On December 21, 2010 I wrote that dogs would soon be allowed on restaurant patios. The Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services (EHS) updated their policy last Friday to make this official and I have posted the EHS press-release below along with the new EHS policy and procedure.
A New View: Restaurants May Allow Dogs in
Outdoor Patio Areas at Owner’s Discretion
Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services (EHS) has put in place a new policy which allows animals in outdoor patio areas under certain circumstances and at a restaurant owner’s discretion.
For some time, there has been interest on the part of some restaurant owners and members of the community to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. At issue was the interpretation of the California Health and Safety Code that governs all food facilities in the State, including Santa Barbara County restaurants. It states that “live animals may not be allowed in a food facility”. The new EHS policy reassesses this issue by reviewing outdoor dining service operations and clarifies requirements for restaurants that want to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas.
EHS assessed the health risks that can be increased with dogs in outdoor dining areas. Through this assessment, EHS identified the types of outdoor dining settings that would present low, minimal or no risk to the public. In these settings, restaurant owners allowing dogs in outdoor dining areas would be required to follow practices to minimize
New restaurant inspection criteria were put into place to guide restaurant owners and inspectors. The new policy governing animals in outdoor dining areas can be viewed at www.sbcphd.org/ehs.
There is no change for indoor dining areas. Under the Health and Safety Code, the only animals allowed inside restaurants are service animals accompanying persons with disabilities or service animals such as police dogs.
The Public Health Department is responsible for protecting the health and safety of all residents of our community. This is achieved in part by enforcing and interpreting state health codes following a science based process to diminish the potential for disease transmission and to promote food safety, and good health. The Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Services division regulates all food facilities in Santa Barbara County.
Policy and Procedure
Manual: Environmental Health Services
Original Policy Date: April 29, 2011
Authorized By: Jennifer Bernstein, Director
TITLE: Criteria for Animals Allowed in Outdoor Patio Dining
AUTHORITY: California Health and Safety Code Section, 113789, 112266 b., 113713, 114259.2
POLICY: With the exception of recognized service animals, Health & Safety Code (H&SC) Section 114259 prohibits live animals in food facilities. A food facility is defined as an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food for human consumption (H&SC Section 113789). Consequently, this definition would encompass dining areas with waitress stations or other areas of a food facility where such food operations may occur.
Section 112266.b stipulates that all food facilities must be fully enclosed with the exception of dining areas or other approved outdoor service activities. Outdoor service areas, like patios, must meet approved food service requirements as determined by the Local Enforcement Agency. As the Local Enforcement Agency for Santa Barbara County, Environmental Health Services is primarily responsible for determining what constitutes an approved outdoor service operation. As part of an outdoor service area approval process, EHS will review the exclusion of dogs from patio areas where food is served during the plan check and routine inspection process.
PROCEDURE: These groupings should be used by Environmental Health Specialists to determine under what conditions dogs may be allowed on patios. See attached chart.
In addition to the chart, there are specific code sections that may be cited for violation of the Health and Safety Code. These include:
1 – All surfaces on the patio will be cleaned and sanitized (114115.b, 114117(a)(5))
2 – Table tops will be sanitized between each seating of patrons (114083)
3 – Dogs will not have contact with dishes, utensils, tableware, linens or paper products used by patrons (114074)
4 – Food and water served to dogs will be in single-use, disposable containers (114081)
5 – Food spilled on patio will be immediately cleaned up (114257)
6 – Restaurant employees will not touch or pet dogs while working. If they do, they will wash their hands. Restaurant employees will be trained on this requirement for hand washing.114259.4
7 – Food facilities not meeting the conditions for safe patio food service with animals on the premises, will be cited for violations of the Health and Safety Code. (114259.5, 114397, 113980)
It is the right of a facility owner or operator to deny animals access to their premises; except for service animals and dogs under the control of uniformed law enforcement officers or licensed private patrol operators acting with in the scope of their work duties
It is recommend that restaurant owners post a sign specifying their facility is animal or dog friendly and seating is available upon request in the patio.