Food Vendors / Temporary Food Establishments (TFE)

State Laws Enforced

North Carolina law requires that all applications for food sales at festivals and similar events be submitted to the local health department at least 15 days prior to the event. Craven County Health Department will be enforcing this requirement.

Creating a Safe Food Service Environment

A lot of time and effort is going into planning your event to make it successful. If your upcoming event will include food vendors, it is important to ensure that foods are prepared and handled safely. While keeping food safe is always important, food preparation during an event can present its own set of challenges. Many things, including water supply, wastewater disposal, trash disposal, traffic, and dust, must be planned and controlled to allow for a safe food service environment.

Application & Fees

Temporary food vendors wishing to operate in Craven County must pay the appropriate fee when submitting the application. The completed application(s) and fees must be submitted to the Craven County Health Department office no less than 15 calendar days prior to the date of the event. Applications and fees will not be collected at the festival site.

Temporary Food Service Establishments & Commissaries Defined

A temporary food service establishment is defined as a food or drink establishment which operates for a period of 21 days or less in one location, affiliated with and endorsed by a transitory fair, carnival, circus, festival, or public exhibition. Domestic yard sales and businesses such as auctions, flea markets, or farmers’ markets are not eligible for a temporary food establishment permit. In Craven County, temporary food establishments have operated at events such as MumFest, ChiliFest, the Agricultural Fair, local carnivals and the traveling circus.

Temporary food establishment commissaries are a new concept beginning September 1, 2012. It is a food establishment affiliated with a temporary food establishment that prepares food in advance or off-site. The temporary food establishment commissary permit can be valid for no more than 21 consecutive days and cannot be permitted more than 7 days prior to the event start date.

Exempt Food Vendors

A fee will not be required for those food vendors that are exempt from obtaining a TFE permit, for example, nonprofit organizations that operate no longer than two consecutive days and no more than one time each month, establishments regulated by North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and mobile food units able to operate under their current permit and able to take their unit back to their commissary daily.

This department may require proof of the organization’s nonprofit status, such as a letter or form from the Internal Revenue Service, which certifies the group as being a nonprofit organization (these forms are sometimes referred to as 501-C Nonprofit Status forms). The Health Department does not regulate food vendors that only prepare and sell items such as funnel cakes, cotton candy, candy apples, popcorn, or ice cream. We do request that event coordinators provide a list of all food vendors with their contact information to allow our office to have a complete record for each event. Please complete the Exempt and Nonprofit Food Service Application.

Event Coordinator Requirements

Please complete the Festival Event Organizer Application and return it to our office at least 30-days prior to the event to provide the following necessary details:

  • Approved sewage disposal (example: Port-a-Potty Pumper) with a signed contract, to include facilities for food service wastewater,
  • Electrical hook-ups, if needed,
  • List of all food vendors with contact information,
  • Potable water source,
  • Toilet facilities accessible to the workers,
  • Trash disposal.