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Temporary Events - FAQ's



Do I need a permit to sell food at a temporary event?
Yes, a permit is always required to sell food or drinks to the public

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How do I get a permit?
Contact the coordinator/organizer of the event or the Alameda County Environmental Health Department (ACEH) Special Event Program. You can also download and complete the Temporary Events Food Booth Operator Application. You must pay your appropriate fees to ACEH so that we may review your application to issue a permit.
  1. Get permission from sponsor to participate
  2. Complete and submit an application to ACEH along with the appropriate fee
  3. The application will be reviewed and if the reviewer is satisfied that all is in order a permit will be sent to you.
  4. For fee exemption, include a copy of your 501(c)(3) letter plus the County fee exemption form with your application.


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What conditions are attached to the permit?
In order to qualify for a permit, the applicant must agree to operate in accordance with all applicable state laws and such inspectional procedures as are needed to ensure compliance.

CalCode requires food to be handled and sold from a fully screened booth, unless the food is completely wrapped and remains so until sold. The booth must be equipped with facilities for washing hands, and for washing and sanitizing utensils and equipment to keep potentially hazardous foods at a safe temperature. The full list of conditions can be read in our information packet.

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My food is prepackaged; do I still need a permit?
Yes, a permit is still required. However, a fully screened booth will not be necessary, nor will hand washing and utensil washing facilities be required, unless you intend to open the packages (e.g., to give samples). Then the requirements are the same as for any other booth with open food.

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I am only selling drinks; do I still need a permit?
Yes. Beverages, whether prepackaged (bottles, cans or other) or mixed by the vendor, are considered food and a permit is required.

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I am not selling any food or drink, but I will be giving away samples. Do I need a permit?
Yes, a permit is required to give any food or drink to the public. If the samples of food/drink are open (not wrapped), a fully equipped booth is necessary.

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How can I be a vendor at a temporary event?
For any temporary event, whether it is one or several days or a recurring Farmer's Market, you must first get approval from the sponsor. After the event sponsor approves you as a vendor, you are required to submit a vendor booth application to our Department for processing.

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Can I set up a temporary food facility outside a shopping mall?
No. The temporary food facility must be in connection with a community event with a sponsor.

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How much does a permit cost?
There are several different permit fees depending on the length of the event and the type of food. Rates may vary in any given year. The most current rates will be listed on the temporary event booth operator's application. After July 1, each year, the fees may be raised to reflect increased departmental costs. Contact the Environmental Health Department for current fee rates.

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My booth is only to raise money for our club; do I still need a permit?
Yes, a permit is usually required for all food vendors. The potential risk attached to handling and selling food is the same, no matter where the proceeds go. You must also include a fee exemption form if you are a non-profit organization.

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When is a permit not required?
If all of your food is donated by a permitted food facility such as a local restaurant or a market, the booth is exempt from these requirements. This exemption falls under "The Craven Allowance" (CalCode Section 113789(c)[(3)(4)]). Problems or complaints related to the event would then be the responsibility of the recipient(s). A letter to the department specifically requesting this exemption must be approved in advance by the Director of Environmental Health. Any other pertinent documents must be submitted with the letter.

Note that the donors need to be permitted facilities - individuals cannot donate food in order to circumvent the law. No one is exempt from civil liability - you must still practice safe food handling.

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What other permits do I need?
You must obtain permission from the event coordinator. If you have heating equipment, you may also need to contact the local Fire Department. Contact California Alcoholic Beverage Control and local police for alcoholic beverages and the California Board of Equalization for sales tax payments. Your event coordinator should be able to advise you.

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What are the responsibilities of the sponsor (organizer or coordinator) of the event?
The sponsor must obtain a sponsor permit prior to the event. You can access the sponsor application on our website at TFF Sponsor application.pdf. The sponsor must ensure that all temporary food facilities comply with the Health and Safety Code, including the possession of a valid health permit by each booth operator. In addition, the sponsor is responsible for shared facilities such as toilets and wastewater, grease and garbage disposal. They should ensure that food booth operators know where to find potable water and ice.

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Will an inspector come to check my booth?
An inspector will visit all food booths, usually early in the event, to ensure food is being handled safely. However, booth operators are expected to follow the law at all times.

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Will I be fined if I make a mistake at the event?
Inspectors cannot issue fines - only a court can do that. However, the inspector will expect corrections to be made when necessary, and may close your booth temporarily until he/she considers it safe. If you have gross health violations and your issues cannot be corrected, the inspector may suspend your permit, which means you will have to close down. If necessary, the inspector will request assistance from local law enforcement. Potentially hazardous foods (PHFs) with major violations (e.g., out of temperature, etc.) will be discarded.

In extreme cases an inspector can issue a citation, which means you would have to go to court.

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Must all booths be enclosed?
The booth must have overhead protection and needs to be fully screened on all sides if you are handling open food (CalCode Section 114349). If all food is prepackaged and the packages will be sold unopened, no screening is required.

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Do I need my own hand-washing facilities - even if I am right next to the public restrooms?
Yes. A hand washing station must be set up with sufficient hot water available for the duration of the event in each booth where open foods or beverages are handled. See the following link for information and instructions on how to properly set up your TFF hand washing station Self Inspection Temporary Event Booth.pdf

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Can I cook outside the booth?
Yes. BBQ and deep fat frying must be conducted outside the booth, in an area fenced off from the public. All other cooking should be inside the booth. Always check with your local Fire Department if you will be working with open flames.

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I want to join an event this coming weekend and I live far away. Can I still get a permit?
Yes. Distance from the event is not a problem. Call the Department of Environmental Health and ask for the Special Events Coordinator. We request that you apply more than five working days prior to the event to obtain a permit. After that, late fees will apply.

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I have a hot dog cart with an annual permit to operate in Alameda County. Do I need another permit to sell at a temporary event?
No. If your annual permit is current and you are operating the cart in the same way that it was permitted, no other environmental health permits are necessary. Make sure that you have permission from the event sponsor to attend. Many events charge participants an entrance fee. No food display is allowed outside the cart except for prepackaged condiments.

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I have a hot dog cart with a permit to operate in another County. Does this permit cover me for a temporary event in Alameda County?
No. A health permit is only valid in the county where it was issued. You can obtain a temporary event health permit for Alameda County. See the fee schedule for the most current fee amount Billing.Although the City of Berkeley is in Alameda County, they have their own Environmental Health Department. Contact that city directly for information on how to obtain a separate health permit-to-operate from Berkeley.

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I want to sell products that I have canned in jars; can I sell the product at events?
First you must consult with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to satisfy their manufacturer and product requirements. If your product contains dairy, you will need to also obtain approval from the California Food and Drug Branch (CDFB). After you find a market and/or event to sell your product, you may come to ACEH for permit consideration.

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Do I need a permit to sell pre-packaged foods by Hershey's, Nestle, and other brands of candy and chips?
Yes. A hand washing station may be required depending on product handling and sampling.

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Can I sell pre-packaged food at a Farmer's Market or event with a yearly permit?
Yes. As long it the food is made from scratch in an approved commercial kitchen and does not need to be under hot holding temperatures. Food may be held in a cooler for cold holding only. We will need to determine final approval based on the type of food product to be sold. Fill out the same application as the itinerant MFFs and provide commissary/commercial kitchen information in Part D or E. Submit the application with the $150 application fee, then you will be called for a consultation appointment in our office.

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What are the permit costs for local restaurants that want to run a food booth at an event?
Fees are based on how food is sold. You may need a consultation regarding where cooking will be done, how far the restaurant is from the event, and what equipment will be required to transport the food to the event. You will need a separate temporary event health permit even if you have a restaurant near the event.

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I am organizing an event this summer. Can we have a consultation from the Department of Environmental Health at one of our meetings to explain the requirements?
The Special Events Coordinator will be happy to attend your pre-event meeting. Please make sure that you give us plenty of notice so we can find a mutually convenient date and time.

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Do I need a food safety certificate to sell food at a temporary event?
Yes. If you are selling anything but prepackaged foods without sampling, you will need at minimum a Food Handler Card (CalCode Section 113948). The person-in-charge of the TFF booth must have a Food Safety Manager's certification. All other employees must at least have Food Handler cards.

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I attend many temporary events during the year. Can I get an annual permit?
No. An annual permit is not available in Alameda County. A "Temporary Food Facility" is a food facility operating out of temporary facilities approved by the enforcement officer at a fixed location for a period of up to 90 days and the facility may not exceed 25 days of consecutive or nonconsecutive operation within the 90-day period in conjunction with a community event.

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I already have a permit for my restaurant in Alameda County. Does that permit cover me for temporary events?
No. The permit to operate a restaurant does not cover temporary events, even if it is on the street outside your facility. A temporary food facility has to be set up in a specific way and will require a separate inspection by Alameda County. Therefore, a TFF needs a separate permit. However, you may display samples of food outside your restaurant during a special event, and invite patrons to come inside to eat with no additional permit.

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Where is your office located?
We are located at 1131 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda 94502.

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Who can I call if I have a question?
All questions should first be directed to the sponsor of the event. If the sponsor is unable to help or you have additional questions, please call Environmental Health reception at (510)567-6700 and ask for the Special Events Coordinator or other temporary event staff on duty.

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Online Services
> Restaurant Inspection Results
> Mobile Food Facility Inspection Results
> Submit a Foodborne Illness Complaint

Forms
*Requires the free Adobe Reader.
> Temporary Event Booth
Pre-inspection/Self Inspection Form
(PDF - 95kb)*
> Temporary Events Food Booth Operator Application (PDF - 649kb)*
> Temporary Events Sponsor Application (PDF - 478kb)*
> Food Safety Certification 2017 Schedule and Registration: classes taught in English (PDF - 164kb)*
> Food Safety Certification 2017 Schedule and Registration: classes taught in Spanish (PDF - 308kb)*

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