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Environmental Health
Food Safety Program: Temporary and Special Events

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Temporary and Special Events Home

Structure Requirements

Food Handling Requirements

Other Permits That May Be Required

Public vs Private Events

Program Contact

Kyle Chan
Senior Environmental Health Inspector

(415) 252 - 3837


Aron Wong
Senior Environmental Health Inspector

(415) 252 - 3913

Examples of Temporary and Special Events include:

Community events

Street fairs and festivals

Musical and artistic presentations

Adjunct food vendors at farmers market

Sports events

Annual national days and ethnic celebrations

Trade shows and/or product introductions at which food is sold or given away to the public;

  But do not include:

Private parties

Block parties




Booth - each booth is based on a 10’x10’ area. Hence a 20’x10’ booth equals two booths.

Cart - one cart equals one booth.

Commissary - an approved permanent food facility that holds a valid permit with the Health Department where any of the following occur: food, containers, or supplies are stored; food is prepared or prepackaged for sale or service at other locations; utensils and equipment are cleaned and sanitized; liquid and solid wastes are disposed; or potable water is obtained.

Food - any raw or processed substance, ice, beverage, including water, or ingredient to be used as food, drink, confection, or condiment for human consumption.

Food Facility - an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption at the retail level, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) An operation where food is consumed on or off the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food.
(2) Any place used in conjunction with the operations described below, including, but not limited to, storage facilities for food-related utensils, equipment, and materials.

For example: a food facility includes permanent and nonpermanent food facilities, including, but not limited to, the following: public and private school cafeterias; restricted food service facilities; licensed health care facilities; commissaries; mobile food facilities; mobile support units; temporary food facilities; vending machines; certified farmers' markets; and farm stands.

Note: Food facilities do not include nor limited to any of the following: a cooperative arrangement wherein no permanent facilities are used for storing or handling food; a private home; a church, private club, or other nonprofit association that gives or sells food to its members and guests, and not to the general public, at an event that occurs not more than three days in any 90-day period; and a for-profit entity that gives or sells food at an event that occurs not more than three days in a 90-day period for the benefit of a nonprofit association, if the for-profit entity receives no monetary benefit, other than that resulting from recognition from participating in an event.

High Hazard Booth - An operation that handles, sells or distributes potentially hazardous foods or foods in a method that has a potential high hazard of contamination. (e.g. meat, dairy, seafood, cooked starches, etc.) or (e.g. cooking, slicing, mixing, etc.)

Low hazard foods booth - An operation that handles, sells or distributes only non-potentially hazardous foods in a method that does not create a high hazard of contamination. (e.g. packaged candy bars, packaged cookies, canned sodas, etc.)

Sponsor - person or organization coordinating applications and controlling the event.

Temporary Food Facility (TFF) - a food facility approved by the Health Department that operates at a fixed location for the duration of an approved community event or at a swap meet and only as a part of the community event or swap meet.

Vendor - person or organization distributing food.


Public vs Private Events

Community Public Event

The California Retail Food Code states a Community Event means an event that is of civic, political, public, or educational nature, including state and county fairs, city festivals, circuses, and other public gathering events approved by the local enforcement agency. An event would be considered public and would require a Temporary Health Permit to Operate if the following describes the event:

  1. Event is free or a ticket/pass can be purchased by the general public.
  2. Event is advertised through media ‐ internet, newspaper, television, radio, and billboard.
  3. The general public would attend the event either by interest of the trade or advertisement of the event.

Private Event

An event would be considered private and would not require a Temporary Health Permit to Operate if the following criteria are met:

  1. Event is invitation only or held for a private club or corporation.
  2. Participates have to have eligibility to attend, such as a professional licenses or certificate for the profession (e.g. doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers).