoor patios). This prohibition does not include service animals, which are always allowed.

Pets may be allowed on outdoor patios under certain circumstances, which requires a Variance issued by SJBPH). Any retail food establishment may request a Variance from any requirement of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations when the establishment believes that the requirement results in an undue economic hardship or when it is believed that a standard may not apply to the specific situation.

For more information regarding variances go the Variances tab.

Please submit pet variance request information to Submissions are reviewed in the order they are received and may take up to 8 weeks for approval. Please see the state variance below to ensure all required information is included.

Food manufacturing and storage includes selling prepared packaged food to retailers, re-packaging food and ingredients, and selling products on the internet.

Food that is prepared for human consumption must be made in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen. Food may not be prepared in a home kitchen for sale to the public. The Colorado Food Manufacturing Regulations must be followed for such a facility. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) regulates wholesale food. For a current list of manufacturers please visit the CDPHE Manufactured Foods website.

The Cottage Foods Act allows limited types of food products that are non-potentially hazardous (do not require refrigeration for safety) to be sold directly to consumers without licensing or inspection. For more information about cottage foods, please visit or contact Nicole Clark at the La Plata County CSU Extension office at 970.382.6461 or

San Juan Basin Public Health is not licensing vendors for special or temporary events for the 2019 calendar year. Archuleta, La Plata, and San Juan counties have specific rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure the public’s health and safety.  Please follow the guidelines for temporary events. It is the responsibility of both the event sponsor and the vendor to ensure that all regulations are met.

Mobile units or food trucks that operate more than 14 non-consecutive days, must obtain a Colorado Retail Food Establishment License.

Colorado Food Protection Act

Colorado Retail Food Rules and Regulations

Colorado Retail Food Rules and Regulations