What is the Food Handler class?

The Food Handler class is a certification required by all Illinois food establishment employees that handle food (ie: cooks, waiters/waitresses). The class goes over major safe food practices and is good for 3 years. Cost and duration range depending on where you take the class. The Mason County Health Department offers the Food Handler Certification, and it is offered online. Please follow this link for a list of approved online courses: Food Handler Training Certificate Program

What is the Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate (FSSMC)?

The FSSMC requires students to attend an 8 hour class with an exam to follow. Whether or not employees are required to have this certification depends on the needs of the food establishment in which they are employed. The FSSMC is good for 5 years. The Mason County Health Department currently does not offer this class. Several other health departments and companies offer the FSSMC class. For more information on where you can take the class, please don’t hesitate to contact MCHD.

What is a Temporary Food Permit and when is it required for me to get one?

A Temporary Food Permit is a permit that is good for a maximum of 14 days. It allows for groups to cook potentially hazardous food at an event. A Temporary Food Permit is required whenever the public is going to be served food. Closed events (invitation only) do not require a temporary food permit. The applications are available on our website and at the office. The fee for a non-profit organization is waived. Temporary Food Events are inspected by the Health Department whenever they exceed one day.

What are the requirements to hold a bake sale?

To hold a bake sale, a Bake Sale Registration Form needs to be filled out. Only non-potentially hazardous food items (i.e.: cookies, breads, cakes, brownies, fruit pies) can be sold at a bake sale. For detailed information on items that can and cannot be sold at a bake sale, please go to the Bake Sale section of our website or contact the MCHD. Furthermore, all food sold at a bake sale should have a label with major ingredients listed along with a list of allergens the item could contain. There is no charge to hold a bake sale.

What do I need to do to open a new Food Establishment in Mason County?

Any time a restaurant is opened, remodeled, or goes under new ownership, a Plan Review is required. A plan review packet should be completed and returned to the MCHD for review. The first page of the packet details the process of the Plan Review. It is important to submit a Plan Review Application before construction begins on any new food establishment. The goal is to have built in sanitation to ensure that food is kept safe. Part of the plan review process includes a preoperational inspection. This inspection must be done before a facility can operate. After the preoperational inspection, a food permit is issue. All food establishments operating in Mason County must have an Annual Food and Drink permit. If you have any questions contact MCHD.


Can I install my own septic system?

Yes, homeowners can install their own septic systems. If you wish to install your own septic system, please contact the MCHD to schedule a time to talk to an EH Inspector. We will provide you with a checklist for the application and inspection process, an application, a “Do it Yourself” construction guide, and a contractor list in case you need additional guidance. We will go over all setback requirements as well. Furthermore, all septic systems that are installed need to be inspected even if you are doing it yourself. After you get all the components installed contact MCHD for an inspection. After the inspection is complete, you will receive a packet with detail about your system including a drawing of the system and a copy of “The Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems”.

I need a new septic system but do not want to do it myself. Who can I contact?

The MCHD has a list of contractors that do a lot of work in Mason County. The list is not exhaustive, but it will provide you with a starting point.


How do I get my well water tested?

The MCHD offers a water well test kit for homeowners to use to test their well water supply. The water test that we offer tests for coliform bacteria and E.coli. The kit includes a sterile water bottle, a shipping label, a form to fill out and send with the sample, and an instruction sheet detailing how to take a water sample. The water samples are sent to the IDPH lab in Springfield. Samples must be sent on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday the same day they are collected to reach the lab on time. It usually takes about 7-10 business days to get results back

The IDPH lab no longer offers nitrate testing. If you wish to test your water for any other possible contaminates we have a list of private laboratories that will test drinking water.

I am selling my home and need to get the septic system and water well inspected. How do I set that up?

The MCHD offers an Environmental Loan Review for real-estate transactions. As part of the ELR, a representative of the MCHD will make a site visit to the house to inspect the water well. We will look at the well and take a water sample. The MCHD no longer does septic inspections for a real-estate transaction. If you need the septic system inspected you would need to contact a septic contractor. For a list of contractors contact MCHD. If you would like to schedule an ELR, please complete the ELR application and submit with the appropriate fee.

Vector Control

Does the Mason County Health Department collect dead birds for West Nile Virus testing?

Yes, the MCHD collects dead birds to test for West Nile Virus during the summer months through October. If you find a dead bird, please contact the MCHD and we will come pick it up. Our website has a list of requirements that a dead bird has to meet in order to be eligible for collection. The two major requirements are that it appears to have died from natural causes (not killed by a cat) and is not in advanced stages of decomposition. If you submit a dead bird for testing, you will be notified if it is positive or negative for WNV when we received results.

Environmental Health

I am thinking about opening a new restaurant or buying an existing restaurant. What are the requirements?

Please contact the EH division prior to starting construction or remodeling. New or existing establishments with new ownership must complete a pre-operational plan. Some find this planning quite intensive. However, planning with your partner (MCHD) layout of your kitchen and fixture placements will likely save repeat contractor trips to bring your kitchen up to code. Although this planning is required, it will save you money and headaches in the long run.

I found a dead bird. What do I do?

Please Call the EH department but first follow the guidelines established by the Illinois Department of Public Health (click here).

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