Food Safety

Inspection staff in the fieldIn accordance with the 2013 Iowa Food Code, Linn County Public Health inspects all food establishments in the Linn County area. As of January 1, 2018, Linn County Public Health and the state of Iowa transitioned from the use of the 2009 food code to the adoption of the 2013 food code.

All food service establishments that sell or serve food to the public must obtain a license and comply with the 2013 FDA Food Code. Food establishments may include restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, delis, grocery stores, and temporary food vendors.


Licensed facilities receive unannounced food safety inspections at a frequency that is based on their risk category. Inspections primarily function to ensure food and produce is handled, prepared, and kept in sanitary conditions. In addition, these inspections provide an opportunity for the inspectors to inform and educate the food service professionals about food safety. Please visit the DIA webpage to view completed inspections in your area.

Violations within the Three-Tier Risk Designation System

Priority Item

Items with a quantifiable measure to demonstrate control of potential hazards, such as:

  • Cooking
  • Reheating
  • Cooling
  • Handwashing

Priority Foundation Item

Items that require the purposeful incorporation of specific actions, equipment, or procedures by management to attain control of risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness or injury. These items may include:

  • Personnel training
  • Infrastructure or necessary equipment
  • HACCP plans
  • Documentation or record keeping
  • Labeling

Core Item

Items that usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance. When possible, violations are addressed on-the-spot. If the facility is unable to correct the identified issues, a re-inspection is warranted. Violations of priority items must be corrected within 72 hours. Priority Foundation items and HACCP Plan deviations must be corrected within 10 days of the violation. Unless otherwise approved by the regulatory authority, facilities have 90 days to correct Core item violations.