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 Early Learning

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.