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Risk Levels and Inspection Frequencies for Retail Food Program

Refer to the bottom of portion of this page for explanations of the number of inspections per Risk Level.

"Food service operation" means a place, location, site, or separate area where food intended to be served in individual portions is prepared or served for a charge or required donation. As used in this division, "served" means a response made to an order for one or more individual portions of food in a form that is edible without washing, cooking, or additional preparation and "prepared" means any action that affects a food other than receiving or maintaining it at the temperature at which it was received.

"Retail food establishment" means a premises or part of a premises where food is stored, processed, prepared, manufactured, or otherwise held or handled for retail sale. Except when expressly provided otherwise, "retail food establishment" includes a mobile retail food establishment, seasonal retail food establishment, and temporary retail food establishment.

at least one standard inspection each licensing period
"Mobile" means an operation/establishment that is operated from a movable vehicle or other portable structure, and that routinely changes location, except that if the operation/establishment  operates from any one location for more than forty consecutive days, the operation/establishment is no longer a mobile food service operation/retail food establishment.

at least one inspection during the period of operation
"Temporary" means an operation/establishment that is operated at an event for not more than five consecutive days, except when operated for more than five consecutive days pursuant to division (E)(2) of section 3717.23  and 3717.43 of the Revised Code.

The licensor shall inspect at least fifty per cent of an operator's vending machine locations each licensing period.

Food Service Operations and Retail Food Establishments are licensed based on the highest risk level of  activity with food and/or food product accordance with the following criteria:

Risk level I: at least one standard inspection each licensing period.

Risk level I poses potential risk to the public in terms of sanitation, food labeling, sources of food, storage practices, or expiration dates. Examples of risk level I activities include, but are not limited to, an operation that offers for sale or sells:
     (1) Coffee, self-service fountain drinks, prepackaged non-time/temperature controlled for safety beverages;
     (2) Pre-packaged refrigerated or frozen time/temperature controlled for safety foods;
     (3) Pre-packaged non-time/temperature controlled for safety foods; or
     (4) Baby food or formula.

A "food delivery sales operation" means a food service operation from which individual portions of food are ordered by a customer, prepared at another food service operation or a retail food establishment, and delivered to the customer by a person other than an employee of the food service operation or retail food establishment that prepared the food.

Risk level II: at least one standard inspection each licensing period.

Risk level II poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level I because of hand contact or employee health concerns but minimal possibility of pathogenic growth exists. Examples of risk level II activities include, but are not limited to:
     (1) Handling, heat treating, or preparing non-time/temperature controlled for safety food;
     (2) Holding for sale or serving time/temperature controlled for safety food at the same proper holding temperature                  at which it was received; or
     (3) Heating individually packaged, commercially processed time/temperature controlled for safety foods for
            immediate service.

Risk level III: at least two standard inspections each licensing period.

Risk level III poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level II because of the following concerns: proper cooking temperatures, proper cooling procedures, proper holding temperatures, contamination issues or improper heat treatment in association with longer holding times before consumption, or processing a raw food product requiring bacterial load reduction procedures in order to sell it as ready-to-eat. Examples of risk level III activities include, but are not limited to:
     (1) Handling, cutting, or grinding raw meat products;
     (2) Cutting or slicing ready-to-eat meats and cheeses;
     (3) Assembling or cooking time/temperature controlled for safety food that is immediately served, held hot or cold,
            or cooled;
     (4) Operating a heat treatment dispensing freezer;
     (5) Reheating in individual portions only; or
     (6) Heating of a product, from an intact, hermetically sealed package and holding it hot.

Risk level IV: at least two standard inspections and two critical control point inspections, and if
applicable two variance reviews each licensing period

Risk level IV poses a higher potential risk to the public than risk level III because of concerns associated with: handling or preparing food using a procedure with several preparation steps that includes reheating of a product or ingredient of a product where multiple temperature controls are needed to preclude bacterial growth; offering as ready-to-eat a raw time/temperature controlled for safety meat, poultry product, fish, or shellfish or a food with these raw time/temperature controlled for safety items as ingredients; using freezing as a means to achieve parasite destruction; serving a primarily high risk clientele including immuno-compromised or elderly individuals in a facility that
provides either health care or assisted living; or using time in lieu of temperature as a public health control for time/temperature controlled for safety food or performs a food handling process that is not addressed, deviates, or otherwise requires a variance for the process. Examples of risk level IV activities include, but are not limited to:

     (1) Reheating bulk quantities of leftover time/temperature controlled for safety food more than once every seven
            days; or
     (2) Caterers or other similar food service operations that transport time/temperature controlled for food safety.

Seasonal food service operation/retail food establishment- means a food service operation, other than a mobile food service operation, that is operated for not more than six months in a licensing period.

Ohio Administrative Code
Rule 3701-21-02.4 Food service operation inspection frequency.

Ohio Revised Code Section 3717.01 | Retail food establishments - food safety operations definitions.