Preparation and event day checklist for temporary food vendors

Get organized to make sure you're following food safety inside your booth.

Food booth construction

  • Clearly and legibly display the name of the facility, city, state, ZIP code, and name of the operator where visitors can easily see.
  • Write the facility name in letters that are at least 3 inches high and in a color that stands out against its background.
  • Write the city, state, and ZIP Code in letters and numbers that are at least 1 inch tall.

Equipment and setup:

  • Keep grills, barbecues, and other cooking equipment away from the public using ropes or other approved barriers. This prevents food contamination and protects visitors.
  • Make sure you have overhead protection for all food preparation, food storage, and dishwashing areas. Bring an extra umbrella or tenting if necessary to protect coolers or other tables near grill area.
  • Have enough tables or shelves to ensure all food and items that touch food stay off the ground.
  • Your booth should have floors made of concrete, asphalt, tight wood, or a similar cleanable material. If you're setting up on grass, use a tarp or some other floor material to cover the ground inside your booth.

Power requirements:

  • Calculate how much power (in Amps) you'll need for your equipment and lights. Double-check with the event organizer to make sure your booth gets the power you need.

Food handling and sanitary requirements

Source of food

Make sure any food that's sold, given away, or handed out is from an approved place (like a licensed wholesale or retail food location).


  • Make sure refrigerator trucks are working and that they keep food at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have enough ice for the whole event. Ice used to cool things down shouldn't be used in food or drinks. Keep big bags of ice raised off the ground.

Waste management

  • Make sure the event organizer provides containers for grey water (used water) and enough bins for trash and recycling.
  • Check that water used for preparing food or cleaning anything that touches food is is safe to drink (potable).


  • Check that you have access to enough toilets with hand washing stations. These stations should have warm water, liquid soap, and single-use paper towels. They should be no more than 200 feet away from where food is being sold.

Event day set up

Booth setup

Make sure your booth meets health department rules:

  • Overhead protection for all food and surfaces that touch food.
  • Disposable items for customers.
  • Store all foods and tools at least 6 inches off the ground.
  • Hold, cook, and reheat foods to the right temperatures.
  • View other facility requirements.

Hand wash station

  • Use a 5-gallon water container with a hands-free valve, liquid pump soap, disposable paper towels, and a collection bucket under the water container. View full guidelines to set up a handwashing station.
  • Do not use hand sanitizer as a substitute for hand-washing with soap. It can be used afterward.

Utensil washing station

  • Label each container and fill with clean water:
    • Soap and water
    • Rinse water
    • Sanitizing solution (1 tablespoon bleach in 1 gallon cool/warm water)

Food prep

  • Set up a sanitizing bucket for wiping cloths before starting food prep. Use the same sanitizing solution formula as listed with the utensil washing station.
  • Food handlers should be healthy, wear clean outer garments, tie back hair, and wash hands regularly with soap and warm water.
  • Don't eat in food areas and be cautious to avoid contamination.

Condiments and tools

  • Use pumps, squeeze bottles, or containers with self-closing lids.
  • Have at least one thermometer that reads from zero to 220 degrees Fahrenheit on-site and check if it's working. Calibrate thermometers monthly during the event season.
  • Use tongs, disposable gloves, or single-use tissues when touching food.

Food safety

  • Cold foods: Keep at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If held at 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the event, they must be discarded as per health guidelines at the end of the day.
  • Hot foods: Keep at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. These can be donated or discarded based on health rules and the California Retail Food Code.
  • Display food safely: Use a rear table, sneeze guards, or keep uncovered food platters at least 12 inches from the front table edge.
  • Don't reserve foods for the next day in the booth.
  • No smoking in the food areas.
  • Only serve wild mushrooms if a health department expert has said they're safe.
  • Raw oysters should be from certified beds, kept at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and stored properly. Keep shipping tag for 90 days.

End of day cleanup

  • Discontinue all cooking and food sales at the end of the event as directed by the event sponsor, the public health department, fire department, and police department.
  • Discard waste water in proper receptacle provided by event sponsor or other approved method. Do not pour waste water down the storm drain.
  • Comply with clean up requirements as directed by the event sponsor

If any of the items listed above have not been provided or historically problematic, please inform the event organizer or health inspector present during the course of the event.

Last updated October 25, 2023