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Getting a Food Safety License for an Event

Cess Padilla

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Cess Padilla | November 6, 2013 | 1

Getting a Food Safety License for an Event

We’re expecting a lot of activities like charities, fundraisers, concerts and parties coming up this merry month of November, and for sure, some of you will even take part of them—either as a supplier or food or alcohol server. And in case you happen to be a supplier, or interested of becoming one for a certain event, you should know that you have to get a license in order to legally provide food services. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can get your temporary food safety permit:

Check with your local health department or food authority’s website on the conditions and requirements of setting up a temporary food facility or food truck at an event. As with getting any other food safety permit, requirements vary per jurisdiction, so you should always refer to your local health department or area’s governing food authority for the list of requirements. (Guidelines for different types of temporary food vendors can be downloaded from your local health department’s website.) A separate alcohol permit applies for temporary events and you have to seek your local liquor authority’s advice on how to obtain it.

Decide on the menu. It’s best to decide on the food items and beverages that you plan on selling/serving at the event before applying for a permit. Some food items need to be inspected and approved separately. Chester County Pennsylvania, for example, states that food and drinks made at the temporary food facility have to be inspected by the local department and approved for food preparation and consumption. The only item that can be made off-site and pre-packed are baked goods, on the condition that, it has been made for a non-profit event. Temporary food facilities that do not have to be regulated include those that sell or serve cotton candy, pop corn, ice cream, candies, bottled beverages, and nuts.

Furnish/satisfy the requirements. Typically, temporary food licenses are granted to food facilities with at least one food handlers card holder. But please take note: just because you, the establishment owner, is certified doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and set up your temporary food facility at the event. You would have to register with the events organizer to be able to apply for a temporary food license. You may also have to obtain another license for another food facility location—especially if the location is quite far—for the same event. Check out Marion County’s FAQs on Temporary Events to have an idea of the requirements that you need to accomplish as a food vendor at a temporary event.

Fill up the form. Make sure you’re ready to provide all the information needed before you even take hold of the application form. You have to fill in the department on the name of the person in charge, your business name, the name of your food facility at the event or booth, and the event details. Salt Lake County Health Department’s temporary food establishment application form is a perfect example of a temporary food license application form.

And you’re done! Just a couple of things before we let you go… make sure that you have a working sink for hand washing, like the one pictured in Marion County’s FAQs, so that your local health department won’t issue a Cease and Desist order on you. Yes, the local food authority can close you down on the day of the event and revoke your temporary food license just like that. So make sure that you’re complying with food safety rules at all times because inspectors can show up when you least expect them. Salt Lake Valley’s Food Safety Guidelines for Temporary Events provides general safety tips that temporary food vendors can apply during their operations at a temporary event.

Temporary licenses are valid for no more than 14 days in most states. You should be able to obtain your license at least ten days before the temporary event.

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