A Mobile Food Facility Permit, also known as a Food Truck Permit, Health Permit, or MFF Permit is a legal document issued by local health departments that allows food trucks and food trailers to operate in a specific area. Passing health inspection is typically required for any food truck business to receive its Mobile Food Facility Permit and legally serve food to the public.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what a Mobile Food Facility Permit is, why it is important, and what steps are involved in obtaining one.
What is a Mobile Food Facility Permit?
A Mobile Food Facility Permit is a permit issued by the local health department that allows a food truck or other similar mobile food establishment to operate within a specific area. The permit is a crucial component of the food truck industry, as it helps to ensure that food trucks comply with local health and safety regulations. The permit is typically issued for a specific time period and must be renewed annually or bi-annually.
Why is a Mobile Food Facility Permit important?
The Mobile Food Facility Permit is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps to ensure that food trucks and other similar mobile food establishments are operating in compliance with local health and safety regulations. This helps to protect public health and safety by ensuring that food being sold from food trucks is prepared, stored, and served in a safe and hygienic manner.
Additionally, the Mobile Food Facility Permit is also important for the food truck industry as a whole. By requiring food trucks to obtain permits, local health departments are able to track the number of food trucks operating within their jurisdiction and regulate the industry. This helps to ensure that the food truck industry has a good overall reputation for serving quality food that won’t make people sick.
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What steps are involved in getting a Mobile Food Facility Permit?
Obtaining a Mobile Food Facility Permit can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is essential for anyone who wants to start a food truck business. The following steps outline the process of obtaining a Mobile Food Facility Permit:
- Research local regulations: Before applying for a Mobile Food Facility Permit, it is important to research local health department regulations to ensure that you are aware of all the requirements that must be met in order to obtain a permit. Requirements vary wildly depending on location, so make sure to consult with a professional food truck builder to learn what’s possible.
- Obtain a business license: In order to operate a food truck business, you will need to obtain a business license from your local government. This license must be obtained before you can receive your Mobile Food Facility Permit.
- Get a food handler’s card: Many states require that the owner and/or operators of the food truck take online or in-person classes and pass a test to receive a food handler’s certification. This ensures that anyone handling food understands basic food safety so they don’t accidentally serve spoiled or contaminated food that will make customers sick. Some popular third parties that provide this service are ServSafe and eFoodHandlers.
- Sign a commissary contract: A commissary is a health department-approved space that food truck operators use for food truck storage, food storage, food preparation, cleaning, overnight power, and waste water dumping. If a food truck commissary is required for food trucks and trailers in your area, you will likely need to show proof of a signed commissary agreement prior to the health department issuing you a permit.
- Submit a plan check application: If you’re building a food truck from scratch or making changes to existing food truck, your local health department may require that engineering drawings, equipment specification sheets, menu, etc. be submitted as part of a plan check application. If so, you will need plan check approval prior to being able to schedule an in-person health inspection. Fire department approval for your propane system is sometimes required as part of this process as well.
- Modify or build your food truck: If your plan check application was approved, now is the time to build or modify your food truck to reflect the approved plans. Remember any changes you make to your truck may require another plan check and inspection so be sure to include everything the first time. Also, food trucks can be very dangerous if not built correctly, so consult a professional food truck builder instead of tackling the work yourself.
- Pass HCD inspection: In the state of California, all food trucks and trailers must also pass an additional inspection by the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) before applying for a Mobile Food Facility Permit. In this inspection, they look at things like structural integrity, emergency exits, fire suppression systems, and more to verify that the food truck or food trailer can be safely “occupied” during food service.
- Pass food truck health inspection: You will likely need to pass an in-person inspection before receiving your Mobile Food Facility Permit. The inspection is typically performed by your local Fire and/or Health Department. This inspection will be a physical check that the food truck meets all requirements, but may also include questions about food safety and business operations.
- Pay for your Mobile Food Facility Permit: Most governments charge a fee of a few hundred dollars to cover the cost of inspection. Paying this fee is the final step to receiving your Mobile Food Facility Permit! But remember, permits are typically issued for a specific time period and must be renewed regularly. Renew your permit before it expires to ensure that your food truck business continues to operate legally.
Can a food truck builder help get a Mobile Food Facility Permit?
Obviously, getting a Mobile Food Facility Permit isn’t as easy as it may have seemed initially. And passing health inspection in California is nearly impossible without the help of a reputable food truck builder.
If you’re concerned about quickly and correctly navigating the Mobile Food Facility Permit process in your town or state, seek out a reputable food truck builder like Firefly. Not all food truck manufacturers offer this service, and some say they offer it, but don’t actually deliver on their promise. To get real help and not end up with a bigger headache, it’s important to choose the right food truck builder.
A quality food truck builder will be able to explain the Mobile Food Facility Permit process and be willing to guarantee that your food truck will pass required local inspections in a written, signed contract. Also the builder should clearly define what happens if the food truck doesn’t pass inspection. Make sure to read the contract carefully for additional fees, hidden costs or loopholes.
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A Mobile Food Facility Permit helps to ensure that food trucks and other similar mobile food establishments are operating in compliance with local health and safety regulations. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your food truck business is operating legally and that you are able to serve safe and delicious food to your customers.
Because a Mobile Food Facility Permit requires renewal, it is important to stay informed about the latest developments in the food truck industry and to keep up-to-date with local health and safety regulations. This will help to ensure that your food truck business remains successful and sustainable in the long term.
Want help ensuring your food truck passes health inspection and receives a Mobile Food Facility Permit? Contact Firefly today for a free food truck consultation. Every new build is guaranteed to pass health inspection and comes with Firefly’s industry-leading 2-year, nationwide warranty.