Houston Health Department

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need a food dealer's permit to sell food to my friends?

Except for private parties and family gatherings, anyone who sells or serves food (edible products) is required to obtain a food dealer's permit from the Houston Health Department.

A permit is required regardless of whether the food is intended to be consumed on or off the premises and regardless of whether there is charge for the food.

How do I get a food dealer's permit?

The Houston Health Department inspector must inspect and approve your facility to issue a food dealer's permit. Please review the opening a food establishment in the City of Houston guidelines.

How do I renew my food dealers permit? 

Food dealers permits expire one year from the date of issue. A renewal invoice will be mailed to your preferred mail address 30-45 days prior to expiration.

Your renewal payment may then be mailed to:

PO Box 300008
Houston, Texas 77230-0008

Your new permit will be mailed to you within 2 business days of receipt of your payment. Payments received after the permit expiration date may incur a late payment fee.

If you do not receive your renewal invoice or new permit please contact our office at 832-393-5100.

I have a great family recipe. Can I start my business in my home? 

According to the Houston Food Ordinance link to this section, Section 20-21.1, food prepared in or obtained from an unlicensed private home or other unlicensed food establishment is prohibited.

Do I need other permits to operate a food establishment in the City of Houston? 

Visit The City of Houston's Office of Business Opportunity for no-cost programs and services that will help small business owners thrive in today’s competitive business environment. 

If you manufacture foods for retail sale, you must also register with the Texas Department of Health as a food manufacturer.

For food establishments located in Harris County, but outside of Houston city limits, contact the Harris County Health Department.

Is there a certification program for food establishment operators? 

The City of Houston Food Ordinance requires that each food establishment must have a certified manager on duty at all times. Food manager certification classes are offered by the Houston Health Department.

How do I file a food-safety and sanitation related complaint against a food establishment? 

The Houston Health Department investigates consumer complaints against food establishments in the City of Houston. Please call 832-393-5100 to register a complaint against a food establishment.

How does the local media obtain information about my food establishment inspection report? 

Find Houston food inspection reports.

Where do I find more information about the Houston Health Department? 

Learn more about the Houston Health Department.

I think I got sick from eating at a restaurant. I have a portion of the food in my refrigerator at home. Will someone from your department pick up the food from my home and have it tested? 

No. The food has left the possession of the food establishment. The food may have been subject to time/temperature abuse or possible contamination. It is not considered to be an official sample. The Houston Health Department laboratory will not accept an unofficial sample. An official sample is a sample collected by a sanitarian or epidemiologist in accordance with Houston Health Department's procedures for regulatory use.