FOOD SAFETY PROGRAM
Temporary Food Establishments
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For complete information regarding temporary food establishments, contact us at (509) 324-1560, ext. 2.
Temporary Food Establishment Permits
Any person wishing to serve or distribute food in Spokane County must obtain approval or a permit to operate issued by the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). A temporary food establishment (TFE) permit is required:
- When an individual or group intends to serve food to the public at a fixed location, with a fixed menu, for not more than 21 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration, such as Spokane Interstate Fair, Pigout or Hoopfest; or
- When an individual or group is operating not more than three days a week at a fixed location, with a fixed menu, in conjunction with an approved, recurring, organized event, such as a farmers market.
Exempt Foods/Lower Risk Menu Items
Under the Washington State Food Service Regulations (Chapter 246-215 WAC), certain foods may be served without obtaining a permit. However, you still must comply with other sections of the regulations in order to ensure the food is prepared and served safely, and a TFE permit application must be submitted for these foods. Other foods are completely exempt from the regulations, meaning that neither the regulations nor the permitting requirements apply. Some items listed under the exemptions can be difficult to interpret. If you think the food you plan to serve meets either exemption on this list, contact us at (509) 324-1560, ext. 2 to verify the exemption.
Exempt from Rules, Exempt from Permit (doc)
Another option to consider is to limit the food you will be serving to lower risk menu items. These menu items can be prepared and served at a lower risk of food-borne illness than some other items. Due to the lower risk, we may not need to inspect your operation, so the permit fee will be lower than if an operational inspection is required. A permit is required when serving lower risk menu items, so you must comply with the permit and facility requirements listed below.
Lower Risk Menu Items (doc)
Obtaining a TFE Permit
- Complete and return a Temporary Food Establishment Permit Application (PDF) to the Food Safety Program. The person responsible for the food service operation must be the person who applies for the permit to operate.
- Submit the appropriate permit fee to the Food Safety Program. The permit fee is based on the length of the event, types of food offered, and the preparation steps for the food served. Contact us at 324-1560, ext. 2 to determine the correct permit fee.
- If you are operating in conjunction with a commissary, a Commissary Agreement (PDF) must also be completed and submitted.
- Submit the application and fee at least 14 days in advance of the event or a penalty of 100% of the permit fee will be charged. For large events, such as the Spokane Interstate Fair, Pigout, or Hoopfest – the deadline for submitting an application is 30 days prior to the start of the event. If the application is received less than 3 days before the event, the permit may not be issued.
A food safety inspector will contact the person in charge of the TFE and conduct an interview prior to the event. The person in charge must be prepared to answer detailed questions concerning food preparation and serving steps for each menu item. In addition, the person in charge must also be prepared to discuss facility requirements, including booth location, construction, equipment, and hand washing set-ups.
General Set-up and Operational Requirements for TFEs
Are You Ready to Operate? (doc)
- The establishment/booth must have an overhead cover, walls, and a complete floor when located outdoors to protect the storage, food preparation, cooking, and serving areas from contamination. A one-piece overhead covering is strongly recommended. If it is necessary to use multiple covers, seams must be joined in a manner that prevents leakage in the event of rain. Overhead lights must have covers, light shields or shatterproof bulbs. The entire operation must be under overhead cover. If the booth is located on dirt or grass, the entire floor area (including under equipment) must be covered with a nonabsorbent, cleanable material (e.g. tarp). Carpeting, carpeted mats, cardboard and other absorbent materials are not approved floor coverings.
- A hand-washing station with at least five gallons of comfortably hot water, soap and paper towels must be provided in each booth (example: a five-gallon insulated container with free-flowing spigot, liquid soap, paper towels and a five-gallon catch bucket underneath). Additional hand-washing setup(s) may be required when handling raw meats, or with large and complex operations. A sign or poster that notifies food employees to wash their hands must be provided at hand-washing stations.
- An approved sanitizing solution for wiping cloths must be maintained during all hours of operation. To make a chlorine solution, add one teaspoon of bleach (3/4 teaspoon of ultra bleach) to one gallon of cool or lukewarm water. Test strips are required at the booth to monitor sanitizing solutions.
- All water used in the establishment must be potable and from an approved public source. Hoses used to transport potable water must be food-grade (no garden hoses).
- A metal stem thermometer with a 0-220°F range is required for checking cooking, hot-holding and cold-holding temperatures of potentially-hazardous foods (PHFs). If your menu has small or thin foods, a digital, thermocouple or thermapen thermometer is required. Thermometers must be calibrated.
- PHFs must be cold held at 41°F or less. Commercial-grade, NSF-approved, mechanical refrigeration is required for storing PHFs at events of two or more days, unless otherwise approved. Do not place refrigerators (especially insert-top preparation refrigerators) directly in the sun. An accurate thermometer must be provided in each unit.
- PHFs must be hot held at 135°F or above. Equipment must be effective at maintaining food temperatures in all weather conditions. Equipment must be tested prior to the event. Foods cannot be unattended during cooking or hot holding.
- Cooling of PHFs is not allowed at a temporary food event. Any hot held PHFs left at the end of the day must be discarded. All foods that have been previously cooked and cooled in an approved food facility must be reheated to 165°F within one hour.
- Sneeze guards are required if there will be any food preparation or storage on the front counter, or in other areas exposed to the public.
- Gloves or other barriers are required to prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
- All foods and food contact surfaces, including single-service items, must be stored off the floor.
- The person in charge must have a valid WA state food worker card available for inspection and must be present at all times during the event.
- In-use utensils used for PHFs must be stored in ice water at 41°F or less, in hot water 135°F or above, or in the food product with the handle out. In-use utensils may also be stored on a clean surface if they are washed, rinsed and sanitized at least once every four hours.
Other Agency Approvals
SRHD is not the only agency required to issue approval for food establishments. The specific agencies involved vary depending upon your location and type of operation.
Agency Resource List (doc)