Food - Mobile, Production, Wholesale

What types of food can be sold from a cart?
The types of foods which may be sold from a cart are prepackaged foods, unpackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods and hot dogs and cappuccino.
Can I cook from a cart?
Unless specifically exempted, cooking is prohibited from carts. Exceptions include the popping of popcorn and the frying of churros. Please note that hot dog preparation is limited to the warming of precooked products.
What is the difference between a mobile food preparation unit and a cart?
A mobile food preparation unit is an occupied vehicle from which food is prepared. A cart is a vehicle which is limited to certain types of food handling and is usually operated by an employee standing on the ground adjacent to the vehicle.
Can I store my cart where I operate?
You may store your cart where you operate if you utilize a mobile support unit. In order to have a mobile support unit, you will be required to submit plans. The mobile support unit will be used to remove all food, utensils, water, waste water and other food contact surfaces and transport these items to an approved commissary for storage, cleaning or sanitation. Otherwise, the entire cart must be returned back to the commissary at the end of each operating day for storage, servicing and cleaning.
When I get my permit, do you restrict where I can operate?
No. Your health permit does not restrict where you can operate, however, you should check with local city zoning requirements. Some cities prohibit the operation of carts, ice cream trucks or other vehicles.
Where can I find a commissary?
The Environmental Health Division will provide, upon request, a list of approved commissary facilities in Orange County.
What are the requirements for building a cart or mobile food preparation unit?
If the vehicle is a custom design never seen by the Environmental Health Division, a plan submittal may be required. A construction guide is available which lists the structural requirements for carts and mobile food preparation units.
Do I need a health permit from the County of Orange Wholesale Food Program?
Any food facility intending to sell, process, manufacture, repackage, store or distribute food for commercial purposes needs an Orange County wholesale permit prior to beginning operation.
Am I exempt from an Orange County health permit if I am registered with the California Food and Drug Branch, Processed Food Registration Program?
No, a health permit from the County of Orange shall be obtained in conjunction with other licenses, registrations, or certificates from other agencies. However, you are not required to have a County of Orange health permit if your activities include only one or more of the following food processing activities: bottling of water; pet food processing; oyster, clam, and mussel handling/processing; olive oil processing; food supplements (i.e. vitamins); and low-acid food canning.

In addition, a County of Orange health permit is not needed if your activities only consist of processing milk and dairy products under a valid license issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
How can I get a permit to manufacture, process, store and/or distribute food products at the wholesale level in Orange County?

Before beginning a wholesale food operation, including remodeling or any construction work, contact a County of Orange wholesale program representative to guide you through the permitting process.

Detailed plans must be submitted and approved prior to the start of any new construction or remodeling. Plans may also be required when taking over an existing food facility. Click here to download the wholesale construction guidelines and plan check fees. Plans may be submitted weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 1241 E Dyer Road, Santa Ana. Please allow about two months for the initial plan review process. A health permit is issued once it is verified the facility is built according to the approved plans. Annual health permit fees are based on the facility size. See the permit fees schedule.

Can I store or manufacture food at home?
In limited circumstances, preparing food from your home for sale to the public is allowed.  For information, go to www.ocfoodinfo.com/cottage.  Additionally, prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods may be sold, given away, or handled in a private home when the local jurisdiction allows it.  If your city does allows it, please contact us at 714-433-6000 for more information.
Is there a less expensive way to manufacturer food?
A co-packer (a permitted manufacturer who will produce a product according to your specifications) can be used. You may locate and use a food facility that already has a valid Orange County health permit. Contact a wholesale program representative before beginning to manufacture your product through a co-packer or other approved food facility.
What if I have meat and poultry products?
In addition to a valid license issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, you will need to obtain a health permit from the County of Orange.
What do I need to do if I want to start a food vending machine business?
You must obtain a health permit for vending machines dispensing products such as coffee, sandwiches, ice cream, dairy items, etc. You will need to provide a current list of vending machine locations. Contact a representative of this agency’s wholesale program to assist you in obtaining a vending machine permit.
Can I store my food products for the vending machines at home or private residential location?
No, you cannot store and/or distribute food products from a private residence. Food products shall be stored at an approved location which has a valid health permit.
Do I need other permits or licenses?
Yes, you may need other licenses and/or permits for wholesale food operations. For assistance you can contact an Orange County wholesale program representative. You may also contact your local agencies. Please refer to the wholesale food processing links for more information.
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