Food Inspections

About Inspections

The Food Safety Program's food inspection service is for anyone who operates a retail food establishment.

Registered Environmental Health Specialist perform routine, comprehensive food safety inspections for year-round and seasonal food establishments in Cape May County.


Three ratings are issued:
  • Satisfactory - Demonstrates compliance with Chapter XXIV.
  • Conditionally Satisfactory - A problem exists, such as a faulty dishwasher and a return inspection is necessary.
  • Unsatisfactory - Shows gross, unsanitary conditions that are an immediate threat to the public and this necessitates an immediate closing of the establishment.


Service cost varies by type of operation.

Program Services

Retail food inspections are conducted regularly and are unannounced.

Types of Inspections

  • Complaint Inspection: This is an inspection that may be conducted as a result of a complaints received by the Health Department. The specifics of the complaint will be evaluated and discussed with the person in charge.
  • Follow-Up Inspection: This is an inspection for the specific purpose of re-inspecting critical violations that were not in compliance at the time of the routine inspection.
  • Foodborne Illness Investigation: When foodborne illness complaints are investigated by Department of Health staff, an inspection of the establishment may also be conducted. The inspection focuses on food source, storage practices, food processing techniques, food handling and employee practices.
  • Routine Inspection: This is a scheduled inspection, unannounced to the restaurant. An inspector will conduct a complete inspection covering all items in the regulations for compliance.

Risk Levels

The number of inspections per year is determined by the risk level that is assigned to the business. Risk levels are assigned according to the potential hazard of foodborne illness.

Risk Type 1

A Risk Type 1 food establishment is any retail food establishment that:
  • Heats only commercially processed potentially hazardous foods for hot holding and do not cool potentially hazardous foods.
  • Prepares only non-potentially hazardous foods.
  • Serves or sells only pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous foods.
Such retail establishments may include, but are not limited to:
  • Coffee shops
  • Convenience store operations
  • Hot dog carts

Risk Type 2

A Risk Type 2 food establishment is any retail food establishment that has a limited menu and:
  • Exercises hot and cold holding of potentially hazardous foods after preparation or cooking.
  • Limits the complex preparation of potentially hazardous foods, including the cooking, cooling, and reheating for hot holding, to 2 or fewer items.
  • Prepares, cooks, and serves most products immediately.
Such retail establishments may include, but are not limited to:
  • Quick service operations, depending on the menu and preparation procedures
  • Retail food store operations
  • Schools that do not serve a highly susceptible population

Risk Type 3

A Risk Type 3 food establishment is any retail food establishment that:
  • Has an extensive menu that requires the handling of raw ingredients and is involved in the complex preparation of menu items that includes the cooking, cooling, and reheating of at least 3 or more potentially hazardous foods
  • Prepares and serves potentially hazardous foods including the extensive handling of raw ingredients; and whose primary service population is a highly susceptible population.
Such establishments may include, but are not limited to:
  • Catering operations
  • Commissaries
  • Diners
  • Full service restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Preschools preparing and serving potentially hazardous foods

Risk Type 4

A Risk Type 4 food establishment is a retail food establishment that conducts specialized processes where such activities may require the assistance of a trained food technologist, such as:
  • Acidification designed to control pathogen proliferation
  • Any reduced oxygen packaging intended for extended shelf life
  • Bottling
  • Canning
  • Curing
  • Smoking
Such establishments include those establishments conducting specialized processing at retail, for example, sushi.

Violation Types

  • Critical Violations: Violations of the New Jersey Association of Counties 8:24, which, if left uncorrected, are more likely than other violations to directly contribute to food contamination, or foodborne illness. Examples of critical violations include poor temperature control of food, improper cooking, cooling, refrigeration or reheating temperatures. Such problems can create environments that cause bacteria to grow and thrive, which puts the consumer at risk for foodborne illness.
  • Non-Critical Violations: Violations not directly related to the cause of foodborne illness, but if uncorrected, could impede the operation of the restaurant. The likelihood of foodborne illness in these cases is very low. Non-critical violations, if left uncorrected, could lead to critical violations. Examples of non-critical violations include a lack of facility cleanliness and maintenance.
  • Inspection Report Availability
    To get a printed copy of a food establishment inspection report, please complete the request for access to government records form.