Phone: (559) 600-3357 Fax: (559) 600-7629
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm
(Closed 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm)
Click on the following links to jump to that section:
- Types of Food Vehicles
- Permitting Process for Mobile Food Vendors (including Plan Check process for new construction or remodel work)
- Zoning Laws
- Unpermitted/Illegal Food Vendors
CASH PAYMENTS ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTED.
You must make payment with a credit card, debit card, or by e-check.
Types of Mobile Food Vehicles
A “food vehicle” or “vehicle” means any conveyance from which food or drinks are distributed to the consumer. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Full food preparation trucks (typically referred to as taco trucks or catering trucks)
- Full food preparation trailers (sometimes called catering wagons or concession trailers)
- Tow-behind carts
- Carts on caster wheels (limited to stationary venues like stadiums, hospitals, or indoor shopping malls that are in compliance with zoning laws for that venue)
- Push carts
- Most any other motorized or non-motorized mobile conveyance
Note: roll-off trailers are typically not considered food vehicles since they can not visit their commissary once each operating day.
A potentially hazardous food (PHF) is defined as: "...food that is in a form capable of (1) supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms that may cause food infections or food intoxications, or (2) supporting the growth or toxin production of Clostridium botulinum..." - CalCode Section 113871
Examples of potentially hazardous food are, but not limited to:
- Meat (beef, carne asada, goat, lamb, etc.)
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy (milk, cheese, eggs, cream, other milk products, etc.)
- Cooked vegetables, rice, beans, soup or other plant materials
There are two classifications of food vehicles:
1. MFF (Mobile Food Facilities)
A MFF can sell prepackaged foods and unpackaged potentially hazardous foods. Examples would include chips, candy, churros, shaved ice, bottled drinks, etc. Vehicles, food, equipment, or utensils used for retail operations may not be stored, used, prepared, or serviced at private homes. A MFF can also engage in “Limited Food Preparation.”
“Limited Food Preparation” refers to the following types of food preparation:
- Heating, frying, baking, roasting, popping, shaving of ice, blending, steaming or boiling of hot dogs, or assembly of non-prepackaged foods.
- Dispensing and portioning of non-potentially hazardous foods that do not require hot holding.
- Slicing and chopping of food on a heated cooking surface during the cooking process, not on a separate cutting board or food contact surface.
- Cooking and seasoning for immediate service only for an individual customer’s order. No advance or partial cooking allowed on the MFF.
- Preparing beverages that are for immediate service, in response to an individual consumer order, that do not contain frozen milk products (such as ice cream, gelato, or frozen yogurt).
Limited food preparation does not include any of the following and, therefore, is not allowed on a mobile food facility:
- Slicing and chopping unless it is on the heated cooking surface.
- Cooling of cooked, potentially hazardous food.
- Grinding raw ingredients or potentially hazardous food.
- Reheating of potentially hazardous foods for hot holding, except for steamed or boiled hot dogs and tamales in the original, inedible wrapper. The only foods allowed in steam tables are hot dogs and tamales.
- Hot holding of non-prepackaged, potentially hazardous food, except for roasting corn on the cob, steamed or boiled hot dogs, and tamales in the original, inedible wrapper.
- Washing of foods including produce.
- Cooking of potentially hazardous foods for later use. Most common types of mobile food facilities are open-air hot dogs and shaved ice carts. Here is a document that deals specifically with these two types of carts. Mobile Food Vehicle Guidelines 2019 - Hot Dog and Shaved Ice Carts
- Handling, manufacturing, freezing, processing, or packaging of milk, milk products, or products resembling milk products which require a Milk Products Plant License from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
2. MFPU (Mobile Food Preparation Unit)
A MFPU is a fully enclosed vehicle with cooking, hot holding, mechanical refrigeration equipment, and electrical generator. All food preparation must be done on the vehicle or at commercial kitchens permitted as commissaries. Vehicles, food, equipment, or utensils used for retail operations may NOT be stored, used, prepared, or serviced at private homes.
Outdoor cooking such as barbecues, wood-burning ovens, and vertical broilers are NOT allowed unless you are approved to operate at a community event. (See the community events section for more information.)
Here is a document that describes the requirements in more detail:
All MFPU's and MFF's must operate from a commissary. Vehicles, food, equipment, or utensils used for retail operations may NOT be stored, used, prepared, or serviced at private homes. The food vehicle must visit the commissary at least once each operating day. The commissary is where all of the following occurs:
- Park the vehicle and/or cart during non-operating hours
- Empty waste water tanks into sewer connection
- Fill fresh water tanks from potable water supply
- Clean the vehicle inside and out
- Service or maintain vehicle’s food equipment
- Obtain ice (ice for consumption must come from indoor ice machines at your commissary or to be purchased from an approved source)
- Store food and related supplies
- Supply of food products (may obtain food from approved sources only)
- Use of utensil washing facilities
- Use of food preparation facilities
See the permitting process below for details. If a MFF operator wishes to prepare potentially hazardous foods for sale on the vehicle, the operator must prepare, package, and label the food at the commissary's permitted commercial kitchen.
Permitting Process for Mobile Food Vendors
Plans: There are many details in the proper construction or remodel of a food vehicle. Costly mistakes can be made very easily. If you are building, having someone else build you a food vehicle, or remodeling / updating an existing vehicle, please contact this office prior to beginning any construction or remodeling work. Plans, operational statement, and full menu must be submitted for all new or remodeled food vehicles before construction occurs to ensure that the vehicle complies with all Health and Safety Code requirements and can be permitted. The Mobile Plan Check fee of $490 must be paid when plans are submitted.
- Plan Review Process - Mobile Food Truck/Trailer/Cart Construction
- MFPU General Construction Guidelines
- Mobile Plan Check Guidelines
- Operational Statement for Mobiles
- Menu Form
If you are planning on purchasing a food vehicle, please consider having your inspector (based on your chosen commissary) evaluate the vehicle prior to purchase. An evaluation will provide you with information about what corrections may be necessary to obtain a permit based on your proposed operation.
Permit to Operate: All mobile food vendors that operate in Fresno County must obtain a Permit to Operate and have the vehicle inspected from Fresno County Environmental Health prior to business commencement. The permit year for mobile food vendors is from April 1st to March 31st of the following year. Each mobile operator will receive a nontransferable permit to be kept on the vehicle at all times and a Vehicle Permit Approval sticker once the vehicle passes inspection. The permit includes three elements:
- The vehicle (the specific vehicle and equipment at the time the permit is issued)
- The permit holder (the person or entity who is the business owner)
- The operation (includes menu, equipment and procedure for preparing all elements of the menu, how the food is served to the consumer, and where food will be served to the consumer)
If any of these three items change, the Permit to Operate is no longer valid. Prior to changes to any of these three elements, your inspector must be notified. Contact your inspector at 559-600-3357.
To obtain a permit, please see the following requirements:
- Commissary: In order to be permitted as a MFPU or MFF, you must have a commissary. A commissary is a currently permitted food facility that is capable of, and has agreed to, let you use their facilities for the storage, servicing and cleaning of your MFPU or MFF. You will need to submit a Commissary Authorization Form completed and signed by the commissary operator and you, the vehicle operator, as documentation of this agreement. If the facility that you are interested in is not currently permitted as a commissary, then an inspection may be required to determine if the facility can support your vehicle activity needs and be permitted as a commissary. For information about currently permitted commissaries, contact the office at (559) 600-3357.
- HCD Insignia: If your vehicle is the type that you step inside of or onto to operate, then your vehicle must have an insignia from the State Department of Housing and Community Development, Division of Codes and Standards. This does not apply to pushcarts or other unoccupied vehicles. For more information, contact staff in the Riverside office at (951) 782-4420.
- Food Manager Certification: If your vehicle is a MFPU, prior to issuance of a Permit to Operate, you will need to provide documentation of your Food Manager Certification.
- California Food Handler Card: Every food handler on your vehicle must have a California Food Handler Card at the time of your inspection, or must obtain the California Food Handler Card within 30 days of being hired.
- Vehicle & Operator Identification: In addition to other items on this list, you will also need to provide your vehicle’s valid California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) registration (if applicable) and a valid Photo ID of the owner/operator.
- Operational Statement: For some new or unique businesses we may require a completed operational statement. Contact your inspector to see if this will be required of your operation. This operational statement will help you think through some details that you may not have considered and it provides a more complete picture of your operation. The better we understand your operation, the better we will be able to determine what your requirements will be and how to evaluate your vehicle.
This form was designed to encompass many different types of food vehicles, so not everything on the form is going to apply to all vehicle operations. Please include detailed information about your menu, vehicle, route information (locations where you will be selling) and operation.
- Inspection Appointment: In order to obtain a Permit to Operate, you must schedule an appointment with your inspector. The location of your commissary determines who your inspector will be. You will be required to bring your vehicle(s), fully functional and ready to operate (hot water at sinks, steam tables on and 135°F or above, mechanical refrigeration on and 41°F or below, all equipment in place, etc.) to the office for inspection, submit the above documentation, complete an Environmental Health Application and pay fees. (Master Schedule of Fees)
If your vehicle passes inspection, you will be issued a Vehicle Permit Approval sticker and you may begin operating in Fresno County. Here is a list of the main requirements for food vehicles. This list is not all-inclusive.
You must comply with zoning laws at all of the locations you choose to operate. Zoning laws typically do not allow for mobiles to set up in parking lots, street corners or empty dirt lots. Staying in one location even when you do not have customers requires proper land use entitlements. You may travel a route and stop at businesses, offices, manufacturing and construction sites stopping only as long as you have customers. Some locations that typically do not have zoning restrictions are:
- Community events
- City parks (but you must obtain authorization from the city or county parks office prior to operating)
- Amusement parks
- Inside indoor shopping Malls
For more information, please contact the zoning department with jurisdiction over the location(s) you are considering. For example: a strip mall parking lot in Fresno City, contact the City of Fresno's Zoning office.
Unpermitted/Illegal Food Vendors
To report an unpermitted food vending operation contact our office at (559) 600-3357. Be sure to provide date, time, and location where the unpermitted operation was observed as well as the business name (if available) and type of food. Other identifying characteristics such as make, model, and license plate number of vehicles associated with the unpermitted food operation, and any photos of the operation are very helpful when reporting an unpermitted food vendor, but should only be obtained if it can be done safely.