Mobile Food/Food Trucks

​Frequently Asked Questions


A mobile food facility (MFF) is a truck, trailer, cart, push cart or other vehicle that meets California Retail Food Code (CRFC) requirements and operates in conjunction with an approved commissary or other permitted food facility.

Types of activities conducted on a MFF include: 

i. Food preparation
ii. Assembly
iii. Portioning
iv. Dispensing of food items
v. Temperature controlled holding of prepared foods
vi. Storage of food and equipment
vii. And retail sales directly to the consumer​

Potentially hazardous food (PHF) is a food that requires time or temperature control to limit the growth of micro-organisms and the formation of toxins.​​​

Examples:

i. raw or cooked meats
ii. animal product such as eggs and milk
iii. plant based food that has been heat treated/cooked
iv. raw seed sprouts
v. cut melons
vi. cut tomatoes

Non potentially hazardous food (nonPHF) is a food that does not support the rapid and progressive growth of micro-organisms or the formation of toxins that may cause FOOD infections or FOOD intoxications, or the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum.​​​​

Examples:

i. Uncooked vegetables (excluding cut tomatoes, cut melons and raw seed sprouts).
ii. A food with a water activity of .85 or less.

1. Beef jerky
2. Chicharrones

iii. A food with a pH level of 4.6 or below when measured at 75F.
iv. An air-cooled, hard-boiled EGG with shell intact or a raw shell egg that has been pasteurized to destroy all viable salmonellae.
v. A food in an unopened, hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of nonrefrigerated storage and distribution.

Yes. CRFC Section 114381 states that a MFF shall not be open for business in California without a valid permit.

Category A

i. A vehicle that sells prepackaged food only. Whole uncut produce and whole fish are considered prepackaged.
ii. Including frozen PHF.  Refrigerated PHF are not allowed with exception to whole fish and aquatic invertebrates on ice.
iii. Examples:
iv. Whole uncut produce, ice cream bars, whole fish, frozen prepackaged meat, candy, bottled beverages, nonPHF fruit cups (prepared and packaged at an approved commissary).​

Category B

i. A vehicle that sells food limited to prepackaged PHF, prepackaged nonPHF, and dispensing of nonPHF (e.g. open pastries). No cutting or slicing allowed on the MFF. Foods that requires no preparation other than heating, popping, baking, shaving of ice, portioning, and/or dispensing of nonPHF items, and preparing beverages for immediate service of non-frozen milk products.
ii. Reheating of PHF is not allowed, except for steamed or boiled hot dogs and tamales in their original inedible wrapper.
iii. Hot holding roasted corn on the cob, steamed or boiled hot dogs, and tamales in the original inedible wrapper.
iv. Baking or frying products to a nonPHF form such as churros and donuts.
v. Hot holding of prepackaged PHF prepared in a commercial kitchen or from an approved source is allowed.
vi. Examples:
vii. Hot dogs, churros, tamales, coffee, coffee-based beverages, blending smoothies (no frozen milk products such as ice cream), dispensing beverage drinks, snow cones and shaved Ice, prepackaged fruit cups prepared and packaged at an approved commissary, portioning/serving popcorn.

Category C

i. A stationary vehicle that sells food with the same limitations as a Category B MFF.
ii. The Category C MFF utilizes an onsite commissary not previously permitted by Sacramento County Environmental Health. May require onsite commissary to go through plan review.

Category D

i. A vehicle that sells non-prepackaged PHF that is cooked and prepared on the MFF.
ii. Must be fully enclosed.
iii. Examples: 
iv. Hot lunch truck, taco truck, mobile kitchens, scooping of ice cream, dispensing soft serve ice cream, cutting or slicing fruit.

Complete and submit an Application for Permit to Operate, along with a Commissary Form, Route Sheet, and a Restroom Verification Form.

i. Environmental Management Department office located at 11080 White Rock Rd, Ste 200, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
ii. Online payments can be made at https://emdpayments.saccounty.gov
iii. Application forms and proof of online payment can be submitted by email to EMD-EHAdminsupport@saccounty.gov​ for processing. Be sure to include your business name in the subject line of the email.

Important: Route Sheet and Restroom Verification forms must be submitted for Category D MFF.  A Restroom Verification Form is required for each location where the MFF will operate for longer than one hour.

All MFF permits in Sacramento County expire on December 31st of each calendar year.​​​​​

No. ​Each county requires their own MFF permit.​​​​

Plans must be submitted for review if a Category D MFF is not currently permitted or has not been previously permitted in any County in California.

If you are planning to build a MFF, please consult with a professional builder or manufacturer that is knowledgeable of CRFC and California Department Housing and Community Development (HCD) requirements.

Importamt:  HCD insignia does not meet the County Health Permit requirement to exempt the MFF from Plan Review.

A fine up to three times the cost of permit fee, and/or other administrative actions CRFC, Section 114387.​​​​

No.  All permits are non-transferable.​​​​​​​​

A commissary is a facility approved by this department to provide required services for MFF, mobile support units, or vending machines. 

At the commissary, food items are stored, prepared, and/or packaged, utensils and equipment is cleaned and sanitized, potable water is obtained, liquid waste and refuse are properly disposed.​​​

Yes. A commissary is required for all Category B and Category D MFF and Category A MFF that portion their own ready to eat nonPHF food or beverages must use a permitted, commercial kitchen.  

Category A MFF that sell prepackaged nonPHF and prepackaged ice cream must provide documentation that food and beverage items are from an approved source.

Yes.  Restaurants with a valid health permit may serve as a commissary if they can provide all commissary needs listed on the commissary form. A commissary evaluation by a mobile food inspector must be completed and approved for the restaurant. Extra fees may be required for this evaluation. 

Written approval from the local planning or zoning department is required for overnight parking at the restaurant. 

Overnight parking at a nearby storage yard may be approved in conjunction with a restaurant that cannot provide for overnight parking. 

Incorporated areas such as City of Sacramento, City of Folsom, and City of Elk Grove require that waste water from the mobile food facility (MFF) be discharged into a grease interceptor prior to entering the public sewer. Restaurants in these areas must be able to meet this requirement in order to be approved. Other sewer district jurisdictions may have similar or additional requirements

Yes.  An “out of county" co​​mmissary may be approved if th​e daily commute from the commissary to the operating location is practical. MFF operating only at events are assessed on a case by case basis.​​

No.  All MFF must be stored at an approved commissary with the exception of Category A MFF only selling prepackaged ice cream or prepackaged nonPHF.

No.  All food intended for service must be stored and prepared at an approved commissary or on the MFF.

No.  All MFF must report back to their commissary daily for cleaning and service with the exception when operating at a community event.

Note: An approved “single-operating site" or “stationary" MFF will only be permitted when operating on the same property as the approved commissary for the MFF. A commissary evaluation by a mobile food inspector must be completed for approval. Extra fees may be required for this evaluation.

Work with a professional builder who has knowledge of CRFC and HCD requirements. 

All MFF designed to be occupied during use/service must obtain an evaluation and approval from HCD insignia prior to obtaining a Category B or D MFF permit.​​​

HCD is a state agency that inspects and certifies MFF vehicles as “special purpose commercial modular." California Health & Safety Code section 18012.5 defines a special purpose commercial modular as“…a vehicle with or without motive power, designed and equipped for human occupancy for industrial, professional or commercial purposes…" This includes any fully enclosed MFF in which the operator occupies the vehicle to cook or prepare food for service.

Health Permit to operate will not be issued to any fully enclosed MFF that does not contain a HCD insignia​.

Here is a sample image of the HCD special purpose commercial modular insignia.​​

A sample image of the California Department Housing and Community Development (HCD) special purpose commercial modular insignia

Contact the HCD Northern California Field Office. They will have you submit the following items to schedule your inspection:

i. Form 415 (HCD415_REV07-13.pdf)
ii. A copy of current vehicle registration
​iii. Required fee​​

Northern Area office
9342 Tech Center Drive, Ste 550
Sacramento, CA 95826​

​​(800) 952-8356
(800) 735-2929 (TTY)
NAOstaff@hcd.ca.gov

All MFF must comply with all current CRFC requirements and must have a valid HCD Insignia. 

If the Category D MFF is not currently permitted or has not been previously permitted in any County in California, Sacramento County will require that plans and plan review fees be submitted - Plan Review will be required.

Contact Manufactured Housing at 916-445-3338. For a small fee they will research to see if the mobile vehicle has ever been issued the insignia. If it has, they will provide you with a duplicate insignia.​​​

All MFF handling non-prepackaged PHF must obtain one valid food safety certificate within 60 days from the time of their first inspection.​​​​

Each MFF requires its own health permit. ​Your MFF permit allows you to operate your permitted vehicle at all events.  Contact each event coordinator directly for inclusion in their permitted event.

No, unless the MFF is operating at a permitted community event only. Open-air barbecue operations are only allowed on the same premises as a permanent food facility approved for food preparation, at a temporary food facility, or a stationary MFF operating at a permitted community event​​​.

MFF operating at a single location for longer than one hour must be within 200 feet from an approved and readily available toilet and handwashing facility or as otherwise approved by the enforcement agency to ensure restroom facilities are available to facility employees.  A Restroom Verification Form must be completed.

All MFF shall have the business name or name of the operator 3" high lettering) and the city, state, and zip code (1" high lettering) permanently affixed on two sides of the vehicle.​​​​