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Temporary Food Establishment Licenses

What is a Temporary Food Establishment?

Temporary Food Service Establishment

A "Temporary Food Establishment" means a food establishment which operates at a fixed location for a temporary period not to exceed 14 consecutive days. Examples include:

  • a food booth at a fair, football game, etc.
  • a restaurant preparing food offsite
  • a private organization serving food to the public
  • a rental hall
  • a catering kitchen

Important considerations to ensure a safe event include planning your menu, estimating the number of meals you anticipate serving, as well as checking the projected weather forecast if you will be cooking or serving foods outdoors. Food safety begins when you purchase your supplies and does not end until your event concludes. No home prepared foods are allowed at temporary food events.

If you are wondering whether or not a temporary food license is required for your event, please call Washtenaw County Environmental Health at (734) 222-3800!

View our Temporary Food Vendor Training video!

How do I apply for a temporary food establishment permit?

You must submit a Temporary Food Service Application and pay any associated fees at least five (5) working days in advance of the proposed first day of operation.

This document is helpful in completing the application: Applying for and Safely Operating a Temporary Food Establishment

The following information is needed for completing the application:

  • Business establishment name
  • Owner's name and address
  • Owner's phone number
  • Location (address) of event
  • Dates of operation (permit will be valid for no more than 14 consecutive days)
  • List of foods and beverages to be offered to the public
  • List of foods and beverages prepared offsite in a licensed facility (not prepared at the temporary food establishment) and the name and address of the licensed facility
  • Time equipment will be set up and ready for inspection
  • Time food and beverages will start being served
  • Signature of applicant

Once you complete the temporary food service application and submit it with the appropriate fee to our office, our staff will review your application and contact you to set up an inspection time. This inspection time will be on the day of your event. Upon passing the inspection, your license to serve food will be issued on site. Please note that you cannot serve food until you pass your inspection and are issued your license. It is important that you are ready at your appointed inspection time. If you are not ready, or need to go to the store to purchase items such as bleach or gloves, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to be licensed for your event.

What are the requirements for operating a temporary food establishment?

If you or your organization plan to serve food to the public, some important requirements must be met. We recommend reading the following documents:


Food Source:
All food must come approved sources and/or must be prepared on site in an approved facility. Home canned and home-prepared foods are not permitted!

Person in Charge:
A Person in Charge must be present during all hours of operation. This person must be aware of food safety practices that apply to the temporary food service facility, and he/she must ensure that safe food practices are taking place at the temporary food facility.

All employees must be free from open sores and skin infections, and maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness. Employees may not smoke, eat, or use any form of tobacco while on duty or near food or food service equipment. Food may only be touched with bare hands if it will be cooked after it is touched. Food employees must wear hair restraints to effectively keep hair from contacting food, equipment, utensils, single service items, etc.

No Sick Employees:
Employees who are sick are very likely to spread disease while handling food. Therefore, employees who have diarrhea, vomiting, or who are sneezing or coughing are not permitted to work.

Ready-To-Eat Food:
Employees may not touch ready-to-eat food (food that will not be cooked any further) with their bare hands. Instead, food must be handled with gloved hands, tongs, deli tissue, etc. If employees are wearing single-use gloves, remember to change them often and wash hands in between glove changes!

Raw animal foods must be kept separate from ready-to-eat foods during storage, preparation, holding, and display. After being used for raw animals foods, utensils and equipment must be cleaned and sanitized before being used for ready-to-eat foods.

temperature danger zoneProper Holding Temperatures:

  • Cold food must be held at 41°F or below.
  • Hot food must be held at 135°F or above.

Proper Cooking Temperatures:

  • Poultry: 165°F
  • Stuffed Products: 165°F
  • Hamburger: 155°F
  • Sausage: 155°F
  • Pork: 145°F
  • Beef: 145°F
  • Fish: 145°F
  • Hot Dogs: 135°F

A metal stem thermometer must be provided to check internal temperatures of potentially hazardous hot and cold food. The thermometer must have a range of 0-220°F, and be accurate to within +/- 2°F. In addition, each cold holding unit must have a working thermometer inside it.

Equipment and Utensils:
Bacteria can live and grow on forks, knives, spatulas, spoons, and other utensils that touch food. To minimize the growth of bacteria and prevent contamination of food, utensils must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized at least every 4 hours. Use a commercial dishwasher, a 3-compartment sink, or set up three tubs to WASH items in warm soapy water, RINSE in clear water, and SANITIZE in water containing 50–100ppm chlorine (approximately one capful of bleach per gallon of water), or 200ppm quaternary ammonia. Use test strips to make sure the sanitizer is the right amount!

Important Tools and Equipment:

  • Thermometer
  • Proper refrigeration and/or hot holding units
  • Disposable gloves
  • Fresh water, soap, and paper towels
  • Chlorine or other approved sanitizer
  • Bucket for sanitizer
  • Sanitizer test strips
  • Extra utensils
  • Clean wiping cloths

Where can I get more information?

Washtenaw County
Environmental Health Division
(734) 222-3800

View our Temporary Food Vendor Training video!

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