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Temporary Food Facility Definitions and Operating Requirements


The temporary food facility permit types are defined by the level of food preparation performed at the facility: moderate, minimal or minimal - prepackaged/non-potentially hazardous.

Temporary food facility operational requirements also differ based on the level of food preparation. Please meet the requirements for your level of preparation when designing and using your temporary food facility.

Extensive Preparation

This category includes most temporary food facilities that prepare or serve hot potentially hazardous food.

Extensive Preparation permits are issued to temporary food facilities that engage in sampling, cooking, packaging, portioning, assembling, processing, or hot holding of PHF.  Extensive Preparation would include the following activities:

Hot holding of potentially hazardous foods

  • Preparation of ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods that include a cooking step in its preparation
  • Thawing food
  • Cooling of cooked potentially hazardous foods
  • Reheating previously cooked potentially hazardous foods

Extensive Preparation temporary food facilities may include; barbeque operations, serving previously prepared potentially hazardous foods, pasta, tacos, paella, stir fry, cooked rice dishes, meat and/or vegetable pot pies, kebabs, pizza, sushi, poke, oysters, etc.

Moderate Preparation(Potentially Hazardous Food)


Moderate Preparation permits are issued for temporary food facilities that sell or give away unpackaged potentially hazardous foods or that conduct “limited-food preparation” as defined in the California Retail Food Code: 

  • Heating, frying, baking, roasting food for immediate service
  • Chopping or slicing of potentially hazardous foods
  • Steaming or boiling of hot dogs
  • Cooking and seasoning to order
  • Cold holding of unpackaged potentially hazardous foods
  • Scooping of ice cream
  • Blending of potentially hazardous foods

This may include heating and holding hot dogs or tamales, preparing corn dogs, preparing cold deli sandwiches, ice cream sundaes, funnel cakes, espresso drinks and smoothies.

Minimal Preparation

Minimal Preparation permits are issued for temporary food facilities that sell or give away processed food, including temporary food facilities that conduct low-risk food preparation such as coffee, snow cones, kettle corn, and lemonade. Temporary food facilities that prepare samples by cutting or portioning of food (including produce) as well as those that sell prepackaged potentially hazardous foods items such as prepackaged cheese and ice cream would also fit into this category.

Prepackaged/No Food Preparation(Non-Potentially Hazardous Food/No Sampling)

Prepackaged/No Food Preparation permits are issued for temporary food facilities that sell or give away prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous food, such as prepackaged candy, jam, olive oil, beer and wine.  Whole produce is also included in this category. Prepackaged food must be properly labeled and from an approved source.  Sampling may occur if the samples are non-potentially hazardous and are prepared ahead of time in an approved location. 

A handwash sink is required for all temporary food facilities that dispense beverages including beer and wine, as well as those booths that sample food.

Prepackaged, Bottled, or Canned Food

If you are selling or giving away prepackaged food you have prepared/manufactured, you must have a Processed Food Registration (PFR) from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In addition, if you have a shelf-stable product, such as bottled salsa, chutney or tea, you may need a cannery license from CDPH.

Contact information for these state programs is available here:

Off-Site Food Preparation or Storage

If you are preparing or storing food off-site, you will also need a commissary agreement or a cottage food operation permit or registration.