Smart Start Package: Requirements for Public Health approval of your food premises

Download this Smart Start package as a printable PDF 

Getting Started

Congratulations on your business plans.

This package lists the steps you must follow to get Public Health approval for your proposed food premises. This package will also help your business comply with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17

The steps in this package are for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health approval only. You should contact your local municipal office and building department for additional requirements, such as zoning and business licensing.

If you need further information or assistance, please contact your area Public Health Inspector, call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753, or send an email to

This package was adapted with permission from Lambton Public Health.

April 2019

Cooking in a commercial kitchen - cover image from Smart Start package

Step 1

Contact the municipality to determine if the premises complies with zoning and other municipal by-laws. Do this before submitting your application to Public Health.

If a septic tank system is proposed, contact the municipality for information and approval of the

Step 2

If you are opening a new food business, complete the enclosed Notice of Intent to Operate a Food Premises form.

Why? Section 16(2) of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act requires that every person who intends to commence to operate a food premise shall give notice of the person’s intention to the medical officer of health of the health unit in which the food premise will be located.

Step 3

When planning construction or renovations, follow our suggestions for the construction materials and equipment (see Appendix). Our suggestions are not an exhaustive list, but they should help for planning. Feel free to contact us for advice.

Food prepared in private homes require a kitchen that is entirely independent from the home kitchen. This kitchen will be inspected as per the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17, by your Public Health Inspector.

Note: Construction is regulated under the Ontario Building Code. Contact your local building and fire department for more information.

Step 4

Prior to construction or renovation, inform Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health about your plans and provide information concerning the physical features and the nature of operation of the food premises. Include a copy of plans to scale and the proposed menu.

Plans and specifications should contain the following information:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of the applicant
  • Legal description of the property
  • Complete floor plans of the proposed structure drawn neatly and to scale, showing:
    • the dimensions of all rooms;
    • location of all equipment (label or provide list);
    • location of sinks and handwashing sinks;
    • location of all washrooms;
    • location of the ventilation equipment;
    • location of grease traps;
    • description of materials to be used on floors, walls, and ceilings in all rooms;
    • location of well if on a private or communal water supply, and type of well (drilled or dug); and
    • location of sewage system if on a private sewage system (septic tank).

Your area Health Inspector will contact you to review and approve your plans. This will ensure you are compliant with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17.

Step 5

Contact your area Health Inspector at least 7 days prior to opening to arrange a pre-opening inspection.

Any changes to the plans after approval must be submitted to your Public Health Inspector prior to opening.

Other Useful Information

Thanks for following the above steps to getting Public Health approval of your food premises.

The information below may also benefit your business.

Food Handler Certification

Section 32 of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation 493/17 requires that there is at least one food handler or supervisor on-site in a food service premise during every hour the premise is operating. To obtain further information on how to obtain food handler certification, visit Food Safety Training & Certification.


Public Health offers a variety of free posters about handwashing, keeping food safe, and proper use of 2- and 3-compartment sinks. You may ask a Public Health Inspector for copies of laminated posters.

Home Canned Products

If you intend to prepare and sell canned products, consult with your area Health Inspector prior to production. All canned items must be made from a validated recipe by a reputable source specifying processing time, temperature, measured ingredients, and container size.

High risk (low-acid) items such as vegetables, chutneys, and soups must be prepared in a pressure canner to reach the proper temperatures to kill Clostridium botulinum spores.

Low risk (high-acid) items such as jams, jellies, and vinegar-based pickles and relishes may be prepared in a boiling water canner.

Processed Meat Products

As of January 1, 2014, amendments to the Meat Regulation 31/05 allow food service premises to produce a limited quantity of processed meat items (e.g., jerky, salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto) without a meat plant license. Premises solely conducting low risk meat processing activities such as aging, packaging, and slicing may also operate without a license within a limited quantity.

If you intend to conduct meat processing activities, contact your Public Health Inspector to determine whether your proposed operation meets the requirements of the exemption.

Non-exempted operations require a license which is enforced by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Smoke-Free Ontario Act Compliance

If you intend to operate a bar or restaurant, contact Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4664 to speak with a Tobacco Enforcement Officer. The officer will help ensure your premises complies with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

As of July 1, 2018, smoking (tobacco and cannabis) and vaping are not permitted on all bar and restaurant outdoor patios, regardless of whether the patios are covered or uncovered. For more information, visit Where you can’t smoke or vape in Ontario.



Notice of Intent to Operate a Food Premises (PDF)


Suggested Construction Materials


Floor covering must provide a smooth, easily cleanable and non-absorbent surface. Here are some examples:

  • Trowelled cement. A mechanical, steel-trowelled process with an applied hardener and sealer is necessary to provide a tight, smooth and non-absorbent finish.
  • Dry vinyl floor coverings that are high grade industrial strength which cover the floor wall to wall.
  • Non-slip ceramic tiles that have been grouted to create a smooth surface at the same level as the tiles. A non-slip sealant is suggested when quarry tiles are installed.

Floors should be coved in the corners and extended up to the wall a minimum of 15 cm (6”). Baseboards or mouldings can take the place of coving.

*** Carpet and rugs are permitted in dining areas only.


Here are some wall materials you may use:

  • drywall
  • plaster
  • cement block (sealed and painted)
  • ceramic wall tile
  • pre-finished PVC or aluminum wall coverings

For walls to be readily cleaned and maintained in a sanitary condition, we recommend a good quality paint, such as high gloss or semi-gloss latex or enamel paint. Paints used in food preparation areas and walk-in refrigerators or freezers should be light in colour, stand up to scrubbing, and have mould inhibitors.

Stainless steel, arborite, or ceramic tiles should be installed to protect the wall surfaces behind cooking areas, heavy wear areas, or wet dishwashing areas.

Where movable equipment could damage walls, properly finished bumpers should be installed to protect the walls.

Acceptable material for canopies and hoods is stainless steel in accordance with Fire Department specifications.


Painted drywall is recommended. If you wish to use suspended ceilings, the tiles must be smooth, non-absorbent, and easily cleaned.

Ceiling tiles must be kept clean and replaced when broken. Where a decorated ceiling (i.e. wine glass holder at bar) is installed, the original ceiling above must be smooth and painted.

Open ceilings with exposed vents and piping are not recommended in the kitchen and preparation areas. If an open ceiling is part of the dining décor, all pipes and vents must be painted and a maintenance plan must be in place for routine cleaning.

Pipes and Wires

Plumbing pipes, electrical wires, and electrical panels must be enclosed to facilitate cleaning.


Food preparation areas must be well lit for the safety of employees and so that areas can be properly cleaned and sanitized. Lighting throughout the premises must meet the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and is enforced by the local building department.

All lighting fixtures should be secured tightly to the ceiling to facilitate cleaning. Ensure light fixtures are shatterproof or protected by a covering over food preparation and food storage areas.


Handwashing basins must be a separate unit and of such size that will not promote other uses. The handwashing basin is to be used for hand-washing only. Handwashing basins are required in a location convenient for employees in each processing, preparation, and manufacturing area.

Dishwashing sinks must be large enough to easily contain the utensils or equipment being cleaned.

A 3-compartment sink or commercial dishwasher is required for cleaning and sanitizing multi-use dishes and utensils.

A 2-compartment sink is satisfactory when only single-use utensils are used, such as at a food take-out restaurant.

A separate janitor’s sink is recommended for disposal of cleaning wastes (e.g., water in a mop bucket).

If a hose is used in connection with any sink, ensure a back flow preventer is installed to prevent the possible contamination of the potable water supply.

Suggested Equipment

Any article or piece of equipment used for the manufacturing, distribution, sale, offering of sale, preparation, processing, handling, transportation, storage, or display of food shall be of sound, tight construction, kept in good repair, and of such form and material that it can be readily cleaned and sanitized.


Stainless steel or prefinished shelves are recommended for the dry food storage area. Wood shelving must be painted or properly sealed. Ensure shelves are at least 15 cm (6”) off the floor.

Cutting Boards

Polyethylene (plastic) is the recommended material for cutting boards, blocks, bowls, platters, and churns. Hardwood may be used if it is maintained in a clean and sanitary manner and its use does not create a health hazard.

Dipper Wells

Dipper wells with a constant supply of potable water are to be used where ice cream, frozen confections or desserts are served.

Natural Gas Cooking Equipment

Gas ranges, fryers, woks, grills, etc., shall be equipped with wheels and extended flexible hosing to allow cleaning and sanitizing of walls and floors around the equipment. Contact the local gas company for inspection.

Walk-In Refrigerators/Freezers

Stainless steel or prefinished lining and shelves are recommended for walk-in refrigerators and freezers. Wood must be properly sealed.

Trapped floor drains are recommended for walk-in refrigerators to facilitate easy cleaning. Consult the plumbing inspector in your area to ensure trapped floor drains are permitted in refrigerator units.

Commercial Dishwashers

Domestic dishwashers are not permitted. All dishwashers must be provided with accurate indicating thermometers and must use an approved disinfection method. High temperature dishwashers must obtain a temperature of 82oC for at least 10 seconds during the rinse cycle. For low temperature dishwashers that utilize a chemical disinfectant such as chlorine, a 3-cycle machine is recommended to permit the use of a rinse agent.


Ventilation canopies are required over all cooking and high temperature dishwashing equipment that produce heat, steam, condensation, odour, smoke, or fumes.

Ventilation equipment shall be vented to the outside and be of sufficient size as to be effective. Contact the local building department for guidance.

Garbage Storage

Garbage storage areas should be constructed of metal, treated wood, concrete or similar material that can be easily cleaned and prevent entry of insects and rodents.