Statement for Restaurant Partners


Food Division

The Food Division of the Wells County Health Department is responsible for licensing and inspecting retail food establishments/bed and breakfast establishments, as well as conducting food-borne illness investigations, responding to consumer complaints, and reviewing plans for food establishments that are opening or remodeling within Wells County.  Food Establishment inspections are conducted in an educational manner to ensure the staff fully understands the importance of promoting sanitary conditions in the food establishment, and to ensure that they are providing consumers with safe food.

In the United States of America, an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. If you believe you or someone you know became ill from eating a certain food, please contact the Wells County Health Department as soon as possible. Reporting illnesses helps health departments identify potential foodborne disease outbreaks. By investigating foodborne disease outbreaks, public health officials learn about possible problems in food production, distribution and preparation that may cause illness.  You may also contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Public Inquiries regarding foodborne illnesses at 404-639-3534 or 800-311-3435.

If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, help prevent more illness: call or email the Health Department! Complete the Consumer Illness Complaint form and fax, email  or mail it to the Health Department at 223 W. Washington Street, Bluffton, IN 46714


For a list of the most recent food recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts, please visit

Considering Buying Raw Milk? 

Raw milk is gaining in popularity due to its reported health benefits.  But are the benefits worth the risk?

Information about raw milk:
Raw milk is milk that has not been heat treated to kill harmful bacteria through pasteurization.  Pasteurization is a process where the raw milk is heated briefly to a specific temperature to destroy pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.  While claims have been made that pasteurization destroys beneficial bacteria and essential nutrients, many studies have shown that pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk – pasteurized milk is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Heat slightly affects a few of the vitamins found in milk–  thiamine, vitamin B12, and vitamin C– but milk is only a minor source of these vitamins.

Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses.  These illnesses killed many people each year, especially young children.  In the 1900s many mothers recognized this risk and would boil milk (bringing it to a temperature of 212°F) before giving it to their infants and young children.

Here are some common myths and proven facts about milk and pasteurization:

  • Pasteurizing milk DOES NOT cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.
  • Raw milk DOES NOT kill dangerous pathogens by itself.
  • Pasteurization DOES NOT reduce milk’s nutritional value.
  • Pasteurization DOES NOT mean that it is safe to leave milk out of the refrigerator for extended time, particularly after it has been opened.
  • Pasteurization DOES kill harmful bacteria.
  • Pasteurization DOES save lives.

Even though a farm may have their raw milk tested for pathogens and have never had any reported illnesses, there are still risks, as the presence of bacteria can vary from one batch of milk to the next, depending on how it was collected.  Not only can illness from these pathogenic bacteria cause vomiting and diarrhea from days to weeks, but also in many people, the infection caused long term damage to the liver and kidneys, requiring ongoing dialysis treatments.

See the stories of three women and their experiences with raw milk:

For more information about raw milk, visit:
FDA – Raw Milk

Food Permit Applications:

Click the forms below to download the PDF version.  Requires Adobe Acrobat

Retail Food Permit Application (For Seasonal, Limited, and Retail Food Permits)
Mobile Food Establishment Permit Application
Vending Machine Food Permit Application
Temporary Food Establishment Permit Application
Farmers Market Food Permit Application

Permit Fee Schedule:

Retail Food Establishment – $100.00 per year
Farmers Market Permit – $10.00 per six (6) months
Mobile Food Establishment – $35.00 per year
Seasonal Food Establishment – $50.00 per six (6) mo.
Limited Food Permit – $35.00 per year
Temporary Food Establishment – $5.00 per day
Bed & Breakfast Establishment – $35.00 per year
Vending Permit – $20.00 per location, not to exceed $100.00

Any new Retail Food Establishments (this includes new permits for change of ownership or location) required after September 30 of the calendar year – $50.00 for remainder of year                                                                                               

A late fee of $20.00 per day of operation will be assessed for failure to pay the permit fee prior to operation of the food establishment, or for failure to renew a permit before the close of business on the Health Department’s last working day of the year.

Rules and Regulations

All retail food establishments in Wells County are regulated under Title 410 IAC 7-24 Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements, as well as Wells County Ordinance No. 2007-19.  410 IAC 7-24 outlines the minimum sanitation requirements for food establishments, and Wells County Ordinance No. 2007-19 establishes permitting and inspection requirements for food establishments, including temporary establishments, mobile food vendors, and vending machines. For clarification:

1.  “Temporary food establishment” means a retail food establishment that operates for a period of no more than fourteen (14) consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration with the approval of the organizers of the event or celebration (410 IAC 7-24, Section 98).

2.  “Mobile retail food establishment” means a retail food establishment that is: wheeled; on skids; mounted on a vehicle; a marine vessel; or otherwise readily movable; such as a pushcart or trailer. A mobile food service must have a commissary that it returns to daily for servicing (410 IAC 7-24, Sections 55 & 113).

All persons desiring to offer food to the public, regardless of whether or not there is a charge for the food, must first register with the Health Department.

Food Regulations

IC 16-42-1 Uniform Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: General Provisions
IC 16-42-2 Uniform Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act: Adulteration or Misbranding of Foods
IC 16-42-5 Food: Sanitary Requirements for Food Establishments
410 IAC 7-22 Certification of Food Handlers
410 IAC 7-24 Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements
Wells County Food Ordinance No. 2007-19

IAC 410-7-24, Section 110, requires that plans be submitted to the regulatory authority, with notification of intent to operate at least 30 days in advance. The submission of plans are also required by other state and county entities, such as Fire and Building Services, Area Plan Commission, and Sanitary Engineering.  To ensure your plans are complete, a Plan Review Questionnaire must also be submitted to the Wells County Health Department for review.  For plan requirements and questionnaire, please see “Permitting Procedure and Retail Food Establishment Construction Requirements” and “Plan Review Questionnaire” provided in the Documents section.

Thinking about starting your own food business?  Things to consider – Click Here

Starting A Business In Indiana – Click Here

Value-Added Foods & Farmers Market Info

If you wish to sell food at a Farmers’ Market, please contact the Wells County Health Department for further information.

Home based vendors may now sell food at farmers’ markets or at roadside stands, according to House Enrolled Act 1309.  Home based vendors are those persons producing non-potentially hazardous (shelf stable) food at their place of residence and selling it at farmers markets or roadside stands.  Such food is required to have strict labeling and may not be potentially hazardous (examples of potentially hazardous foods are meat, dairy products, whole eggs, cooked vegetables, cooked noodles, soups, etc.).  Anyone selling potentially hazardous food must have a licensed and inspected kitchen.

For an overview of home based vendor requirements, click here.

House Enrolled Act 1309 – Home Based Vendors

ISDH Guidance on Honey Production

Guidance on Fresh Produce

Guidance on Maple Syrup Production

Guidance on Prepackaged Frozen Meat, Poultry and Rabbit for Retail Sale

Permitting and Sanitation Requirements:

Click the forms below to download the PDF version.  Requires Adobe Acrobat.

Overview of Sanitation Requirements – Summary of requirements established in 410 IAC 7-24
Permitting Procedure and Retail Food Establishment Construction Requirements
Plan Review Questionnaire – Submit in conjunction with plans when opening a new establishment.
Mobile Food Establishment Requirements and Permitting Procedure
Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook
Home Based Vendors – Overview of requirements needed to be considered a home based vendor and produce food from home to sell at farmers markets or roadside stands
Checklist for Temporary Food Establishments
Food Handler Certification Rule – Mandatory certification of at least one person per food establishment who oversees food safety operations within the establishment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Food Handler Certification
Food Handler Certification Examination and Training Program Providers
Sample Employee Health Policy – Every retail food establishment should have a written policy that requires its employees to notify the owner/general manager, or the “person-in-charge” when they experience symptoms of illness, so appropriate steps can be taken to prevent foodborne disease transmission.
When to Use Gloves

Wells County Inspection Reports

 Food Establishment inspection reports are now available as PDF files (requires Adobe Acrobat).

Hard copies and reports from previous years, as well as inspection reports for temporary food establishments may be requested via email, phone, or walk in. Please indicate the particular establishment that previous inspection reports are being requested of if requesting by phone or email.