Temporary Retail Food Establishment - A Temporary Retail Food Establishment is a food establishment that operates at a fixed location for a period of time not more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. Temporary events may include town celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Temporary events do not include private events that are serviced by a licensed caterer, such as private parties, weddings, or banquets. Temporary Retail Food Establishments must comply with all applicable sections of the Indiana Retail Food Establishment Sanitation Requirements 410 IAC 7-24 (PDF) (Indiana Retail Food Code).
- Get information on Farmers Market requirements, guides, and exemptions
- Operating a mobile food unit or pushcart in Porter County
Coordinators of temporary events are required to register with the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department informing us of the dates and times of the event with all food vendors listed (including not-for-profit organizations). This registration allows the Food Service Division to ensure that the food vendors participating at the event are made aware of local permitting requirements and of local and state food codes and guidelines prior to the event. We ask that the Event Coordinator complete a Temporary Event Coordinator Registration Application (PDF) and return it to the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department at least 30 days prior to an event. There is no charge for the registration. Temporary food vendors are required to obtain a temporary food vendor permit at least 7 days prior to operating at an event. It is the responsibility of the event coordinators to ensure their food vendors obtain approval from the Health Department prior to operating at their event. Any food vendors who do not comply will not be allowed to operate.
Temporary Event Food Vendor Requirements
Food vendors attending Temporary Events are required to complete a Temporary Event Food Vendor Permit Application (PDF) and return it with payment to the Food Service Division at least 7 days prior to operating at the event. The temporary food vendor permit fee is $20 per day with a maximum of $100 per scheduled event. A separate permit is required for each unit that operates at the event. The Food Service Division will not issue permits in the field. Any food vendor who attempts to sell or sample the food without a valid permit will be asked to leave the event.
For food vendors operating at multiple events throughout Porter County, we also offer a Partial Year Retail Food Establishment Permit (PDF) that is valid for six (6) consecutive months for $150, or an Annual Retail Food Establishment Permit (PDF) for $300. There may be additional requirements based on the menu prior to the approval of these permits. Please contact the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division, at 219-465-3525 option 4, for requirements of a partial year or annual food permit.
Certified Food Handler Requirements
According to Indiana Certification of Food Handler Requirements 410 IAC 7-22, at least one food handler at a food establishment must be a certified food handler. Proof of a certified food handler must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application. Some exemptions are allowed based on the menu. Exempt food items include precooked hot dogs or sausage, heating and serving pre-cooked foods, popcorn or kettle corn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, nachos with cheese, hot pretzels with sauce, nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages that are not potentially hazardous. See the Indiana State Department of Health website for more information about the certified food handler requirements and a list of entities offering training.
Commissary Definition – This means a licensed food establishment in which food, food containers, or food supplies are kept; handled; prepared; packaged, or stored; from which foods are catered, and mobile food units or pushcarts are serviced.
No food service operations are allowed in a private home or living quarters (Reference Sections 423 and 424 of the Indiana Retail Food Code).
All foods must be prepared on-site at the event or in a licensed food establishment (commissary). No home-prepared foods, home-canned foods, or foods that have been stored in a home are allowed. A temporary food vendor must have a licensed commissary for any off-site food operations, such as food preparation, storage of food and supplies, and cleaning of equipment and utensils. Proof of a commissary must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application. If the temporary food vendor does not own a licensed food establishment to operate from, then the food vendor must have a signed letter of approval or commissary agreement (PDF) from the owner of a licensed food establishment. If the temporary food vendor owns a licensed food establishment and it is located out of county or out-of-state, then a copy of the food establishment license must be provided at the time of the temporary food vendor permit application.
Note: A self-contained mobile food unit may be approved to operate without a licensed commissary. The self-contained unit is required to report to an approved servicing location for such things as sewage disposal, obtaining potable water, and cleaning the unit. Self-contained mobile food unit requirements.
Temporary Food Permit Exemptions
A temporary food permit is not required if only selling or sampling pre-made or prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous, low-risk foods and beverages – no temperature control required, and no on-site production/preparation. All foods and beverages must be obtained from approved sources. A minimum of a handwashing station (PDF) is required if portioning the pre-made or prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous food for sale or sampling at the event.
Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines
Click here to review Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines on operating at a temporary event and setup requirements (PDF). Please email Mary Evett, Coordinator of Temporary Events, or call at 219-510-6059 for temporary food permitting requirements and event setup and operation requirements and guidelines.
Printable Applications and Forms
- Temporary Event Coordinator Registration Application (PDF)
- Temporary Event Food Vendor Permit Application - Printable | Online
- Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines (PDF)
- Partial Year Food Permit Application - Printable | Online
- Annual Food Permit Application - Printable | Online
- Example Commissary Agreement (PDF)
- What is a Temporary Event?
A Temporary Event is a single community event or celebration that occurs for a period of time not longer than fourteen consecutive days. This may include town celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Temporary events do not include events serviced by licensed caterers, such as weddings, private parties, or banquets.
If you strictly want to operate at a Farmers Market, click here for details regarding Farmers Market regulatory requirements, guides and exemptions.
- Do I need a Temporary Food Vendor Permit if I currently hold a valid permit for my permanent Retail Food Establishment?
Yes, The food permit that you obtained is good for your restaurant only. Once operations occur outside the premises (not including the patio or sidewalk), a separate permit is required.
- Do I have to obtain a food permit for each event or will one permit cover me for the season or year?
You have the option to do one or the other. If you plan on only attending one event, then there is a single event food permit. If you would like to participate in multiple events there is a partial year food permit for $150 (covers 6 consecutive months) or an annual food permit for $300. There may be additional requirements based on the menu to operate under a partial year or annual food permit. Please contact the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division, at 219-465-3525 option, for requirements of a partial year or annual food permit. You could also continue to obtain single event food permits throughout the year if you are unsure of how many events you will attend.
- Do I need a Certified Food Handler Certification to sell/sample food at a temporary event?
Yes, a food establishment shall have at least one certified food handler. Some exemptions are allowed based on the menu. Exempt foods include:
- Heating or serving pre-cooked foods.
- Preparing or serving a continental breakfast such as rolls, coffee, juice, milk, and cold cereal.
- Preparing or serving nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages that are not potentially hazardous beverages or ice.
- Preparing or serving packaged or unpackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous foods, including elephant ears, funnel cakes, cotton candy, confectionaries, baked goods, popcorn, chips, and grinding coffee beans.
Information on Food Handler Certification requirements and exemptions.
- Can I prepare or store food products at home?
No, you cannot prepare or store any food products for sale or sampling at your home residence. You must have a licensed food establishment (this includes a licensed, self-contained mobile unit), use a licensed commissary, or prepare the food on site.
- What is required for a hand washing station for a temporary food vendor?
A hand washing station must consist of, at a minimum:
- Paper towels
- A container with warm running water (via spigot if sinks won't be utilized)
- A wastewater catch bucket
- A trash receptacle.
Note: A hand wash station is not required If only selling or sampling prepackaged foods or beverages.
- What is required for a temporary dishwashing station for a food vendor?
Facilities must be provided to wash, rinse, and sanitize multi-use utensils and equipment used for food preparation at the site. If any utensils or equipment are taken off-site for washing, it must be done in a licensed food establishment or commissary. An approved chemical sanitizer and the appropriate chemical test kit must be provided and used at each site. If dishwashing facilities are not provided at the temporary event, single-service cooking and dispensing utensils must be used, or extra utensils must be provided in the event that something is contaminated (dropped on the ground, etc.)
- Do I need a Temporary Food Permit if only selling or sampling prepackaged food or beverages?
Maybe. If you are selling or sampling prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods or beverages that are commercially prepared then no, you do not need a Temporary Food Permit (foods such as bottled soda, candy bars, packaged nuts, confectionaries, non-potentially hazardous baked goods, and bagged chips). If you are selling or sampling potentially hazardous prepackaged items then yes, you will need a Temporary Food Permit (such as prepackaged ice cream, wrapped tamales, bottled milk, etc.).
Contact the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department if you are unsure of whether your food would be considered potentially hazardous at 219-465-3525, Option 4.
- Does a Not-For-Profit (NFP) organization have to obtain a Temporary Food Permit?
- We are participating in a temporary event and will have more than one stand or mobile unit. Do I need more than one temporary food permit?
No, if operating stands (booth or tent) that are side by side.
Yes, if operating more than one mobile unit, or if operating more than one stand in different locations at the event.
- When should Temporary Food Permit Applications be submitted to Health Department?
Temporary food permit applications for temporary events must be submitted at least 7 days prior to set up at the event.
- I am organizing an event where I have food vendors. What do I need to do?
As an organizer of a temporary event at which food vendors participate you need to register with the Food Services Division of the Porter County Health Department informing us of the dates and times of the event with all food vendors listed (including not-for-profit organizations). Event Coordinator applications and a final list of food vendors must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the event.