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Temporary Food Service Guide


This guide will provide you with information on how to operate a Temporary Food Service and provide a safe product to your customers. This Guide is not meant as a replacement for the Alaska Food Code, 18 AAC 31. For additional food safety requirements, please review the Alaska Food Code 18 AAC 31.

For questions and additional information consult with your local Environmental Health Officer.

Please check with your local city/municipality as they may have other requirements for setting up a Temporary Food Service.

A temporary food establishment is any type of food service that is kept at one location for no more than:

  • 21 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event; or
  • operates at the same location no more than two days in any one week for not more than 120 days.

Food vendors selling to the public, unless they fall under a qualifying exemption, must be permitted prior to operation.

All foods must be prepared on site, at an approved commissary, or purchased from an approved source. Home-prepared foods may not be served to the public (this includes foods produced under the Cottage Food Exemptions).

Table of Contents

Who Should Get a Temporary Food Permit?

Individuals or groups planning to provide food at an event must first obtain a temporary food permit prior to service. The Alaska Food code (18 AAC 31) requires that each booth or vendor have its own separate permit.

There are five types of temporary food establishments. The type of establishment is determined by the duration of the event.

Type Description
1 Day Event Permits are valid for 1 day.
Example: Scottish Highland Games
2-3 Day Event Permits are valid for 2-3 days.
Example: Weekend holiday bazaar or festival
4-7 Day Event Permits are valid for 4-7 days.
Example: Kodiak Crab Festival
8-28 Day Event Permits are valid for a 8-28 days.
Example: Alaska State Fair
120 Day Event Permits are valid in the same location, no more than 2 days in any week, for no more than 120 days total.
Example: Vendor at a farmer's market

How Do I Get a Temporary Food Permit?

To obtain a temporary food service permit, first fill out the Application for Temporary Food Service Permit. Submit the application, menu, and any applicable fees to your local Environmental Health Officer. If your organization is claiming fee exemption under the 501 (c) (3), documentation of tax exempt status is required.

Once the Environmental Health Officer has reviewed your application and menu your permit will be emailed, mailed, or given to you at the event during a pre-operational inspection.

Are There Foods That Do Not Require a Temporary Food Permit?

There are beverages and foods that can be sold at temporary events that do not require a temporary food permit. If you are selling a product listed as exempt (listed below) with another product that is not exempt, then a temporary food service permit will be required. Products that are exempt include:


  • Caramel apples
  • Chocolate covered precooked bacon
  • Cotton candy
  • Elephant ears
  • Fry bread
  • Popcorn (plain, cheese, caramel, etc)
  • Prepackaged ice cream novelties


  • Coffee
  • Iced Tea
  • Lemonade (including fresh squeezed)

Additionally, a temporary food service permit may not be required if the event lasts one day or less and the foods served:

  • are pre-cooked, packaged, ready to eat, or commercially processed; and
  • require no more than limited preparation, such as reheating and minimal handling.

An excellent example of this would be a one day event where the operator is reheating hot dogs on the BBQ.

Handwashing Facilities

Handwash Station Setup

Set up the handwashing facility first! This must be done prior to handling food and utensils.

Handwashing facilities must have warm running water, dispensed soap, paper towels, and waste basket. If plumbing is not available at the temporary food service, a temporary handwash station may be set up. Fill a two gallon container (which has a faucet type spout) with warm water and provide a catch basin for the wastewater.

Handwashing is very important when working with food and drinks. Handwashing removes microorganisms that are known to cause illness. Food workers need to wash hands after touching face or hair, changing tasks, after handling raw meats, between glove changes, and anytime hands may have been contaminated. (18 AAC 31.525)


All food must be wholesome and free of spoilage, microorganisms, toxic chemicals, and other harmful substances that can make people sick. All food products must be prepared, stored, handled, or displayed so that it is safe for people to eat.


All food sold as part of the Temporary Food Permit must be either prepared on site at the event, at an approved commissary, or purchased from an approved source.

If you will be selling foods prepared under the Cottage Food Exemptions in addition to the food products sold under your Temporary Food Permit, the products must be separated and appropriately labeled.

For more information on Cottage Foods please visit the ADEC's Cottage Food page.


All foods must be prepared on site at the temporary food service unless the department approves prior preparation at a permitted or approved kitchen. A signed agreement with the owner of the permitted/approved kitchen must be submitted with your application. The letter must include the type of food and the date and time the food will be prepared.

If the kitchen is an approved kitchen (such as a church or community center kitchen) include a floor plan and list of equipment available on site at the approved kitchen.


Hot and Cold Holding

  • Potentially hazardous food must be kept cold at 41°F or below or kept hot at 135°F or hotter. Temperatures between 41°F and 135°F allow for rapid growth of bacteria that can make people sick.


  • Cook raw animal products to the following temperatures:
    • Poultry, stuffed meats, and stuffed pasta, 165°F.
    • Ground meat (beef or pork), 155°F
    • Beef, pork, eggs, and fish, 145°F.


  • All potentially hazardous foods that have been cooked and cooled must be reheated to at least 165°F within two hours before being placed in hot holding.


Unless prior approval is given, cooling and reusing food prepared at a temporary food service is not allowed.

One of the more challenging aspects of being a food vendor is keeping food at the proper temperature. Be sure to keep cold foods at 41°F or below.

Many large events will have the ability to supply you with power to run mechanical refrigeration. Take advantage of this opportunity but take the following steps to ensure your product stays cold:

  • Don’t over stock the refrigerator! Sometimes vendors will try to put as much product in the refrigerator as possible. This can hinder air and make the temperature rise.
  • Place a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler. Many things can cause the temperature in your refrigerator to rise (the fridge is accidentally unplugged, circuit breakers are tripped and the power goes off, etc.). Having a visible thermometer will help you watch for problems.

Ice chests are a great option if you aren’t able to provide mechanical refrigeration and for events lasting three days or less. Consider the following when using ice chests:

  • Bring extra ice or gel packs! It is often inconvenient to find additional ice or gel packs when you are busy. Be sure to stock up beforehand so you don’t run short.
  • You still need to separate raw meat products from other foods! When packing up, be sure to keep in mind that all raw meat products must be separated from other ready to eat foods.

Employee Knowledge

Either a designated Person in Charge (PIC) or a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) must be in charge during all hours of operation. This person is responsible for knowing the food sanitation rules, procedures, and must be able to provide employees with information they need to perform their job.

For events that are four or more days, the operator must either must be a CFPM or have a Food Worker Card. Documentation of the training may be requested with the application or needs to be available for review during an inspection.

Sick Employees Must Not Work

Any person who is infected with a communicable disease or an infected wound may not work in the booth in any capacity that may contaminate food or equipment.


Employees that experience the following symptoms may not work:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)


Restrict employees from working with food if they have the following symptoms: sore throat with fever or lesion containing pus that cannot be covered with a bandage.

No Bare Hand Contact

Bare hand contact of ready to eat foods is not allowed. An operator of a temporary food service must make sure that ready to eat food is prepared without bare hand contact by using gloves, tongs, or the proper use of utensils. (18 AAC 31.220) Examples of ready to eat foods include:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables served raw;
  • bread, toast, rolls, and baked goods;
  • garnishes for plates and drinks (lettuce, parsley, lemonwedges, etc.);
  • salads and salad ingredients; and
  • cold meats and sandwiches.


A sanitizer bucket or spray bottle must be available to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. If using bleach, use the ratio of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water or 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water. If you plan to use a spray bottle, use paper towels to wipe down the surfaces. If you are using wiping cloths be sure to store them in sanitizer when they are not in use.

There are other approved sanitizers (such as quaternary ammonium). Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it is approved for use on food contact surfaces and is mixed to the proper concentration.

No matter what sanitizer you are using always check the concentration with the appropriate test strips!


A three-compartment sink or commercial dishwasher are used to wash, rinse, and sanitize all equipment and utensils. Using a three-compartment sink, wash equipment and utensils with soapy hot water, rinse with hot water, immerse in sanitizer, and air dry. Sanitizer can be made up of 50-100 ppm of chlorine (1 tsp of bleach to 1 gallon of water). Use test strips that are made for the sanitizer you are using.

Temporary food booths don’t always have the option of using a plumbed three compartment sink or commercial dishwasher. If they are not available you can use three basins, deep enough for immersion of utensils and equipment. You will also need to have a means to heat water to wash, rinse, and sanitize utensils that will be reused throughout the event.

All utensils must be washed, rinsed, sanitized and air dried.

Water Source

A temporary food establishment must be able to provide clean water for handwashing, cooking, and cleaning. All water must come from an approved source.

Water must be transported in containers that are approved for use by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), FDA, or an organization that is equivalent. The containers must be clean, used for no other purpose, and protected from contamination.


The operator of a food establishment must make sure that wastewater from the facility is discarded into a public sewer or a wastewater disposal system built and operated as required by 18 AAC 72.


Toilet facilities must be available at the event. Restroom facilities may be supplied by a port-apotty, privy, or restroom in a neighboring building. Handwashing must be available in the restroom facilities.

Garbage and Refuse

The operator of a temporary food service must provide sufficient containers inside or next to the temporary food service while the unit is operating. Containers must be easily cleanable and be covered.

Booth Construction

The booth must be set up to protect food from dust and other contaminants. Construct all countertops and food preparation surfaces with non-absorbent, easily cleanable materials. Consider how and where you will keep food safe from pests.

Walls and ceiling must be constructed of materials that will protect the interior from the weather, dust, and debris. For events lasting 4-21 days, floors must be constructed of tight wood, asphalt, or other cleanable material.

Recommended List of Supplies and Equipment

Activity Equipment Needed
  • Two gallon container with a faucet type spigot (not push button)
  • Pump handsoap
  • Paper towels
  • Catch bucket for wastewater
  • Three basins big enough to clean the largest piece of equipment
  • Dish soap
  • Approved Sanitizer (such as unscented bleach)
  • Test strips for sanitizer
  • Extra utensils (including scoops for ice)
  • Gloves, tongs, deli paper, napkins, etc. to handle ready to eat foods
Sanitizer Wipes/Spray Bottle
  • Spray bottle or bucket
  • Approved sanitizer (such as unsented bleach)
  • Test strips for sanitizer
  • A food thermometer capable of reading from 0°F to 212°F
Cold Holding
  • Refrigeration units to keep potentially hazardous foods cold (at or below 41°F)
  • Refrigerator thermometers
  • An ice chest may be used for cold holding for events lasting 3 days or less
  • Ice or gel packs
  • A cleanable garbage container with a lid
  • Plastic, cleanable totes with lids to store unused equipment and dry goods
  • Fire retardant covering or awning to protect your booth
  • Something to heat water (for handwashing and dishwashing

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