Retail Food Establishments


Please note the requirements needed when seeking to (a) construct a new, (b) change, or (c) acquire an existing retail food establishment.

If the retail business is a new business, under new ownership, taking on a new name or undergoing renovation, please complete the Food Retail / Plan Review Questionnaire and return it to Consumer and Industry Services (CIS) along with:

  • An electronic copy of the floor plan for the retail establishment showing the location of equipment including:
  1. three compartment sink or commercial ware washing equipment (when applicable)
  2. mop sink
  3. location of restrooms
  4. hand washing sinks (must be conveniently located in all food preparation areas , ware washing areas, and restrooms).

For efficiency of service, digital copies are preferred. Hand drawn renderings of floor plans are also acceptable.

  • Business license or registration with the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
  • Number of available seats in dining area (if a food establishment has over 16 seats, two restrooms must be available).

If the business is keeping the acquired business' original name, please complete the Food Retail / Plan Review Questionnaire and return it to CIS along with:

  • Business license or registration with the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

The completed questionnaire and required documentation can be sent as email attachments to or mailed to

Tennessee Department of Agriculture
Consumer and Industry Services
Attn: Food and Dairy
P.O. Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204

We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to doing business with you.


More than 9,500 retail food establishments in Tennessee are inspected regularly based on their risk category:

  • Establishments with Temperature Controlled Foods or High Risk Firms are inspected twice each year.
  • Seasonal or Moderate Risk Firms are inspected once each year.
  • Low Risk Firms are inspected once every eighteen months.

These retail food firms are required to follow TDA's Retail Food Store Sanitation Rule 8808-04-09 and regulations relating to food storage, facility sanitation, and safety.

Retail food store inspection scores provide a general indication of compliance. Inspection reports describe sanitation conditions and associated health risk findings. Stores must make scores available when asked. A score below 70 requires a follow-up inspection.  

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture maintains retail food store inspection scores online at Retail Inspection Scores for Inspections on or after April 3, 2023

The Tennessee Department of Health maintains restaurant inspection scores.

For more information about TDA's retail food store inspection program, please call (615) 837-5193.

Compliance standards are related primarily to:

  • Demonstration of Knowledge of Person in Charge
  • Employee Health
  • Good Hygienic Practices
  • Prevention of Contamination by the Hands
  • Approved Suppliers and Sources
  • Receiving of Ingredients' Conditions
  • Protection from Food Contamination
  • Proper Cooking Time and Temperatures
  • Compliance with Processes / Food Safety Plan
  • Proper Labeling
  • Safety of Food Practices and Water Sources
  • Proper Use and Handling of Utensils
  • Sanitation of Utensils, Equipment and Non-Food Contact Surfaces
  • Physical Facility
    • Hot and Cold Water
    • Plumbing and Sewage
    • Ventilation and Lighting
    • Garbage and Refuse

To register a complaint about sanitation or food safety at a retail food store, please call (615) 837-5193.