Division Title

Food Safety

 Select one of the links below for more information:


Food Safety and Sanitation Program

Temporary Food Service at NIH Sanctioned Events

Food Safety Consultations for Non-NIH Sanctioned Events

Food Safety Inspection Results

Off-Campus Food Service

Food Safety and/or Suspected Illness Complaints

Food Safety Education Websites

Food Safety and Sanitation Program

The primary purpose of our Food Safety Program is to prevent illnesses arising from the food served in NIH food service establishments.  The program provides periodic comprehensive environmental hygiene inspections of the Clinical Center Nutrition Kitchen and all NIH supported cafeterias and concession stands (on and off campus). These inspections are conducted by food safety professionals in accordance with the most recent edition of the U.S. Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration, Food Code. Inspectors perform risk-based inspections and should not be viewed as the “Food Police.”  The inspection process is an opportunity to educate the operator on the public health reasons supporting the FDA Food Code requirements; when operators are afforded the chance to ask questions about general food safety matters, they may clearly understand the public health significance of non-compliance.  Additionally, inspections are a "snapshot" in time and are not always reflective of the day-to-day operations and overall conditions of an establishment; inspections include examination and evaluation of:
  • Food service facility premises (physical structure)
  • Food production and temperatures
  • Personnel health and hygiene practices
  • Food and utensil storage and handling
  • Equipment cleanliness
  • Solid and liquid waste disposal
  • Pest management protocols
  • General sanitation
In addition to food service facility inspections, our Food Safety Program Manager conducts: 
  • Food service facility plan reviews
  • Enforcement procedures
  • Foodborne illness/adulterated food investigations
  • Temporary food service inspections 
  • Consultative sessions relating to food safety and public health sanitation

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Temporary Food Service at NIH Sanctioned Events

If you are planning an event that will consist of preparing and/or serving food for sale to the NIH general population outside an approved food preparation/service, you must obtain approval prior to the scheduled event. Temporary food events held on the NIH campus are approved on a case by case basis by DOHS and/or theexternal linkDivision of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS). 

There are numerous permanent onsite cafeterias and concessions available that are operated in accordance with NIH policy and the most current FDA Food Code; therefore, a request for temporary food operations on the NIH Main Campus must be fully substantiated by meeting one or more of the following criteria: 

  1. A fundraiser for charitable organization(s)

  2. A cultural awareness event held by a NIH related organization or association (for example: Caribbean Festival, Asian & Pacific Islander American Observance Fair, etc.)

  3. To ensure an adequate food supply if permanent onsite cafeterias and concessions do not have the capacity to support the planned event

Any event that does not meet criteria 1 or 2 must be vetted by DATS prior to completing a temporary food event application to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Contact DATS for vetting at least 45 days before the scheduled event by calling (301) 402-8180 or by email: nihemplysrvcs@ors.od.nih.gov.

After obtaining approval through DATS (if applicable) you should contact us 21 days prior to the event. You will be provided with a copy of the guide “NIH Temporary Food Service Requirements” and a copy of the “Temporary Food Service Plan.” The Temporary Food Service Plan should be completed and returned to us for review and approval at least 14 days prior to the event. The food service plan includes the following information:

  • Location of event

  • Menu items

  • Food storage before and at the event site

  • Equipment and personnel that will be used to adequately protect, store, cook, serve, and maintain hot/cold temperatures 

  • Personal hygiene protocols

We will contact the sponsoring organization’s representatives to ensure that all public health requirements are met and proper food safety practices are used. A mandatory inspection of the temporary food service operation will be performed on the day of the event (any deficiencies must be corrected in a timely manner). Food services will be suspended if deficiencies are deemed to create an immediate and/or substantial danger to public health.


Please contact us at (301) 496-2346 if you have further questions. 


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Food Safety Consultations for Non-NIH Events

We can provide consultative services to those who are planning an event where food is served. Consultation includes: 

  • Planning
  • Equipment 
  • Menu selection
  • Vendor or catering review 
  • Overall sanitation at the event can be provided 

All consult requests should be submitted preferably not later than 14 workdays prior to the event, to ensure proper review time.   

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Food Safety Inspection Results

Food safety inspection reports and other public health consultations are furnished toexternal linkDATS, Food Service Program. Requests for inspection results should be forwarded to our Food Safety Program Manager.

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Off-Campus Food Service

Many off-campus facilities have contract food vendors that are not supported by NIH. All NIH supported facilities are clearly marked with signage that indicates the services are provided byexternal linkDATS. All other food facilities are subject to the local public health system. We can provide information for contacting the local health department to report concerns over non-NIH supported food operations. 

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Food Safety and/or Suspected Illness Complaints

We investigate food safety and sanitation related matters that can affect the health of employees, patients, and visitors; this includes possible foodborne illnesses and food that may be contaminated or otherwise unfit for human consumption.


Persons suspecting they have become ill after consuming something from an NIH facility should report IMMEDIATELY toexternal linkOccupational Medical Service (OMS), Bldg. 10, Room 6C306, for evaluation. OMS will notify us, which may initiate a foodborne illness investigation including employee interviews, facility inspections, laboratory analysis of food, etc.


Persons with concerns regarding alleged spoiled, adulterated, contaminated food, or a facility sanitation issue, should contact us. We will conduct an interview to assess the situation and inspect the facility as needed.  


To contact us regarding a food safety complaint or a suspect illness email or call 301-496-4294. 

All non-safety related complaints and questions about NIH supported food service should be forwarded toexternal linkDATS Food Service Program Manager at (301) 402-8180.


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Food Safety Education Websites

external linkUSDA: Food Safety