Skip to content

Mobile Food Facilities

A mobile food facility (MFF) can be a cart, unenclosed vehicle, or food truck or trailer. There are limitations to the types of foods that can be prepared in each type of MFF.  Please read the following sections carefully and contact us with any questions or for clarifications. 


Carts are limited in that they are restricted to "limited food preparation" and are too small to fit a 3-compartment sink and the required water tanks.  The ONLY food services that are considered "limited prep" and do not require a 3-compartment sink are:

  • Steaming hot dogs and serving with non-potentially hazardous condiments.
  • Steaming tamales in the original inedible wrapper (prepared at the commissary).
  • Shaving ice.
  • Popping popcorn (think – movie theatre popcorn inside an enclosed case).
  • Serving non-potentially hazardous foods (bread, muffins, scones, pretzels).

Additional food items or variations on the above must be prepared inside and sold from an enclosed vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to, squeezing fresh lemonade, grilling hot dogs, adding bacon, chili, or other potentially hazardous sides to your hot dogs, assembly of food (tacos, sandwiches), coffee/espresso drinks, kettlecorn, dipping ice cream, and slicing/serving cakes or pies.

Unenclosed Vehicles

Unenclosed vehicles are typically custom built vehicles (vans, box trucks, pick-up trucks) that are NOT occupied, meaning you do not stand inside the vehicle to vend.  Food is prepared inside a protected compartment of the vehicle and served to the customer with no additional assembly or little extra handling required. These MFFs are operated much like carts but typically have more space and can hold more equipment, 3-compartment sinks, larger water tanks. They are still limited in the types of food preparation which is allowed, but can accommodate other such "limited prep" as coffee/espresso or waffles.

Food Trucks and Trailers

Food trucks and trailers can engage in full food preparation and typically involve hot holding of pre-cooked foods and may contain grills, griddles, fryers, barbecues, or pizza ovens.

Whether you wish to operate a food truck or trailer, the requirements are the same. First the vehicle MUST be certified by California Housing and Community Development (HCD) as a special purpose commercial modular (see the FAQ for more info).  Depending on the food served, the vehicle must contain most or all of the following:

  • Refrigeration at 41°F or below.
  • Steam tables or other hot holding at 135°F or above.
  • Dedicated handwash sink with soap and paper towel dispensers.
  • 3-compartment sink with dual integral drainboards.
  • 30 gallon potable water tank.
  • 45 gallon wastewater tank.
  • Minimum 4 gallon water heater (or tankless water heater capable of producing 120°F water at minimum 1gpm in all sinks).
  • Well stocked, up-to-date first aid kit.
  • Exterior signage containing the business name in minimum 3 inch high lettering & city, state, zip, and name of the permittee (yourself) in minimum 1 inch high lettering.
  • Properly mounted, up-to-date 10 B/C rated fire extinguisher.
  • Exhaust hood with fire suppression in compliance with UL300 (contact Fire Department with questions regarding this).

Please contact Environmental Health prior to making any financial investment in custom building a food truck or trailer, or purchasing one, especially from another State or County.

How to Acquire a Health Permit

To get a permit for your MFF please submit a completed application packet to this office. A Specialist will contact you with questions, concerns, or to set up a date and time for inspection of the vehicle. All initial inspections are performed at the Environmental Health office in Auburn (or at our satellite office in Tahoe City). The health permit fee is due at the time of the inspection.

Annual Permit Renewal

All permitted vehicles on inventory will be billed in March for the following year (permits expire on and fees are due by June 30th). It is the responsibility of the operator to call and arrange for an inspection prior to the permit expiration, or to cancel the renewal of the permit for the following year.

In order to obtain a new permit:

  1. The fee must be paid.
  2. An updated commissary letter must be submitted and approved.
  3. The vehicle must pass inspection.

When items 1-3 above have been completed, a new permit for the following year will be issued and the permit sticker will be applied to the vehicle in the presence of Environmental Health staff.

Passing Inspection

All MFFs must pass an annual inspection in order to be granted an annual operating permit. The annual operating permit shall be displayed on the rear or other prominent location of the vehicle in the form of a brightly colored sticker that is issued by this office.

On the day of your scheduled inspection please ensure that your vehicle is in complete operating condition:

  • Adequate volume and pressure of hot and cold water.
  • Hot water shall be at least 120°F (100°F for MFF's with only hand washing).
  • Steam tables 135°F or above.
  • Refrigerators at 41°F or below.
  • Hand wash supplies (soap and paper towels) available and accessible.
  • Sanitizer and proper test strips on the vehicle.
  • Properly mounted, up-to-date B/C rated fire extinguisher.
  • First aid kit

Individual Application Packet Forms