Restaurants & Food Service
Food Subject to Regulation in Virginia
Food establishments may be regulated by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) through the local Health Department or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), depending on such factors as the type of facility, type of food produced, and the complexity of the food handling operations.
Food Establishments Regulated by VDH through the Loudoun County Health Department
Retail food establishments serve food directly to the consumer and include restaurants, school cafeterias, food service at childcare and adult care facilities, catering operations and concession stands. Review the tabs below for guidance and approval for each of the following food establishments:
- Restaurants (permanent retail food establishments)
- Mobile food units
- Temporary food vendors & Event coordinators
- Youth athletic concession stands
Food Establishments Regulated by VDACS
Contact VDACS directly for guidance and approval for each of the following food establishments:
- Grocery stores
- Farmers markets
- Wholesale/Manufacturing of food intended for resale
- Home-based food businesses
- Mobile Food Units
- Temporary Food Vendors & Event Coordinators
- Youth Athletic Concession Stands
New Construction & Remodeled Food Establishments
All proposed new construction, converted and remodeled food establishments must undergo a plan review.
All new, converted and remodel projects must complete a two-step plan review. Before construction, Food Establishment Plan Review Packet Part 1 (PDF) must be completed which addresses the physical facility and equipment layout. After construction is complete, Food Establishment Plan Review Packet Part 2 (PDF) must be completed which includes a Loudoun County Health Department pre-open inspection. Upon completion of these reviews, the health department may issue a permit to operate.
New Owner of Permitted Food Establishments
All change of owner and new owners of a permitted food establishment that has been previously approved by the Loudoun County Health Department must apply for a permit before operating by completing the Food Establishment Plan Review Packet Part 2 (PDF). Include a copy of your business license and updated menu.
Food Establishments Catering from a Permitted Commissary Kitchen
All proposed commissary kitchens will need to be approved and permitted as a commissary kitchen before a caterer will be approved to operate in the shared kitchen. Call the Loudoun County Health Department at 703-777-0234 to discuss a pre-application consultation.
All caterers wishing to operate in a permitted commissary kitchen will need to obtain their own food establishment permit by completing the Food Establishment Plan Review Packet for Facility/Caterer Using a Commissary Kitchen (PDF).
Food Permit Renewal
Owners of all operating food establishments are required to complete the Food Establishment Permit Renewal Application (PDF) annually to renew the food permit. Permits will be issued to the owner.
Plan Review Guidelines for Mobile Food Units
Potential owners and operators of mobile food units may refer to the Mobile Unit Plan Review Guidelines (PDF) for details about the design elements required by VDH Food Regulations.
New Mobile Food Units
New mobile food operations and new ownership must undergo a plan review. Owners/operators must first complete the Mobile Food Unit - Plan Review Application (PDF) which addresses the design elements, equipment layout and food operations before purchasing and/or construction. Once ready to open, owners/operators must complete the Mobile Food Unit - Permit & Renewal Application (PDF) to apply for a health department permit. A health department inspection is required before a permit is issued.
Renew Mobile Food Unit Permit
Operators of mobile food units in Loudoun County are required to obtain a food permit annually. The permit, in the form of a yellow sticker, is provided after the operator completes the Mobile Food Unit - Permit & Renewal Application (PDF). Operators are expected to bring the mobile unit to the Loudoun County Health Department annually for inspection and issuing the permit.
Temporary Food Vendors
Temporary food vendors operate for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. Temporary food vendors are required to obtain a VDH food permit annually by completing the Temporary Food Vendor Application and Information Packet (PDF). Ten days minimum is required to review applications.
Event coordinators play an important role in ensuring a safe and successful event. In order for the health department to help, event coordinators are required to submit event information at least 30 days prior to the event by completing the Event Coordinator Registration Form and Information Packet (PDF). Event Coordinators will be provided the pertinent information to use during the planning process in advance of all established deadlines to prevent last minute challenges.
A special event is a temporary commercial or festive activity or promotion at a specific location that is open to the public and is planned or reasonably expected to attract large assemblies of persons. Special events include, but are not limited to, carnivals, festivals, circuses, music fairs or concerts, tent revivals, art shows, crafts shows, rodeos, corn mazes, civil war reenactments, equestrian shows, firework displays and events, or similar events open to the public.
To host a special event, the event coordinator is required to complete a Request for Event Planning Information.
Concession stands at youth athletic activities that meet the following criteria are eligible for a restricted permit and are all exempt from permitting fees:
- Concession stands at youth athletic activities that are sponsored by either: a youth athletic association; or any charitable or nonprofit organization or group thereof which is located in Loudoun County and which has been recognized as being a part of the recreational program of Loudoun County by ordinance or resolution of the Loudoun County Board of County Supervisors.
- Youth athletic concessions stands may offer food with no food preparation or limited food preparation. Youth athletic concessions stands that offer food requiring temperature control or more complex food preparation will need to apply as a restaurant.
The Youth Athletic Concessions Application (PDF) may be used to apply for a restricted permit:
- Review the Loudoun County Public Health Ordinance: Chapter 807 - Concession Stands at Youth Athletic Activities.
- Submit a copy of the youth athletic concession stand menu.
- Complete the Food Establishment Youth Concessions Application.
Regulations and Resources
- Code of Virginia: Food Regulations
- Food Guidance Documents
- Loudoun County Restaurant Inspections
- Certified Food Manager Certification
- Employee Health Reporting Policy & Illness Clean-Up Guidelines (PDF)
- Handwashing Signs (PDF)
- Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act
- Requirement to Post Permit & Inspections (PDF)