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Health Division

The Health Division enforces food and sanitary laws for Inspectional Services. Learn about our team approach to protecting public health.

The Health Division is responsible for ensuring businesses in Boston meet required state sanitary codes and applicable state laws and local ordinances. We inspect businesses that offer food to the public, including:

  • retail food stores
  • restaurants and caterers
  • daycares, hospitals, and nursing homes
  • food trucks and push carts
  • camps for children, and
  • swimming pools and baths.

How often our division does inspections is based on the type of establishment. We conduct compliance inspections to ensure violations are corrected. Inspectors also respond to all complaints of unsanitary conditions, illness, and health and safety concerns.

What to do if you have a complaint

If you have a complaint about a local food business, you can call us at 617-635-5326, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. You can also call or contact 311

If you think you became ill after eating at a Boston establishment, you should first contact your doctor. Then, contact us to file a complaint and we’ll investigate the complaint. Illness complaints require contact information.

Food service regulations and codes

Mayor's Food Court

We add each food service business to our database when we inspect them. The Mayor's Food Court is our online database that keeps track of food service businesses in the City. You can see ratings based on violations and other data.

Learn More

Letter grading system

The City of Boston adopted an ordinance to create a restaurant and food truck letter grading system.  The system protects consumers and provides them with information about recent health inspections.

We turn violations into a numerical point system. We then use this information to give letter grades that are placed on the wall outside of the establishment. Learn more about our grading system.

Food service permits

All businesses must apply for a permit before they can offer food to the public. Learn how to apply for a food permit.

Part of the permitting process is to get certified as a food manager. The required program teaches you how to handle food the right way. Learn more about the food manager program.


In October of 2018, Massachusetts amended the regulations and  made a few important changes to the food code. Check the state's retail food website for more details.


If you receive a violation during an inspection, you will receive an order of correction on the inspection report. The inspector will review any questions about corrective actions. If you are unable to reach the inspector, call 617-635-5326 and ask for a supervisor.

Retail residential kitchens

We have information about permitting and the Retail Residential Kitchens Ordinance:

Kitchen permit information
Kitchen video guide

Multilingual Documents and Applications

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