Do Non-Permanent Food Operations2, e.g., vendors that sell food at carnivals or at farmers markets, require a permit under the Retail Food Code?
Yes. Operations that offer food at farmers markets, fairs, carnivals, celebrations, fundraisers, or restaurant food shows must have a permit.
- While some events will be organized by one manager (coordinating permitting and other issues for the event), LBOHs must issue a Temporary Food Establishment (TFE) license to each individual vendor. (105 CMR 590.008; 8-301.11)
- The license should indicate the time frame for the issued permit; in the case of Farmers Markets, this could be for the entire season.
What if there is no water supply at the Non-Permanent Operation?
If no permanent water supply is available, the vendor may access water through:
- A supply of containers of commercially bottled drinking water
- Closed portable water containers
- An enclosed vehicular water tank
- An on-premises water storage tank
- Piping, tubing, or hoses connected to an adjacent approved source. (5-104.12)
What are the restroom and handwashing requirements for Non-Permanent Operations?
If permanent restrooms and handwashing facilities are not available, portable restrooms and handwashing facilities must be provided for use by the vendors. (5-203.11; 6-402.11).
Handwashing sinks must be easily accessible (within 25 feet) to vendors handling exposed, processed foods. If handwashing sinks are not easily accessible, and food exposure is limited, the local authority may approve the use of chemically treated towelettes for handwashing.
Do Non-Permanent Operations need to store food in refrigerators?
Mechanical refrigeration is not required if food temperatures can be maintained and verified (with the exception of shellfish transportation). Foods requiring time/temperature control for safety (TCS) must be held at proper temperatures during transportation and display for sale. This can be achieved by refrigeration or by storing the food on self-draining ice in an insulated container.
Do Non-Permanent Operations need to have a Certified Food Protection Manager on staff?
A Certified Food Protection Manager is required unless:
- the vendor is a non-profit organization; or
- the food being served has been deemed by the LBOH to pose minimal risk of causing, or contributing to, foodborne illness based on the nature of the operation and extent of food preparation; or
- the vendor is serving only:
- pre-packaged food;
- a limited preparation of non-TCS food; and/or
- meat and poultry products processed under USDA supervision with a nitrite level of at least 120 PPM and a minimum brine concentration of 3.5% (Ex.: Beef Jerky) (2-102.12; 105 CMR 590.002(C))
How should food be protected at a Non-Permanent Operation?
Fresh uncut fruits and vegetables can be displayed in the open air but must be stored off the ground. Vendors often use a table, empty crates, or boxes underneath the crates holding the produce.
Processed Foods require protection while on display. Vendors may individually package items such as baked goods or, if displayed in bulk, should cover the items while on display until given to the consumer. (3-306.11; 3-301.11). Items offered in bulk should be served with a utensil, single-use glove, or single-use paper sheet.
Can raw milk or raw milk products be sold at a Non-Permanent Operation?
Raw (unpasteurized) milk is not allowed for sale at TFEs or any other Food Establishments. Raw milk is only allowed for sale in Massachusetts at farms which are certified and inspected by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR).
Aged cheeses made with raw milk may be sold, provided 1) that they are made in a licensed food manufacturing facility and 2) that vendors maintain strict temperature control of 41°F or below.
What is the difference between a Temporary Food Establishment and a Farmers Market?
A Temporary Food Establishment is a food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. (Ex. Festivals, Restaurant Trade Shows).
A Farmers Market is a public market or market place occurring more than once per year, and the primary purpose of the market is for multiple Massachusetts farmers to sell food, crops and other farm-related items.
Applicable state laws allow vendors at Farmers Markets to sell three products that may not be sold by Temporary Food Establishments: raw finfish, raw shellfish, and wine.
- Raw finfish and shellfish may be sold by a vendor at a Farmers Markets if they have proper permits from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), comply with DMF regulations, and are approved by the LBOH.
- Licensed farm-wineries may sell wine at events that are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) as “Agricultural Events.” The event must be certified by MDAR and the vendor must have a license from the local liquor/license control board.