Farmer's Markets

Do I need a license to sell food at a Farmer’s Market? While some foods may be sold without a license, most foods requiring preparation or refrigeration do require the vendor to hold a Retail Food Establishment License.

Can I use my Temporary Event License at a Farmer’s Market? A “Temporary Event” is defined as a single community event or celebration that operates for a period of time of not more than fourteen (14) consecutive days and may include town celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Farmers markets are specifically excluded. Therefore, a Temporary Event Retail Food Establishment License is not valid at a farmer’s market.

Do I need a license to roast and sell chilies? Chili roasting operations are required to have a Retail Food Establishment License. The chilies must be washed in potable water at a commissary, and a handwashing facility must be available at the site where the chilies are roasted and sold. Contact your local Environmental Health Department for details.

Food Safety

Is a Food Handlers Card required in the State of Colorado? Though recommended, food safety training is not required of food workers in Colorado

Where do I get food safety training? From the list on the Cottage Food web page, one may choose from a variety of on-line courses, or hands-on, in person instruction in an operator’s restaurant. Contact your local Environmental Health Department for details.

How do I know if I need a Retail Food License? A Retail Food license is required if your operation meets the definition of a "Retail Food Establishment". A Retail Food Establishment means a retail operation that stores, prepares, or packages food for human consumption or serves or otherwise provides food for human consumption to consumers directly or indirectly through a delivery service, whether such food is consumed on or off the premises or whether there is a charge for such food

Are retail food licenses transferable? No, Retail Food Establishment Licenses are valid for specific owner, location, and Colorado Department of Revenue account number.

How do I open a restaurant or a grocery store? All foods sold or served to the public must be from an approved facility. All must have at minimum a 3 compartment sink, a handwashing sink, a prep sink, a water heater, a mop sink, and a restroom containing a toilet and a handwashing sink. All equipment must be commercial, and all floors, walls and ceilings must be smooth and easily cleanable. If you intend to build your establishment, you must submit a plan review form and have it approved prior to the start of construction. If you instead plan to purchase an existing establishment, you will need to have a Change-of-Ownership inspection conducted. Having secured an approved facility, you will need to obtain a Sales Tax License from the Colorado Department of Revenue, complete and submit an Application for a Retail Food Establishment License, available from Alamosa County Public Health Department office, along with the appropriate license fee.

What is potentially hazardous food? Potentially Hazardous Food (time/temperature control for safety food)" means a food that requires time/temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation. "Potentially Hazardous Food (time/temperature control for safety food)" includes: (1) A food of animal origin that is raw or heat-treated, a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation, or garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation.

Do Plans need to be submitted for the construction of a retail food establishment? Yes, plans must be submitted, reviewed, and approved before the start of construction. Review more on the Restaurant Plan Review Form.

Are retail food workers required to have a food handler card? No, SLV Regional Environmental Health does not require food safety training. But it is highly recommended. As stated in the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rule and Regulations, “Only persons necessary to the operation and maintenance of the retail food establishment shall be allowed in food preparation, food storage, food equipment storage, and ware washing areas.

What are the requirements for equipment used in commercial food establishments? Equipment used in retail food establishments must fabricated of safe materials, and be of commercial design meeting American National Standards Institute (typically, National Sanitation Foundation or Underwriters Laboratories Commercial approved). Domestic equipment is not allowed except in very limited circumstances, as it does not hold up under the heavy use in a commercial kitchen.

Colorado Sales Tax Id numbers You must obtain a Colorado Sales Tax Id number in order to receive a Retail Food Establishment License. Contact Colorado Department of Revenue.

Can I rent time in someone else’s approved kitchen? Yes, an individual may become licensed to operate from any approved facility. There are commercial kitchens whose primary business is renting time to the public. Other operations will produce and package a food product to your specifications. A list is available from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Temporary Food Events

Can I use a temporary food booth from home? No, temporary food operations are required to operate from an approved commissary.

What is the difference between a Mobile Retail Food Establishment License and a Temporary Retail Food Establishment License? While both must report to an approved commissary, the Temporary Retail Food Establishment may operate only at temporary events, and have far less stringent equipment requirements. A Mobile Retail Food Establishment is tied to a specific mobile truck, trailer, or pushcart, and may operate at any event, any location, and at any time, within the travel time and/or distance constraints of their commissary.

Why must a “fixed” licensed facility obtain an additional Retail Food Establishment License to participate in temporary events? The license they hold is valid for the location indicated on their license only. To operate from another location, an additional license is required.

When do vendor applications need to be submitted? Vendor applications must be submitted at least two (2) weeks prior to the start of the event. Vendors not meeting this deadline will be assessed a $50 late fee.

Do I need a Temporary Event Retail Food Establishment License if I have a licensed mobile food truck, trailer, or push cart? No, as long as you operate as a mobile food truck, trailer, or push cart. If you set up a temporary food booth in addition to your licensed mobile food unit, you will need to obtain a Temporary Event Retail Food Establishment License.

Cottage Foods

Do I need to have my food handling/safety training completed before I start selling? Yes, the Colorado Cottage Foods Act requires “producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing by a third-party certifying entity, comparable to and including the United States Department of Agriculture or the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service, and must maintain a status of good standing in accordance with the certifying entity practices and procedures, including attending any classes required for certification.

Do employees in my business need safe food handling training? Yes. All employees directly handling food products are under the same guidelines of the Colorado Cottage Foods Act as stated above and need to have the same safe food handling/processing training and certification.

What pies are allowed in Cottage Food? Many pies are allowed, however, potentially hazardous pies such as some pumpkin and cream pies are not allowed since they support pathogenic growth and therefore require refrigeration. Frozen foods are not allowed cottage foods under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act.

Do you need a license to use/sell home grown goods? You are allowed to use home grown produce and herbs in the products you produce for sale. You do not need a license, but safe food handling/processing guidelines should be followed.

Why can I sell canned jams, but not canned fruits? The preserved products allowed in Colorado as cottage foods (jams, jellies, some fruit butters) have different characteristics than canned fruits and vegetables. Higher amounts of sugar in these products lower the water activity and therefore inhibit the growth of microorganisms

Can I sell canned quick breads? No, cakes and quick breads, baked in a canning jar are not allowed, they are not a safe product. Dry mixes that are labeled can be packed in a canning jar. The only canned products allowed under the Act are jams, jellies, and fruit butters (* jalapeno jelly and pumpkin butters are NOT allowed)

Where do I get food safety training to qualify as a Cottage Food Vendor? You can find available dates at your local CSU Extension Office or by visiting www.statefoodsafety.com

Food Trucks and Push Carts (Mobile Units)

Is my mobile food license transferrable between counties? Yes, if it is a Retail Food Establishment Mobile Unit.

What is required for a Mobile Food License? Mobile food trucks and trailers that have never been licensed by Alamosa County Public Health Department must go through a Plan Review. To determine the type of plan review that is appropriate for you contact us in Alamosa at 719-589-6639 or Del Norte at 719-657-3352. Mobile food trucks that have been previously licensed by Alamosa County Public Health, may be inspected and licensed at our Alamosa County Public Health offices or Rio Grande Public Health office, by appointment.

What is a commissary, and why do I need one? A commissary is a facility approved by the health department as a base of operations for a mobile food establishment where food, containers, and supplies are kept, handled, prepared, packaged or stored, and where fresh water is replaced, and waste water is disposed of. Most commissaries are licensed fixed restaurants used by agreement between management of the restaurant and the mobile food operator. A Commissary Agreement must be completed and submitted for licensing. The Colorado Co Pack Directory maintains a list of approved kitchens whose sole purpose is to rent time to the public.

Do I need a separate Colorado Sales Tax Id number for my mobile Unit, if I already have one for my restaurant? Yes, you must obtain a new Colorado Sale Tax Id number for each mobile, unit for each county you operate in. If you own a restaurant and have a catering service, you must contact the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Body Art

Do I need a license to perform Body Art? You are required to conduct body are procedures in an approved and inspected facility, comply with Code of Colorado Regulations, and pay a yearly inspection fee. However, a license is not required. Code of Colorado Regulations

How do I open a Body Art facility in the San Luis Valley?  You must have an opening inspection performed by an Environmental Health Technician, before opening. Correct any violations of the Code of Colorado Regulations, and pay the yearly inspection fee. Once violations are corrected and the inspection fee is paid, the San Luis Valley Public Health Department will approve your ship to operate. Contact Gary Bruder, Regional Environmental Health Program at 719-587-5206 for an opening inspection.

Can I do Body Art from my home? Section 5-516 of the Colorado Regulations requires that all body art establishments shall be completely separated from areas used for human habitation.

Child Care

How do I get a license for a Child Care facility? Child care centers are licensed by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Child Care. However, these licensed child care facilities are required to have an inspection by the state or local health department and comply with the Regulations Governing the Health and Sanitation of Child Care Facilities in the State of Colorado prior to licensing and at least once every two years of operation.

Does Public Health routinely inspect home day cares? No, but we do investigate complaints related to such facilities. The only in home facilities that local Public Health regulates are group homes. If you have questions about either starting a home day care or having your child attend a home day care, please contact the Colorado Department of Human Services – Child Care Division at 303-866-5948.

What is the difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant and disinfecting with bleach? A sanitizer reduces the bacterial count, including disease causing microorganisms, to a safe level and is required to be used on surfaces in childcare settings such as toys, tabletops, and food preparation surfaces. A disinfectant eliminates most or all disease causing microorganisms (with the exception of bacterial spores) and is required to be used on surfaces in childcare settings such as diaper changing tables and restrooms, as well as areas contaminated with High Hazard Body Fluids such as blood, urine, vomit, or feces. See our Sanitizer and Disinfectant Guidance for Childcare Centers, and our Guidelines for using Bleach in Child Care.

Where can I get training for Child Care Center Staff?  Contact Alamosa County Public Health at 719-589-6639

Pools, Spas, and Water Features

How do I make a complaint about a pool? If you find unsanitary conditions existing at a public pool or spa, contact the Regional Environmental Health here, or by calling 719-589-6639

How can I find a copy of the swimming pool and spa regulations? State Board of Health Regulations Pertaining to Swimming Pools

Why do the pool areas smell of chlorine? The chlorine smell is the actually chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with urine, feces, sweet, and dirt from swimmers bodies. These chemicals, not chlorine, can cause your eyes to get red and sting or make you cough or make your nose run. A pool that is properly chlorinated will not have a strong chemical smell.

Bed Bugs

What are bed bugs? Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, are brown with a flat, oval-shaped body and can be smelly, emitting a “musty-sweetish” odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body. Bed bugs are considered a public health pest and are not known to transmit or spread disease. Bed Bug Fact Sheet

Can bed bugs spread disease?  Bed bugs have not been shown to transmit diseases and are not considered a public health hazard. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. In some instances, the itching can lead to excessive scratching which may increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What does a bed bug look like?  Bed bugs range from 1mm to 7mm long (less than 1/4 of an inch - roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), are wingless, and have a flat head and a flat, oval body. Young bed bugs are yellow-white in color and change to a light to reddish brown as they mature. For more information and pictures you can visit: Colorado State University Extension website. You can also contact an entomologist for help identifying bed bugs.

How do I know if I have bed bug?  One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop. Other signs of bed bugs may include the presence of bed bug exoskeletons, actual bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, rusty-colored blood spots on bedding and or a sweet musty odor.

What does a bed bug bite look like?  Bed bugs bites have different effects on every person. When a bed bug feeds on the blood of a person or animal, saliva is injected into the bite wound, which contains proteins that may cause some form of an allergic response. Some people show no signs of bed bug bites, some people have small bite marks, and others have allergic reactions. However, most people experience some level of inflammation, swelling, reddening, and itchiness at the bite site. Bed bug bites are not considered dangerous, but severe allergic reactions may require medical attention. Scratching bed bug bites may lead to secondary skin infections as well.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?  If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. Getting rid of a bed bug infestation involves a combination of cleaning, room-modification, and insecticide administration by a knowledgeable, licensed pest control operator. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated with insecticides containing “pyrethrins”. All pesticides should be applied per the label’s instructions and treat areas where bed bugs are known to live. Wash all draperies, bedding and clothing in hot water and place them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes. Bed bugs and their eggs can be vacuumed up with a nozzle attachment. Vacuum all the crevices on mattresses, bed frames, baseboards and any objects close to the bed. Steam clean and vacuum carpets. Vacuum daily and be sure to immediately empty your vacuum in an outside trash can. Be vigilant and conduct regular inspections.

My home/apartment has been treated, but they are back. What do I do?  Bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of and bed bug control usually requires multiple visits by a licensed pest control operator and diligence on the part of those who are experiencing the infestation.

I am renting and have bed bugs, what should I do?  It is best to read your lease first, as it may contain information as to who is responsible for treating pests. If your land lord is responsible, contact your land lord. If you are responsible, contact a licensed pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. Regardless of who is responsible, getting rid of a bed bug infestation involves a combination of cleaning, room-modification, and insecticide administration.

Can the Health Department make my landlord get rid of bed bugs in my rental property?  San Luis Valley Environmental Health Departments do not have a Housing Ordinance and do not have legal authority over private property including rental properties. Public Health can document a bed bug problem and provide educational resources on how to prevent and eliminate a bed bug infestation, but is not able to mandate (require) action by a landlord. If you are renting, it is important to thoroughly read your lease to identify who is responsible for pest control. SLV Environmental Health Departments cannot provide legal services. For further legal questions, you can contact Colorado Legal Services at 303-837-1313.

Can you recommend a pest control company?  Unfortunately, San Luis Valley Health Departments cannot recommend a pest control company. You can find many companies in the Yellow Pages or through an internet search. The Colorado Department of Agriculture at 303-239-4140 can also provide a list of licensed pest control operators.

How do I prevent bringing bed bugs home from hotels when I travel?  Use luggage racks to hold your luggage, instead of setting it on the bed or on the floor. Avoid unpacking your clothes into hotel dresser drawers. Keep your clothes in your luggage (on a luggage rack) or hang clothes in the closet. Check the mattress and the headboard before sleeping. Once you return home, unpack directly into the washing machine, using hot water followed by drying items in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes. Thoroughly inspect your luggage for any signs of bed bugs.