The Rules Governing the Sanitation of Restaurants and Other Foodhandling Establishments, 15A NCAC 18A, section 2600, sets forth requirements for the operation of foodhandling establishments, and contains specific requirements for operation of mobile food units and push carts, in addition to the rules governing foodhandling generally. This ruleset is available at http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/ehs/rules/t15a-18a.26.pdf or at the Environmental Health Department for a nominal fee.
In section .2601, a mobile food unit is defined as “a vehicle mounted food service establishment designed to be readily moved”. A push cart is defined as “a mobile piece of equipment or vehicle which serves hot dogs or foods which have been prepared, pre-portioned, and individually pre-wrapped at a restaurant or commissary.”
These permitted units can operate year-round. They are different from temporary food service establishments, which are defined as “those food and drink establishments which operate for a period of 15 days in connection with a fair, carnival, circus, public exhibition, or other similar gathering”, although a mobile food unit or push cart can serve at such events without the issuance of a separate permit.
Prior to permitting and/or construction, an application must be submitted to this department along with the plan review fee. The drawing of the mobile food unit or pushcart must be submitted with equipment layout and specs. All equipment must be NSF or commercial. Type of interior finishes must also be included.
Pushcarts must be constructed to NSF/commercial standards and must be labeled so. Please submit the manufacture spec sheet when submitting layout of cart along with contact sheet and required plan review fee.
Overview of general requirements for mobile food units and push carts
It is the responsibility of the owner or operator to meet all building codes, zoning ordinances, fire, tax and other laws, rules and ordinances applicable to the food service operation. Nothing in these rules shall be interpreted to exempt any tattoo operation from the rules or ordinances of other agencies.
- The first and most important requirement for any mobile food unit or push cart is that it must be operated in conjunction with a permitted restaurant or commissary, and shall report at least daily to that restaurant or commissary for supplies, cleaning and servicing. The county in which the restaurant or commissary is located will issue the permit for the mobile food unit or push cart.
- The unit must be submitted for inspection to the Environmental Health Department to determine compliance with the rules.
- An agreement must be signed by the restaurant or commissary operator and the mobile food unit or push cart operator and properly notarized. This agreement will give access to the restaurant adequate to meet all requirements in the rules. Facilities in compliance with section .2600 must be provided at the restaurant or commissary for storage of all supplies. All solid waste and liquid waste must be properly disposed of at this establishment. A meeting among the restaurant owner or operator, the mobile food unit operator, and a representative from the Environmental Health Department will be arranged during which the responsibilities of each party will be explained. The agreement form will be provided by the Environmental Health representative to the parties at this meeting.
- The operator must provide to the local health department issuing the permit a list of all counties and locations where the unit will operate, and to the local health departments in all counties of operation a list of those locations within that county where the unit will operate.
- The permit for the unit shall be posted so that it is visible to the public.
The facility must be either hooked up to a public water system or well water. If the facility is connected to well water, then a water sample must be taken prior to opening.
Sewage shall be disposed of into either a proper onsite sewage system or public waste water system. If your facility has an onsite sewage system, a tank check is required to ensure that the existing system is sized properly.