Whether you are selling food at a carnival, a “Taste Of” event, a cultural festival, or as part of a PTA fund raiser, you will be doing the same thing, serving food to the public from a booth. There are requirements in place that must be followed in order to ensure that food is served from a food booth safely to prevent food borne illness. The purpose of this web page is to guide you through the process of obtaining the proper health permit, as well as helping you meet the various structural and operational requirements of operating a food booth.
It is advisable that you reserve a spot at each community event prior to applying for a permit.
First we’ll provide you with the definitions to a few of the terms used when discussing food booths and their requirements.
Temporary Food Facility – A food facility approved by the enforcement officer that operates at a fixed location for the duration of an approved community event or at a swap meet. From now on, a temporary food facility will be referred to as a TFF. TFF’s are also known as food booths. Vehicles can also be TFF's under certain circumstances.
Community Event – An event that is of civic, political, public, or educational nature, including state and county fairs, city festivals, circuses, and other public gathering events approved by the local enforcement agency. The city hosting the event may need to approve of it and issue a special event permit. Not all events are community events, and Environmental Health will make the final determination regarding what is and what isn't a community event. A TFF must be part of a community event and may not operate independently of a community event.
Event Coordinator – The person or organization responsible for organizing the event and for providing auxiliary facilities (i.e., 3-compartment sink, restrooms, garbage bins, etc.) that are shared by two or more TFFs.
Prepackaged Food – This describes any food that is given away or sold while it is still in its original packaging from the manufacturer. Examples include cans of soda, wrapped candy, and packaged snacks like potato chips. Whole and uncut produce is also considered prepackaged food. If beer or wine is being dispensed from a closed dispensing system (example: from a keg) then that is classified as prepackaged food as well. Any condiments must be prepackaged as well. No preparation, sampling, or portioning may go on at the event.
Open Food – Any other food service other than what is described under the definition of prepackaged food is considered open food. Food that requires any kind of cooking, preparation, portioning, sampling, etc., is considered to be open food.
Potentially Hazardous Food – A food that requires time or temperature control to limit the growth of illness causing bacteria. From now on they will be referred to as PHF. Examples of PHF include but are not limited to: raw and cooked meats, dairy products, soy products, cooked vegetables, cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, cooked beans, cooked rice, bean sprouts, cut tomatoes, and cut melons.
Before you can sell or even give away food to the public, you are required to have a valid health permit. In order to process your permit in a timely manner for the event, please submit all applications at least 2 weeks prior to the event. There are several different kinds of permits available depending on what you plan to do at your TFF, each one with different requirements. Come to our office located at 1241 E. Dyer Road, Suite 120, Santa Ana, CA 92705 to apply for a permit. To save time and make the application process as smooth as possible, be sure to download one of the information bulletins below and complete the Operation Specification and Health Permit Application forms. Remember, health permits are only good for a single event and are not transferable to other events or other vendors.
- Event Coordinator – For every community event, one person or organization, is responsible for the event and for providing facilities such as restrooms, garbage containers, potable water, hand washing facilities, and waste water disposal facilities. An event coordinator is required for any community event consisting of two or more food facilities. The event coordinator is responsible for providing a site plan that shows the locations of TFFs and auxiliary facilities within the community event and for ensuring that all vendors planning on participating in the event obtain a valid permit.
- Category I A (prepackaged food) – This permit is required for anyone proposing to sell or give away prepackaged food and/or produce. Only prepackaged sampling is permitted.
- Nonprofit Organization – If a nonprofit group (proof of nonprofit status is required) wishes to sell or give away food at a TFF, they may submit an Application for Nonprofit Organizations. The application fee for the nonprofit application is waived and an Environmental Health Specialist will not conduct an inspection at the TFF as the Nonprofit is responsible for conducting their own inspection. Examples of nonprofit TFFs include churches, schools, and city organizations.
- Single Event – A non-recurring community event.
- Recurring Event – Swap meets and Certified Farmers Markets
- Obtain a special event permit or other written approval from the city where the event will be located.
- Complete an Event Coordinator permit application and pay the required health services fee at least two weeks prior to the event. No TFF permits will be issued to vendors until an event coordinator permit application is complete!
- Provide a legible site plan that is drawn to scale. The plan must include the proposed locations and detailed descriptions of the temporary food facilities, restrooms, refuse containers, portable water faucets, waste water disposal facilities, and all shared ware washing and hand washing facilities. The site plan must be submitted to this agency at least two weeks prior to the event.
- The event coordinator or his/her designee(s) must be on site and available during booth set up and during the event itself. In addition to those duties, there are requirements that apply to the community event as a whole, and these are the responsibility of the event coordinator.
- At least one approved toilet facility for every 15 employees/food handlers shall be provided within 200 feet of each TFF. The furthest TFF should be no farther away from the restrooms than 200 feet.
- Single service soap and paper towel dispensers shall be provided at each hand wash facility. Hand wash facilities must be present when there are toilet facilities.
- All hoses transporting potable water must be food-grade quality. Garden hoses are not acceptable. This most often applies at a 3-compartment sink.
- All liquid waste must be properly disposed of (i.e., sewer system or waste water holding tank). Waste water holding tanks must be large enough to capture the total daily intake of waste water.
- A janitorial sink shall be provided on site if needed.
When there are Category II (open food) TFFs present, there are additional requirements.
- Warm (100°F) running water must be available at the hand wash facilities. If the event is to go on for longer than 3 days, the hand wash sink water must be pressurized.
- All liquid waste must be properly disposed of (i.e., sewer system or waste water holding tank). The waste water tank must be 150% the capacity of the fresh water tank.
- A 3-compartment sink with two integral metal drain boards and with hot (120°F) and cold running water shall be provided within each TFF.
- A 3-compartment sink may not be required in every booth under the following circumstances:
- A 3-compartment sink exists within 100 feet of the booth in a permitted facility owned by the same person/entity.
- A common centrally located sink may be used by no more than 8 open food (category II) TFFs. When a common sink is being shared:
- No food preparation is permitted at the common sink.
- A canopy shall be provided providing overhead protection to the common sink.
- The sink shall be located no farther than 100 feet from any of the TFFs using it.
- The sink compartments and drain boards shall be large enough to accommodate the largest utensil or piece of equipment to be cleaned in the sink.
- Each operator must display on the booth the following information:
- Facility Name (at least 3 inch high letters)
- Operator Name (at least 1 inch high letters)
- City (at least 1 inch high letters)
- State (at least 1 inch high letters)
- Zip Code (at least 1 inch high letters)
- All food storage areas are to be equipped with overhead protection.
- No live animal, bird, or fowl shall be allowed within 20 feet of the booth.
- The flooring may be asphalt, concrete, a cleanable tarp in good condition, or wood. Grass is only permitted in Prepackaged TFFs. Dirt floors are not permitted.
There are additional requirements that must be met for a Category I B (Prepackaged food booths with open sampling or beverage dispensing) TFF:
- Hand washing facilities must be provided in each booth. Hand washing facilities include warm water in an insulated container, a bucket to catch the wastewater, liquid pump soap, and single service paper towels.
There are additional requirements that must be met for a Category II (open food) TFF:
- The booth must be fully enclosed. Walls or half-walls and ceilings shall be constructed of smooth, durable, and easily cleanable materials.
- Pass-through openings shall be no larger than 216 square inches per opening. There must also be a minimum of 18 inches between pass-through openings.
- If using screening, the openings must be size at least 16-mesh per square inch.
In addition to the normal food handling requirements when running a permanent food facility, when operating a TFF, there are additional requirements regarding food storage, preparation, and cooking that must be complied with at all times.
- Each booth must have a Person-in-Charge (PIC) or a designee. The TFF permit holder is the PIC who shall be present at the TFF during all hours of operation. If the PIC needs to leave the booth momentarily, they shall designate someone else in the booth to be the PIC until they return.
- Each person working in the booth must have a valid food handler card.
- All foods shall be obtained from approved sources. No foods from or prepared in a private home shall be used, stored, or offered for sale or even given away. The only exceptions being foods from approved Cottage Food Operators.
- All food, utensils, and other related items must be stored at least six (6) inches off the ground and adequately protected from contamination while being transported, stored, prepared, displayed, and served.
- All prepackaged foods offered for sale must be properly labeled. Contact Environmental Health for questions regarding labeling requirements.
- All bulk food ingredient containers shall be covered and clearly labeled as to their contents.
- All condiments outside of the enclosed booth must be prepackaged or dispensed from approved pump, squeeze, or pour type devices.
- Potentially hazardous foods (PHF) stored on ice must be held at or below 45°F at all times. PHF held at 45°F or below for up to 12 hours in any 24 hour period are to be destroyed at the end of the operating day. If the PHF was continuously held under mechanical refrigeration at or below 41°F then it does not need to be destroyed.
- PHF kept warm must be stored at 135°F and above at all times. Any PHF held at or above 135°F for up to 12 hours in any 24 hour period are to be destroyed at the end of the operating day.
- Ice used for refrigeration purposes shall not be used for the consumption of food or beverages.
There are specific requirements that must be met for a Category I A (prepackaged food) TFF:
- Overhead protection is required and shall be made of approved materials. A full enclosure of the booth is not required.
- No open food sampling or food processing is allowed on site, including portioning.
- All foods must be prepackaged at an approved facility.
There are specific requirements that must be met for a Category I B (Prepackaged food booths with open sampling or beverage dispensing) TFF:
- Beverages may be poured from an original manufacturer’s container into a disposable cup as a single serving. Beverages may also be dispensed from a closed dispensing system.
- All foods must be prepared at an approved permitted facility.
- All foods being sampled must be stored/displayed in an approved compartment (not left open as picture above). Sneeze guards are required if inside a building.
There are specific requirements that must be met for a Category II (open food) TFF in addition to the above:
- The PIC shall have adequate knowledge of, and shall be properly trained in, food safety principles as they relate to their food facility operation.
- All foods that are going to be cooked on outdoor cooking equipment (i.e., barbeque) must be stored inside the booth. Only small quantities of food in closed containers awaiting the cooking process may be allowed outdoors.
- All food preparation must take place within the booth.
- Foods may be either served from the cooking equipment or from the pass-through window.
- Cooked foods may not be stored outside the booth or on the outdoor cooking equipment. Once foods have been cooked, they must be served or brought back inside the booth.
Onsite Inspection/Self Inspection Checklist
The Health Services Fees for this fiscal year are:
|Type of Permit ||Single Event ||Recurring Event |
Category I A & B (prepackaged food)
Category II (open food)
Make checks payable to OCHCA
Is there someplace that I can download these requirements as a PDF document?
Can a cart or gourmet food truck ever operate at a community event as a TFF?
- Yes, but you must follow these guidelines:
Contact the supervisor responsible for the city your event will be located in for additional information, questions, or to schedule an appointment to submit TFF applications.