Food Safety For Businesses

Food establishments in the North Shore are inspected by the Environmental Health Consortium to verify food safety practices and facilities are being maintained in accordance to the 2009 Wisconsin Food Code which is based on the  2009 FDA Model Food Code. The FDA Model Food Code contains helpful Annexes that are not in the Wisconsin Food Code such as "Public Health Reasons". The FDA also has the 2009 Model Food Code in Spanish.

Each person who is licensed to operate a food service operation shall employ, or shall personally be a person who holds a valid, current certificate of food protection practices. 

Licensing Application

Food Code Fact Sheets Created by the Wisconsin Divisions of Public Health and Food Safety to assist with training about principles of the food code. Many of these fact sheets are available in other languages: Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Lao, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Opening a Food Business

The North Shore Environmental Health Consortium requires a Plan Review for all new construction and major remodeling.The FDA's Food Establishment Plan Review Guide contains additional guidance information on design, installation and construction of retail food facilities.


According to Section 1-104.11 of the Wisconsin Food Code any establishment can apply for a modification or waiver that allows that establishment an exemption from strictly following what is written in the food code. When an establishment wants to operate outside the food code limits the Department may approve a modification for that establishment if the Department is provided with satisfactory proof that the grant of a variance will not jeopardize the public's health, safety, or welfare. The request for a modification or waiver of requirements should be submitted in writing to the North Shore Environmental Health Consortium for review of the documents. The North Shore Environmental Health Consortium will review and forward it to the State with recommendations for approval or disapproval. If approved the Milwaukee Health Department shall keep a copy on file and will review yearly with operator.

Documentation justifying a proposed modification or waiver shall include the following

  • A statement of the proposed variance citing the relevant chapter section numbers of the Wisconsin Food Code
  • An analysis of the reasoning for how the potential public health hazards and nuisances will be addressed if not following the Wisconsin Food Code by the proposed variance.
  • A HACCP plan may also be required.

State Variance applications must be first submitted to the North Shore Environmental Health Consortium using State Variance forms.

DATCP Variance Petition Application - PDF

Many common code references used can be found in the list below

 Examples of when a Variance may be required

  • Serving raw animal foods without a consumer advisory (WFC 3-401.11)
  • Smoking food as a measure of food preservation (WFC 3-502.11)
  • Curing food (WFC 3-502.11)
  • Using food additives or adding components such as vinegar as a measure of food preservation or to render a food non-potentially hazardous.  (WFC 3-502.11)
  • Packaging Food using a reduced oxygen packaging method except where the growth of and toxin formation by Clostridium botulinum and the growth of Listeria monocytogenes are controlled as specified under (WFC 3-502.12)
  • Preparing food by any other method that is determined by the State to require a variance such as fermentation (WFC 3-502.12)
  • The slaughter and evisceration of any animal or fish, other than MOLLUSCAN SHELLFISH of a species not amenable to inspection under the Wisconsin or USDA meat inspection programs. (WFC 3-502.12)
  • Dogs and outside dining areas (State Policy)
  • Bathrooms accessible to the public
  • No licensed service base (Mobile Page)
  • Molluscan shellfish life support systems 3-502.11
  • Sprouting seeds or beans
  • Custom processing animals that are for personal use as food and not for sale or service in a food establishment.


HACCP plans are required to be implemented for the following items. For exact code requirements see the code reference next to the items.

  • Cook/Chill operations (WFC 3-502.12)
  • Sous Vide operations ( WFC 3-502.12)
  • Reduced Oxygen Packaging of potentially hazardous foods that will be refrigerated and meet at least one of the following criteria
  • Cheese ( commercially manufactured in a food processing plant) (WFC 3-502.12)
  • Foods with an aw of .91 or below
  • Foods with a pH of 4. or below
  • Cured meats or poulties received in the package and produced by a USDA or WIDATCP regulated establishment.
  • Foods with a high level of competing organisms such as raw meat, poulty, and vegetables
  • Selling or serving juice made at the food establishment without a warning label (WFC 3-404.11)
  • Serving juice made at the food establishment or combining raw shell eggs in a food establishment that serves a highly susceptible population (WFC 3-801.11)
  • In most cases with any variance request (WFC 1-104.12)


Resources for HACCP Plans


If you are ready to start working on your HACCP plan, resources can be found below. Note that all templates must be modified to be consistent with your operation's procedures. After the plan has been reviewed, your operation will be inspected to ensure the procedures outlined in the submitted plan are consistent with what is happening in the operation.

Please call or email if you are considering expanding into any specialty food processing and have any questions on the forms or process involved.

Environmental Health Specialist: Brad Simerly, R.E.H.S.

Fact Sheets:

Food Safety Recalls