** Important Note** Operating a mobile food business is the most complicated type of permit to hold. Because their is no reciprocity between jurisdictional lines it is the responsibility of the operator to know what the local laws are in the desired location you wish to serve your foods and beverages. There are several regulatory bodies to gain approval from prior to driving to location.
- Property owner permission and restroom access agreement
- City zoning and business license (where in the city you are allowed to park and sell & any permit to do business in town)
- Fire Marshal (fire and life safety)
- Health Department (food permit)
The popularity of mobile food operations has increased in recent years and is projected to exponentially grow in coming years. They vary in size and complexity, from large mobile units to pushcarts. While they frequently operate at temporary food events, such as festivals or fairs, many seek to be permitted as year-round or seasonal food establishments.
This guidance document is designed to address the process for approval, and the unique support service requirements that need to be met in order to obtain year-round or seasonal approval as a mobile food operation. The one unique characteristic of these units is that they are not situated in a fixed location with water, sewage or electrical connections but remain mobile and transitory by design.
This section is intended to describe the review, approval of food permit and operation of a Mobile Food Unit (MFU) in the following ways:
- Describes effective processes for reviewing plans and applications for mobile food units.
- Is intended to be consistent with the recommendations of the FDA as contained in the FDA 2013 Food Code. The FDA Food Code contains requirements for safeguarding the public health and ensuring food is unadulterated and honestly presented when offered to the consumer. Terminology with respect to the word “shall” is based on the recommendations within the Food Code. The Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) – 2015 is the State Law based on the FDA 2013 Food Code.
- The District Order 2023-1 has been developed to implement and oversee the TFER in NET Health jurisdiction.
** Submitting and reviewing Mobile Food Unit (MFU) Plans **
No person, firm, or corporation shall be allowed to operate a mobile food unit (MFU) where food or beverages are served to the public without a permit or license from the local jurisdiction regulating retail food establishments. In Smith County, the local jurisdiction is NET Health. TFER 228.247.
Operators seeking approval for an MFU must submit a set of plans for review consistent with the criteria provided in TFER 228.244 (FDA 8-201.11 and 8-201.12). The plans and specifications for an MFU should include all the information necessary to demonstrate conformance with, and an understanding of, food safety provisions within the Food Code. NET Health may determine that a variance and/or a HACCP plan is necessary based on the type of proposed operation, proposed menu items processed or proposed equipment to be used, or may restrict the menu based upon the limitations of the MFU – the same as for any other food establishment operation.
Prior to giving approval to and issuing a permit for a MFU, NET Health is responsible for performing a pre-operational plan review and one or more pre-operational inspections consistent with TFER 228.246 (FDA 8-203.10). The pre-operational review provides NET Health the opportunity to discuss areas of concern with the applicant and should be conducted prior to the issuance of a permit.