Florida Administrative Rules Govern Temporary Event Food Safety, Licensing

This week’s blog is by Carlos Lezcano, Statewide Training Manager, and Lisa Lambert, Training and Research Consultant, at the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.


Temporary events have always been a part of the American culture. Fairs, carnivals, athletic contests, farmers’ markets and local celebrations all have one thing in common – a variety of available foods. Food vendors range from restaurateurs trying to increase revenue and brand exposure to home cooks hoping to develop businesses around family recipes.

Florida Administrative Rules define a temporary event as any event of 30 or fewer consecutive days, advertised and recognized in the community, where food is prepared, served or sold to the general public. The statutes and the rules also specify food safety guidelines and licensure requirements food vendors must follow.

Most events take place outdoors and portable facilities and equipment are permitted. The minimum requirements include:

  • Overhead protection
  • Dustless flooring
  • Potable water for cleaning and hand washing
  • Approved cleaner and sanitizer for food-contact surfaces
  • A hand-wash facility with soap and single-use towels,
  • Equipment to maintain food hot (135°F or above) or cold (41°F or below)
  • A food thermometer
  • The means to protect food from environmental contamination

If warewashing facilities are not available on site, an adequate supply of spare preparation and serving utensils must be present to replace in-use utensils that become soiled or contaminated. All food must be stored and prepared at the temporary event or in a licensed food establishment. Food prepared or stored in private homes is strictly prohibited.

Except for specific statutory exclusions, food vendors must obtain a license prior to operating at temporary events. Event sponsors are required to notify the Division of Hotels and Restaurants at least three days prior to the start of the event. Division staff issue licenses on the event day after conducting a satisfactory inspection.

Fixed and mobile public food-service establishments with a current license from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, may operate one unit at an event without obtaining a temporary-event license. Single-event license fees are $91 for one- to three-day events and $105 for four- to 30-day events. A $456 annual license is also available and can be used to participate in multiple events.

Licensing exclusions include:

  • Events held on property regulated by Florida Department of Health, on Native American Indians sovereign land, or on church property
  • Events lasting one to three days and sponsored by a nonprofit organization
  • Food stands operated by a nonprofit organization
  • Vendors offering only ice, popcorn, whole fruits, peanuts in the shell, prepackaged items and beverages without additions or further preparation

Food vendors, including those excluded from licensing, must follow all sanitation and safety requirements to protect public health. A temporary-event brochure and checklist published by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants is available on DBPR’s website at www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/hotels-restaurants.

Read more food safety articles in FR&L Magazine’s Food Safety Edition.