Food Code Licensing Fees Position Statement

Iowa Counties Public Health Association

Food Code Licensing Fees

Position Statement



There is more to the Iowa food program than simply conducting a food safety evaluation. It also requires working with the establishment to develop a corrective action plan, conducting a follow up visit to make sure all items not in compliance have been corrected and investigating complaints from the public. Staff must also conduct plan reviews and on-site visits prior to the opening of an establishment, and review documentation to ensure establishment is in compliance with its operating procedures and any variances granted by the state.

Although the Iowa legislature authorized the increase of food establishment licensing fees in 1979, 1997 and in 2008, the current license fees do not sufficiently cover the costs to operate the program. Since 1979, the highest license fee has increased by 101% ($150 to $303.75). As a comparison, a gallon of milk has increased by 145% ($1.62 – over $4.00).

State appropriations (for state-funded inspections) and local tax dollars (for inspections contracted to local agencies) are necessary to keep this program operating to ensure continued public safety. With some counties subsidizing as much as 45% of the food program costs, it is clear that Iowa’s food program simply cannot provide the level of professional food safety services that are required by modern standards without more fiscal support.


Policy Recommendations:

Authorize an increase in food licensing fees to fund state and local food safety program activities as required by the Iowa Code and minimize the need to use local tax dollars to provide inspection services; and

Adopt fees for plan-reviews of new food establishments, compliance follow-ups, school food programs and reoccurring temporary events. These fees should be established at levels adequate to compensate for the cost of providing these services; and

Support a revised food licensing fee schedule (rounded up to a whole number) and make both retail food establishment fees and food service establishment fees the same to reduce customer confusion; and

Place food fees into the Administrative Rules and link it to the Consumer Price Index so that it can increase annually to keep pace with the rising cost of the program; or

Approve an appropriation to local health departments to fully fund this important public health function. This appropriation should cover the current shortfalls in administration, plan review, food safety evaluations and follow-ups, and educational activities of the food protection program.

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