Licensing & Inspecting Food Facilities

Photo by Eliza Wiley, Helena Independent Record. Used with permission.

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What Is a Food Facility

Definition: An operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption in a mobile, stationary, temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent facility or location; where consumption is on or off the premises and regardless of whether there is a charge for the food.

Examples: Restaurants, catering facilities, bakeries, delis, coffee shops, bars, meat markets, grocery stores, convenience stores.

Licensing a Food Facility

1. Define your project.

2. Plan your operation completely on paper and get approval from the Health Department before buying any equipment or materials. Contact Laurel Riek at healthinfo(at) or 406-447-8361 for an appointment to discuss your plans.

3. Submit the required plan review information along with the appropriate fee. Make checks payable to Lewis and Clark City-County Health Department.

Submit by email to: healthinfo(at)

Submit by mail to:

     Lewis and Clark County Public Health
     Attn. Laurel Riek
     1930 9th Avenue
     Helena MT 59601

Submit in person, by appointment: 406-447-8361

4. Review may take as long as 30 days.

5. Begin construction or remodeling after your plan is approved. When you're finished building, call 406-447-8361 to arrange an inspection and get your license.

Opening a New Food Facility

Submit a plan review application, plans, menu, and other items listed in the checklist below. Contact Laurel Riek for more information, 406-447-8361 or healthinfo(at)

     Guidelines (PDF)

     Application Fees (Fillable PDF)  

     Application (Fillable PDF) 

     Checklist (Fillable PDF)

Changing Ownership / Significant Menu Changes

     Operation Plan Review 

Mobile Food Units

Examples: Food carts, trailers, kiosks, and semi-permanent buildings designed to be readily movable.

     Guidelines (PDF)

     Application (PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Farmer's Markets

     Farmer's Market Guidance (PDF)

     State Law Regarding Farmer's Markets (PDF)

     Farmer's Market Exemption Registration (PDF) (Microsoft Word)

Fundraisers / Temporary Events

     Application (PDF) (Microsoft Word)

     Instructions (PDF) 

     Baked Goods / Candies 

Cottage Foods 

     Application for Permit

     Administrative Regulations

Inspection of Food Facilities

The Licensed Establishment Program of the Health Department inspects food facilities to ensure food safety. Focus is on practices that are most likely to affect food safety:

  • monitoring food temperatures
  • looking for sources of cross-contamination
  • observing hygienic practices of employees
  • reviewing general sanitation and maintenance

Food Protection Laws and Regulations

Montana Administrative Rules

FDA Food Code 2013


Find Us

Laurel Riek
Program Supervisor

1930 9th Avenue
Helena, MT 59601

2017 Gold Fork Winners

2017 Gold & Silver
Fork Awards

Lewis and Clark Public Health recognized 55 food establishments in Lewis and Clark County on Feb. 22, 2018, for their exceptional efforts to make, serve, and sell safe food to the public. Find out who they are!