skip navigation Smaller text size Reset text size Larger text size
Families & Children Women Teens Adults Seniors People with Disabilities
DHHS Home > Division of Public Health Services > Food Protection >
Learn More about Food Safety Inspections


Food establishments that sell or serve food to the public must obtain an annual license and be inspected by Food Protection. This includes restaurants, food and espresso carts, coffee places, delis, the fresh food sections in grocery stores, schools where food is sold, and more.

Food Protection licenses and inspects nearly 4600 food service establishments in NH. There are many more regulated by local health officers in 15 self-inspecting communities Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol.

The purpose of inspections is to assure that food is being handled properly from preparation through serving. Inspectors observe kitchen workers' food handling practices, assure equipment is working properly, take food temperatures, inspect refrigerators and storage areas, assure water temperatures, and correct level and use of sanitizers. All violations are documented, and a corrective action plan is implemented immediately.

Three types of violations are recorded on the inspection report:

  1. "Priority violations" are food handling practices that, when not done properly, are most likely to lead to foodborne illnesses. These include:
    • controlling temperature, such as cooking meats to the right temperature to kill food borne disease germs, keeping food hot enough until it is served, and keeping food cold enough
    • cooling food properly, washing hands, and using utensils instead of bare hands on "ready to eat" food
    • storing food
    • serving practices
  2. “Priority Foundation violations” is an item or situation that may cause one or more Priority violations. For example, a handsink that is blocked or lacking paper towels or soap.
  3. "Core violations" are primarily maintenance and sanitation issues that are not likely to cause a foodborne illness.

Inspection results are shown using a color rating system — green, yellow, or red — that is driven by priority items being in or out of compliance. Priority violations are the more serious violations that have been found to contribute to foodborne illness or injury.

Green indicates no violations Green indicates that at the time of the inspection there were no Priority violations identified or that any Priority violation(s) found was immediately and permanently corrected on site at the time of the inspection.
Yellow indicates a prior violation not corrected Yellow indicates that a Priority violation was identified and was not corrected immediately or permanently at the time of the inspection.
Red indicates a serious violation

Red indicates:

  • an imminent health hazard was identified during the inspection such as no water or contaminated water, no electricity, or a failed septic system; or,
  • food establishment is operating without a license; or,
  • food establishment has allowed its license to expire.

Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol Adobe Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.

Translate this page


New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852

copyright 2016. State of New Hampshire