Who Inspects What? Our Food Safety Partners

Different agencies are responsible for different types of food safety inspections.  Here is a summary of the work done by each of the food inspection partner agencies in Washington State.


 Retail food establishment inspection - Local Health Departments

Retail establishments are those that sell food directly to the consumer. Whatcom County Health Department and other local health agencies are responsible for inspecting:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Coffee shops
  • Taverns and brew pubs
  • Caterers
  • Temporary vendors at fairs, festivals, farmers markets, and fundraisers.

Follow this link to contact other local health jurisdictions in Washington State: Local Health Departments.


 Tribal facilities and institutions (including retail food establishments on tribal lands) - Northwest Washington Indian Health Board


Hospitals, prisons, and ferries - Washington State Department of Health


Nursing homes and assisted living facilities - Washington State Department of Social and Health Services


Child care centers - Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families


 Wholesale food processors - Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA):

Wholesalers sell food to retail stores or distributors. WSDA is responsible for licensing and inspecting:

  • Custom meat facilities
  • Seafood processing plants
  • Dairy farms
  • Coffee roasters
  • Farms that process fresh produce
  • Some internet food sales
  • Wholesale processors preparing foods that are sold inside Washington State
    • Except most meat products - see US Department of Agriculture 

Wholesale food processors distributing interstate and internationally - US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

FDA inspects wholesale facilities that process food for sale outside of Washington State. FDA partners with WSDA to inspect some processing facilities.


 Wholesale meat processing - US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

USDA is responsible for inspecting wholesale facilities that process most meat products. Foods containing beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, or goat are under USDA jurisdiction.