Food Safety Program
Food Safety Updates
As of July 1, 2021, the Alexandria Health Department will no longer require the Northern Virginia Food Managers Card. All food businesses will still need to have a certified food protection manager on site at all times of operation, but the additional card will be eliminated.
Health Permits & Licenses
What is food defense?
Food defense means preventing or eliminating the intentional tampering or contamination of food. Tampering or contamination may be biological, chemical, physical, nuclear or radioactive. Deliberate tampering or contamination of food includes malicious, criminal and terrorist acts.
Why should you be concerned with Food Defense?
You and your employees are the front line in protecting the nation's food supply. Everyday thousands of people eat, drink and snack at food establishments in Alexandria. Retail food establishments like yours have been identified as a potential target for intentional tampering and contamination of food. An attack on the food supply in Alexandria could cause mass illness and panic and have a huge effect on our economy.
What should you do?
The FDA, USDA and Homeland Security have created a number of food defense tools for food establishment operators and employees. Ensure that all employees are trained in food defense and can identify potential threats to your food supply. You can start by implementing the Employees FIRST and ALERT initiatives.
- Employees FIRST
- ALERT initiatives
- Creating a Food Defense Plan
- If You See Something, Say Something!TM Flyer
Remember, you and your employees should trust your instincts. If something seems suspicious, it probably is.
View an Inspection
Environmental Health Specialists (or EHSs) do health inspections in person. The type of food you make, and how you make it, decides how many inspections you get. The more complex the food or process, the more visits you get. Almost all inspections are surprise inspections.
We do the following health inspections:
- Risk Assessment
- Pre-opening (scheduled in scheduled)
The Health Department only inspects facilities that need or have a health permit. Local religious groups, some daycares, or fraternal organizations can ask for a courtesy inspection. We also provide courtesy inspections for other agencies like the USDA, Social Services, etc.
Ticket: What to Do
Did you or your business receive a Notice of Violation from the Health Department? You have ten days to decide what to do next. The back of the ticket lists your choices.
Pay the Ticket
- Complete the back of your ticket copy and mark "Admit Violation" or "No Contest."
- Take it to City Hall at 301 King Street. For business hours, visit alexandriava.gov/Payment or call 703.746.3902.
Disagree with the Ticket
- We recommend you first call 703.746.4910 and speak to your Environmental Health Specialist.
- If you still disagree, complete the back of your ticket copy and mark "Contest Violation."
- Take it to the Health Department at 4850 Mark Center Drive within ten days. If you mail your ticket, call us so we know to expect it.
- The Environmental Health Manager will read the ticket and invite you to a hearing at the Health Department. This meeting is your chance to show that the violation did not happen.
- At the end of the hearing, the Manager will decide to uphold or waive the ticket.
Smoking at Resturants
In the City there are major two regulations that control smoking in food establishments:
The Virginia Indoor Clean Air act established a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants in Virginia. However, a restaurant may create a smoking section if it requests permission from the Health Department and it meets one of the exemptions listed under Article 2 of the Act. The most common exemption used by restaurants in Alexandria is when the 'smoking section' is structurally separated and separately ventilated from the 'non-smoking section.' When a restaurant qualifies for this or another an exemption, the Health Department issues a notice (poster) outlining:
- which exemption the facility has met,
- the description of the area that the notice refers to, and,
- a city reference number that our office can refer to during any subsequent investigation.
Title 11, Chapter 10 of the Code of the City of Alexandria sets ratio of smoking to non-smoking seats in a restaurant.
Pets and Restaurants
If you are considering hosting a pet night at your restaurant or business, call us. You will need to apply for a variance from the food code. You must renew this each year. Contact us for more information.