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Temporary and Special Events Home


Public vs Private Events

Food Handling Requirements

Other Permits That May Be Required

Program Contact

Kyle Chan

Senior Environmental Health Inspector

(415) 252-3837

Food Safety Program: Temporary and Special Events

Structure Requirements for Special Events

Food Booths

Food boothBooths where cooking, portioning, or preparing of food occurs must be fully enclosed with walls, ceiling, and cleanable floors. Asphalt and concrete are acceptable floor surfaces for street fairs. Booths operating on grass or dirt must have plywood, tarp or similar material for floor surfaces. Walls may be constructed of plywood, canvas or fish-mesh fly screening. Construction materials must be fire resistive or flame retardant. Proof of fire resistive or flame retardant state must be available for inspection on site. Rental booths constructed as noted above may be used when approved by the Health Department and usually come with a state issued decal indicating fire safety. Food service windows should have openings no greater than eighteen (18) inches high and twenty four (24) inches wide and have tight fitting closures. For food operations with adjoining BBQ facilities, a pass-thru window or door is recommended.

All food booths shall have 4 sides, a ceiling and a floor as follows:

  • Floor - surface within a food booth shall be durable and readily cleanable. Lawn, dirt and sawdust are not approved.

  • Walls and ceilings- shall be smooth, durable and readily cleanable. Screening that is at least 16 mesh shall be acceptable wall material. Food service openings shall be constructed with tight-fitting closures to minimize the entrance of insects. Prepackaged food vendor shall have cleanable floors and overhead protection.

  • Signage - The name, address, and the telephone number of the owner, operator, permittee, or business shall be legible and clearly visible to patrons. The name shall be letters at least 3 inches high and shall have strokes at least 3/8 inches wide, and shall be of a color contrasting with the food booth. Letters and numbers for the address and telephone numbers may not be less than 1 inch in height.

Non-profit charitable booths are exempt.

Hand Washing Facilities

Hand washing

  • The hand wash station must be set up before food preparation begins.
  • Hand washing facilities, separate from utensil washing sinks shall be provided inside each booth.
  • Each hand washing facility shall be equipped with hot and cold running water, handwashing cleanser and single use sanitary towels. You are allowed to have a a 5-gallon warm water container with a turn valve dispenser, a waste water collector, hand washing cleanser and single-use towels. (See appendix A)
  • Prepackaged non-potentially hazardous food booths may share a facility (up to four booths) if the facilities are centrally located are adjacent to the sharing facilities.
  • Food handlers must be able to wash their hands as often as needed and should always wash their hands after smoking, using the toilet or returning from breaks.
  • Provide a five (5) gallon water container with a dispensing valve to leave hands free for washing, a waste-water container, liquid soap dispenser and single service paper towels for hand washing in or near the food booth. Be sure that the hand wash station is in an accessible area, free of clutter. See the diagram below of an approved hand wash station.

Utensil Washing Facilities

Utensil washing

  • A stainless steel utensil washing sink with at least three compartments with two integrally installed stainless steel drainboards shall be provided at each booth.
  • The sink compartments and drainboards shall be large enough to accommodate the largest utensil or piece of equipment to be cleaned in the sink.
  • The sink shall be provided with hot and cold running water from a mixing valve. SF Environmental Health will allow two 5-gallon containers for cleaning of utensils: one container with soap and water, one with sanitizer and water.

Water Supply and Liquid Waste
  • Potable water supply shall come from an approved source and protected by back flow or back siphonage device.
  • Each food booth shall be provided with at least 20 gallons of potable water per day for utensil washing and hand washing. Liquid waste shall be disposed into an approved sewage system or a holding tank but NOT into the ground

  • At least one toilet facility for each 15 employees shall be provided within 200 feet of each food booth.
  • Each toilet facility shall be equipped with hot and cold running water, hand washing cleanser and single-use sanitary towels in a permanently installed dispensers.
  • Booths that handle only prepackaged foods may provide cold water with germicidal soap in lieu of hot and cold running water at the hand washing facilities.

Garbage and Refuse
  • Garbage and refuse shall be stored in leakproof containers to minimize odors and insect attractants.
  • We recommend the use of plastic bags in each booth.
  • Wastes must be disposed in a manner approved by the this Department.

  • Open-air barbecue facilities is permissible outside of the food booth.
  • All other cooking equipment unless required by the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) must be inside the booth. Perimeter fencing shall be provided around cooking areas to prevent public entry.
  • Disposal of coals and ashes must meet SFFD regulations.

Food-Contact Surfaces and Equipment Standards
  • All food contact surfaces shall be smooth, nonabsorbent and easily cleanable.
  • Food related and utensil related equipment used for service shall be approved by this Department
  • Tongs, disposable plastic gloves or single-use disposable tissue shall be used whenever practical.
  • Food condiments shall be protected from contamination and, where available for customer self-service, be pre-packaged or available only from approved dispensing devices.
  • All foods, utensils and related items shall be displayed, stored and served as to protect from contamination these items must be stored at least 6 inches above the floor. During hours of in operation all food shall be stored in an approved facility.
  • An accurate easily readable metal probe thermometer suitable for measuring temperature of food shall be readily available.
  • Adequate shatterproof lighting shall be provided.

Employee Personal-Effects Storage
  • An area separate from food preparation, utensil washing, and food storage areas shall be provided for the storage of employee clothing or other personal effects.
  • Adequate janitorial facilities shall be provided for the cleaning of the food booth, restrooms, and all shared utensil washing and hand washing facilities.
  • Janitorial facilities shall be provided with hot and cold running water from a mixing valve. This Department may allow janitorial facilities other than those required by this section when it deems that the alternate facilities are adequate.
  • Live animals, birds, and fowl may not be kept or allowed within 20 feet of any area where food is stored or held for sale.