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Temporary Food Service Establishments FAQ

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As of July 1, 2014, the Calvert County Health Department will require that all application packets for temporary event food service vendors be submitted at least 10 calendar days prior to the start date of the event.

Incomplete application packets will not be accepted. Failure to submit a completed application packet at least 10 days prior to the start date of the event may result in the denial of a permit to operate. Without a valid permit to operate, the vendor will not be able to serve food at the event.

Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Environmental Health at 410-535-3922.

What is a temporary food service facility?

A temporary food service facility operates at a fixed location for a period of time not exceeding 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event.  Events include, but are not limited to, fairs, carnivals, festivals, community dinners, and similar public gatherings.  Additionally, advertisement constitutes the event as being “public”.  Temporary food service facilities are required to comply with the Code of Maryland Regulations 10.15.03, including the submittal of HACCP plans for high and moderate priority facilities.  If you have already submitted a HACCP plan to this Department within the past five years and your menu has not changed, you do not need to resubmit your plan with each application.

Do I need a license?

Temporary food service facilities are required to be licensed in accordance with the Code of Maryland Regulations 10.15.03.  Food service facilities shall not operate without a valid license issued by the Department.  Food service licenses must be conspicuously displayed within the food service facility.

How do I obtain a license?

At least 10 days prior to the event, the food service facility must submit a completed application to the Department for licensure accompanied by the temporary event assessment and HACCP plan (if not submitted within the past 5 years).  Applications may be obtained in person at the Calvert County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health (150 Main Street, Suite 100, Prince Frederick, MD 20678, Monday through Friday from 7:30am until 4:30pm) or here:

Non-profit Temporary Food Service License Application (PDF)
Temporary Food Service License Application (PDF)

Do I need to submit a HACCP plan?

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plans must be submitted every five (5) years and for menu changes from all high and moderate priority food service facilities.  High and moderate priority facilities generally handle food removed the original manufacturer’s packaging.  Very few facilities are low priority and exempted from submitting HACCP plans.  Low priority facilities include pre-packaged ice cream trucks and the sale of commercially packaged cold held products only (i.e. packaged milk).  If you have any questions regarding your priority assessment, please contact the Calvert County Health Department, Division of Environmental Health at 410-535-3922. 

What do I need to operate a temporary food service facility?

  • The food service facility must be inspected and approved prior to commencing operation.
  • A HACCP plan must be provided to the Department 10 days in advance and onsite during food preparation.
  • The facility must be located on a clean and sanitary site.  The ground surfaces should be impervious or covered with cleanable material.  Temporary food service facilities may not be located on surfaces covered by mud, sewage, or other contaminating materials.  Food service facilities may not be located in close proximity to sewage or animal containing areas that may cause contamination.
  • All food products must be stored at a health department approved location, if purchased/picked up in advance.  Storage or preparation of food products in residences or other unapproved locations will result in denial of the permit to operate.
  • All food and ice must be from an approved source.  Approved sources include regulated grocery stores and food/ice/beverage distributors.  All shell stock must be accompanied by a shell stock tag.  This tag must remain attached to the product while in use.  Shell stock tags and egg records must be kept for a minimum of 90 days after the event.
  • Water must be from a potable source.  Food service facilities may not use water delivered through unapproved supply hoses (garden-type hoses) or from frost free hydrants.  All hoses must be for “potable water use”.
  • All food service equipment, preparation areas, service areas, dish washing areas, and food storage areas must be covered by overhead protection, such as a tent, canopy, or similar structure.  For pest control, all sides not used for direct customer service must be screened or covered.  Appropriate pest control measures must be taken by the vendor to prevent contamination of the products and equipment at all times, including at customer service sides of the tent.  Failure to maintain adequate pest control at any time will result in denial or suspension of the license to operate.
  • Food and food equipment must be stored at least 6” off of the ground surface using shelves or another approved method.
  • A stem thermometer graduated in 2 degree increments from 0° F to 200° F must be provided.  The calibration of this thermometer must be checked prior to operation.  Stem thermometers must be properly washed and sanitized between uses.
  • Potentially hazardous food products shall be maintained at or below 41°F or above 135° F at all times. Product temperatures must be checked often during operation (every 1-2 hours).
  • Adequate cold holding equipment shall be provided to maintain product temperatures at 41°F or less (38°F for pasteurized crab meat).  For single-day events and vendors with proof of daily food purchase for multiple-day events, food may be stored in clean, sanitary coolers with drain plugs using ice from an approved source.  If products are stored on ice, the ice must be kept constantly drained.  Different types of products (meats, vegetables, cooked products) may not be stored in the same cooler without adequate cross contamination control.  Products should be stored in accordance with final cooking temperatures (see attached temperature chart).  For multiple-day events, mechanical refrigeration is required to maintain products at a consistently safe temperature.  The mechanical refrigeration must have a reliable power source.
  • Adequate hot holding equipment must be provided, if hot holding products.  This may include crock pots, sternos, warming cabinets, etc.   Hot holding equipment must be able to maintain products at 135° F or greater.  Hot holding equipment may not be used for cooking and reheating products.
  • Adequate cooking equipment must be provided.  Grills should have covers and must be composed of food grade materials.  Ground cooking, such as campfires, is prohibited.
  • All products must be cooked to the proper temperatures (see attached temperature chart).
  • Exposed food products must be covered, shielded, or spaced away from general public access for sneeze protection.  All food products and equipment must be stored in approved containers.
  • All food service equipment and dispensers must be cleaned and sanitized prior to use and must protect the food products from contamination.
  • Foods, such as ice and spices, must be dispensed with scoops equipped with handles.
  • Any thawing or cooling of food products must occur under temperature controlled conditions (in a cooler or approved refrigerator).  Cooling or thawing of products onsite may be denied depending upon the equipment available, cross contamination control, and temperature control factors.
  • Food service workers must wear clean outer garments, have hair properly restrained with a hat or hair net, and wear disposable single-use gloves for handling ready to eat food items.  Smoking, eating, and drinking in food service areas is prohibited. 
  • Food service workers must not be exhibiting symptoms of illness or infection.  Individuals infected with a communicable disease, having symptoms of a communicable disease, or have open sores or cuts on their hands may not work in a food service facility.  All individuals not related to food service operations must be excluded from the food preparation areas.
  • A hand washing station must be provided.  At minimum, this includes a drink-type dispenser with a continuous running tap that can dispense running water.  The water provided for hand washing must be at least 100° F (warm) and from a potable source.  Soap, paper towels, and a catch bucket for waste water must also be provided.  Please note that hand sanitizer is not an acceptable substitution for a hand washing station. 
  • An approved sanitizer must be provided for surface sanitizing and for utensil washing.  Unscented chlorine bleach may be used at a concentration of 50-100ppm.  Quaternary ammonia products may also be used in accordance with the product specifications.  Appropriate test strips must be provided.
  • A utensil washing station must be provided consisting of three clean and sanitary bins large enough to accommodate the largest utensil or pan to be cleaned.  The wash bin must be filled with hot, potable, soapy water and warm potable water must be provided for the rinse and sanitize bin.  The station must include dish washing soap, sanitizer, and the appropriate sanitizer test strips.
  • A surface cleansing bucket and sanitizer must be provided.  Counter surfaces must be washed thoroughly with soapy water, rinsed, and wiped with a sanitizer of appropriate concentration prior to beginning operation, every 2 hours, and during changes in tasks to prevent cross contamination.  Wiping cloths must be stored in a sanitizer of appropriate concentration.  Solutions must be changed if soiled or if the sanitizer concentration is too low.
  • Food service utensils, cutting boards, and slicers must be cleaned and sanitized when soiled, between preparing different types of products, and at minimum every 2 hours during operation.
  • Waste water must be disposed of properly, including water from the hand washing station and water from the utensil washing station.  Please consult with your event coordinator for the location of the disposal site.
  • Food and food service equipment may not be stored with chemicals, such as sanitizers.  Pest control sprays may not be used in or around the food service area.
  • Restroom facilities must be accessible and located within a reasonable distance during operation.
  • Adequate garbage disposal containers, with lids, must be provided.
  • For after-dusk operation, shielded or shatter proof lighting must provide adequate illumination of the food service facility.


Pictorial examples of a ware washing station, hand washing station, and overhead protection may be provided by the Department for reference upon request.

Where else can one find additional information regarding temporary event requirements?

Temporary Event Training Presentation (PDF)

If there are additional questions after reviewing this information, please contact a Food Program Sanitarian at 410-535-3922.

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