The Food Control Section licenses and regulates over 5,000 food facilities in Baltimore City. Its mission is to ensure that all food sold and served is safe for consumption. Under Health Code Section 6-101(c), a food service facility means:
- A place where food or drink is prepared for sale or service on the premises or elsewhere; or
- An operation where food is served to or provided for the public with or without charge.
- "Food" includes:
- Beverages (non-alcoholic); and
- Chewing gum or any substance used as component of chewing gum. HE §6-101(b)(2),(3)
- Examples of businesses we license and inspect:
- Grocery store
- Mobile food carts
- Market stalls
- Public and private schools
- Special event food vendors
- Summer camps
- Church kitchens
- "Food" includes:
Effective July 18, 2018, water, milk, and 100% fruit juice are the default beverage options for all restaurant children’s meals in the City.
What does this mean for your food service business?
The only beverages a food service facility may offer paired with a children’s meal are as follows:
- water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners
- milk or a non-dairy milk alternative
- 100% fruit juice or fruit juice combined with water or sparkling water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners, in a serving size of no more than 8 ounces.
However, if the purchaser specifically asks for an option other than those beverages listed above, the food service facility can oblige the request.
Here are some FAQs:
- Do existing menus need to be reprinted?
- Menus need to be changed, but re-printing is not a requirement–in the interim, stickers with new language could be used to cover existing language.
- Does the regulation apply to online menus?
- Does the regulation specify what % fat the milk needs to be offered (1%, 2%, whole, etc)?
- Would it be acceptable to list on children’s menus that meals come with ‘choice of beverage’ versus listing out the beverages cited in the regulation?
- “Choice of healthy beverage” would be acceptable
- What is the plan for enforcement by BCHD?
- BCHD will issue a $100 ECB citation for facilities that are not in compliance as of 7/18/18
- How will the new ordinance be enforced at businesses with self-serve beverage fountains or refrigerated display cases?
- They may wish to place signage in the area, namely, “children’s meals beverages are…” or they could indicate it with a sticker “children’s meal choice,” but none are required.
- Where can the new law be found?
- The Baltimore City Health Code : http://ca.baltimorecity.gov/codes/Art%2000%20-%20Health.pdf
§ 6-509. Children’s meals.
(a) “Children’s meal” defined.
(1) In general.
In this section, “children’s meal” means a combination of food items that is:
(i) prepared by and offered for purchase at a food service facility as a unit at a single price; and
(ii) represented to be or otherwise primarily intended for consumption by children.
(2) Exception for prepackaged food items.
“Children’s meal” does not include a combination of food items that has been prepackaged by or at a facility other than the food service facility offering the prepackaged combination for purchase.
(b) Beverage limitation.
No food service facility may offer a children’s meal that includes a beverage unless that beverage is:
(1) water, sparkling water, or flavored water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;
(2) milk or a non-dairy milk alternative; or
(3) 100% fruit juice or fruit juice combined with water or sparkling water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners, in a serving size of no more than 8 ounces.
Nothing in this section precludes a food service facility from providing, if specifically requested by the purchaser of the children’s meal, any lawful beverage as a substitute or alternative for the beverages being offered in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.
Effective December 13, 2014, facilities offering only prepackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous such as hard-boiled shell eggs that have been air-cooled with the shell intact, bottled sodas and bagged chips as well as hotels, lodging or rooming houses serving only continental breakfast are no longer considered food service facilities and therefore will no longer be licensed by the Baltimore City Health Department.
Additionally, qualifying excluded organizations will be permited to make:
- A non-rescindable decision to operate with a license and in full compliance with COMAR 10.15.03; or
- A decision to operate without a license and in compliance B – E of COMAR 10.15.03.26, which establish the minimum requirements to ensure food safety at a food service facility operated by an excluded organization without a license
An excluded organization is a bona fide nonprofit fraternal, civic, war veterans’, religious, or charitable organization or corporations that does not serve food to the public more often than 4 days per week, except that once a year an organization may serve food to the public for up to 14 consecutive days.
Complaints regarding the unsafe food handling or unsanitary conditions of a food services facility can be reported by calling 311 or by accessing the Baltimore CitiTrack Service Request System online.
Guidelines for Operating Food Establishments
Requirements for Carts and Street Vendors
Temporary Food License Factsheet
Food Service Facilities in Child Care Centers and Family Day Cares
Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR 10.15.03)
Baltimore City Health Code
Regulations for the Certification of Food Service Managers
See Plan Review section:
For information on how do I open a new food establishment, or change ownership of an existing food establishment
If modifying the structure, equipment, layout, menu or food preparation and handling procedures at an existing food service facility
Please Note: In an effort to reduce the use of paper, please submit menu, equipment list, HACCP plan and any other documents you may already have in electronic format via email.
Please Guidelines for Submitting a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan for information and examples on how to prepare your HACCP.
Plastic Bag Reduction Program (pdf): Applies to all Food License Holders
For access to electronic copies of food service inspection reports as of January 1, 2016, please go to Baltimore City Health Department Food Facility Inspection Reports page here.
Food Safety Resources
USDA Fact Sheets
Mail: Environmental Health, 1001 E. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
Closed on Annual Holidays:
- January 1, 2018
- January 15, 2018
- February 19, 2018
- March 30, 2018
- May 28, 2018
- July 4, 2018
- September 3, 2018
- October 8, 2018
- November 6, 2018
- November 12, 2018
- November 22, 2018
- December 25, 2018
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