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State of Iowa

200 E Grand, Des Moines , IA, 50309, US

Guidance for Requesting a Variance: Facility




What is a Variance?

A “Variance” is a written document issued by the Regulatory Authority that authorizes a modification or a waiver of one or more requirements of the Iowa Food Code or FDA Food Code, if in the opinion of the Regulatory Authority, a health hazard or nuisance will not result from allowing the activities detailed within the modification or waiver.

The decision to grant or deny a variance request will be based on the best available information and science submitted by the applicant or sought out by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Food and Consumer Safety Bureau at the time the decision is made.

8-103.10 Variances Modifications and Waivers

The REGULATORY AUTHORITY may grant a VARIANCE by modifying or waiving the requirements of this Code if in the opinion of the REGULATORY AUTHORITY a health HAZARD or nuisance will not result from the VARIANCE. If a VARIANCE is granted, the REGULATORY AUTHORITY shall retain the information specified under § 8-103.11 in its records for the FOOD ESTABLISHMENT.

When is a Variance Required?

A “Variance” is required, and should be requested, when the retail food establishment Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) waivers from the requirements of the Iowa Food Code or FDA Food Code as detailed in the FDA Food Code sections 8-103.11 and 8-103.12, or when the retail food establishment conducts an operation that is not addressed by the FDA Food Code as referenced in section 3-502.11.

Code 8-103.11 Documentation of Proposed Variance and Justification.

Before a VARIANCE from a requirement of this Code is APPROVED, the information that shall be provided by the PERSON requesting the VARIANCE and retained in the REGULATORY AUTHORITY'S file on the FOOD ESTABLISHMENT includes:

    (A) A statement of the proposed VARIANCE of the Code requirement citing relevant Code section numbers;

    (B) An analysis of the rationale for how the potential public health HAZARDS and nuisances addressed by the relevant Code sections will be alternatively addressed by the proposal; and

    (C) A HACCP PLAN if required as specified under ¶ 8-201.13(A) that includes the information specified under § 8-201.14 as it is relevant to the VARIANCE requested.

How does my Organization or Establishment request a Variance?

The Request for a Variance application shall be submitted to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Food and Consumer Safety Bureau.  All information on the Variance Request Form must be filled out completely and all additional required information must be submitted.  Request forms that are not filled out completely will be returned to the applicant.

481—6.5(10A,17A,ExecOrd11) Criteria for waiver or variance.

At the sole discretion of the director/board, the director/board may issue an order in response to a completed petition or on the department’s own motion, granting a waiver or variance from a rule adopted by the department, in whole or in part, as applied to the circumstances of a specified person or a specific and narrowly drawn class of persons if the director/board finds based on clear and convincing evidence that:

1. The application of the rule to the petitioner would pose an undue hardship on the person or class of persons for whom the waiver or variance is requested;

2. The waiver or variance from the requirements of a rule in the specific case would not prejudice the substantial legal rights of any person;

3. The provisions of a rule subject to a petition for a waiver or variance are not specifically mandated by statute or another provision of law; and

4. Substantially equal protection of public health, safety, and welfare will be afforded by a means other than that prescribed in the particular rule for which the waiver or variance is requested.

How long does it take to obtain an approval for a Variance request?

The variance approval process takes approximately 30 days once the request and all adequate supporting documentation is received by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.



Forms that are not filled out completely will be returned to the applicant.

Date Picker

Date Picker

New variance or Continuation of current variance

Physical Address:

Mailing Address (if different from above):

Owner Name:

Organization Contact Name:

If applying for multiple locations:

A floor plan is attached.

Type of Variance Requested: Note: If requesting a Variance for a Specialized Food Processing Method, please fill out the Variance Request Form titled “Request for a Variance- Specialized Food Process”

The applicant shall provide the following information: (as per 481-6.5(10A, 17A. ExecOrd11) Criteria for waiver or variance)

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