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Construction Guide for Mobile Food Facilities

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This information is provided by the:

Orange County Health Care Agency / Regulatory Health Services / Environmental Health
1241 East Dyer Road
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Telephone (714) 433 6090

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This Construction Guide is available to any person intending to construct or remodel a Mobile food facility for use in the County of Orange. The purpose of this guide is to serve as a general overview of the requirements and may not be all-inclusive. Mobile food facility (MFF) refers to any motorized or non-motorized conveyance or portable food service unit upon which prepackaged food or approved unpackaged food is sold or offered for sale at retail. It does not include mobile support units (MSU's), mobile food preparation units or stationary mobile food preparation units. Please contact Environmental Health at the phone number listed above if you require further information regarding your particular plan.

A separate construction guide for mobile support units, mobile food preparation units and stationary mobile food preparation units is available upon request.


A. A plan check fee must be paid at the time of plan submittal. Current fee schedules are available upon request

B. A remodel is any construction or alteration to an existing food vehicle, which alters its configuration or method of operation.


A. Two sets of plans shall be required for any new or remodeling MFF or support MFF prior to construction or for MFFs that have been acquired by the operator in the finished state. Plans may also be required for a change in menu on an MFF that is presently permitted. MFFs that have been previously permitted or construction reviewed may be accepted as approved without plans as deemed appropriate by the present jurisdiction processing the operating permit.

B. Complete and easily readable plans shall be drawn to scale. Drawings shall show all 4 sides and the top view of the MFF, with enclosure doors shown in open position. The location and type of each of the following, if applicable, shall be shown on the plan:

1. Potable water tanks (length x width x depth indicated).

2. Potable water inlets (type indicated).

3. Overflow lines.

4. Waste water tanks (length x width x height indicated).

5. Waste tank drain valves.

6. Backflow prevention devices.

7. Water heaters (size in gallons indicated).

8. Utensil and hand-wash sinks (length x width x height indicated).

9. All associated plumbing.

10. Each piece of food service equipment and its placement.

11. Specifications for the equipment indicating manufacturer, make and model number shall be indicated either separately or on the plan

12. Ice bins (length x width x height indicated).

13. Finish schedule.

14. Food enclosure and doors.

15. Gas and electrical lines.

16. All other component details (such as utensils, tray inserts, insulations, counters, shelving, storage areas, and food preparation areas, etc.).

C. Accompanying the Plans

1. A commissary agreement letter, if available at that time, shall accompany the plans (otherwise to be submitted prior to final issuance of a permit.).

2. A complete menu listing all of he foods that you propose to prepare or sell from this unit.

3. Operational procedures for food handling and the cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils.

4. For occupied MFF's, certification for occupancy is required prior to permit approval.


A. Food contact surface materials of the MFF shall be durable, easily cleanable, smooth, and shall not be constructed of unfinished wood.

B Construction joints shall be tightly fitted and sealed with no gaps or voids. All sealant, solder and weld joints located in the food contact areas shall be smooth, and approved for food contact surfaces. Spaces around pipes, conduits or hoses that extend through cabinets, floors or outer walls shall be sealed to be smooth and easily cleanable.

C. All food-related equipment and plumbing, including pumps, accumulators and filters, shall be certified or classified for sanitation by an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited certification program, i.e. NSF, ULS, ETL.

D. Water tanks and plumbing shall be constructed of food grade material as approved by a nationally recognized testing organization (such as ANSI) for drinking water.

E. All food related fixtures, tanks, equipment, plumbing, pumps and filters must meet standards referenced in the plumbing code. Plumbing fixtures, pumps and filters shall be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The local administrative authority or Health Departments may require more stringent standards.

F. Equipment set apart from adjacent equipment, or the clearance between the top of the counter and the bottom of a piece of equipment with a rigid utility connection shall provide a minimum gap of 4 inches of unobstructed space to facilitate cleaning. Equipment that can be easily moved by one person and has a flex connection need not comply with the above requirement for 4-inch clear space.

G. Equipment shall be sealed to the floor or raised 6 inches off of the floor by means of an easily cleanable leg and foot (for Occupied MFF’s).

H. Lighting and Power Supply:

1. Light bulbs and tubes shall be covered and completely enclosed with plastic safety shields or the equivalent.

2. Light fixtures shall be installed so as to not constitute a hazard to personnel or food materials.

3. Adequate electrical power shall be provided to all power accessories or appliances.

4. Electrical appliances shall meet applicable Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) standards.

5. Potable water tanks and plumbing:

a. Interiors shall be smooth and free of recesses and crevices and capable of draining completely.

b. Tanks shall be adequately vented for flow.

c. Potable water tanks shall be sufficient in volume to fulfill the required 5-gallon minimum for hand washing and all other volume requirements for product and utensil-washing water. For MFFs with blending vessels, an additional minimum 10-gallon capacity for utensil washing and 15 gallon product water is recommended.

d. Water tank capacities may be satisfied with only one or with multiple potable water tanks.

e. Potable water inlets shall be protected from contamination and designed to preclude attachment to a non-potable service connection, e.g. quick disconnect.

f. Potable water inlets shall be located at least 1” above the overflow.

g. Overflow pipe openings shall be protected from dirt, dust, insects and other contamination.


A. The display and sale of whole aquatic invertebrates or bulk dispensing of non-potentially hazardous beverages shall not require the hand/utensil sink required in Section VI. A.


A. The one compartment sink shall be located on the operator side of the MFF and shall be unobstructed and easily accessible. The sink can be either on the countertop, or under counter, below a countertop cutaway extending at least halfway from the edge of the sink to the faucet handles.

B. A permanent, single-use, commercial towel dispenser shall be required.

C. A permanent hand-soap dispenser shall be required.

D. The one compartment sink shall be equipped with adequate plumbing fixtures that allow for unobstructed utensil washing.

E. The one compartment sink shall have hot and cold water through a mixing faucet capable of delivering minimum one gallon/minute.

F. Water heaters shall be at least ½ gallon capacity, and shall be capable of delivering water at 120°F.

G. Cold running water at 101°F or less shall be available.

H. Gas fired appliances:

1. Thermocouples shall have a safety shut off device.

2. Propane tanks:

a. Propane tanks that are enclosed within the MFF shall have at least two ventilation openings on opposite sides at the cylinder valve level and at least one ventilation opening required at the floor level. Each opening shall be a minimum of 10 square inches, screened with a minimum 16 mesh and shall vent to the exterior of the MFF.

b. The enclosure shall be free of any source of ignition.

c. Propane tanks shall be securely placed and should not be located on the bumper of a trailer-mounted vehicle. The only appropriate placement outside the body of the MFF is on the front (tongue) of the trailer.

d. Propane tanks shall have a safety shut off valve.

e. Propane tanks shall require the installation of a 3 lb. UL fire extinguisher.

3. Insulation is recommended around the steam table, water heater and burner compartment to prevent injury to the MFF operator or customer.

4. Gas fired appliances shall meet applicable standards that are ANSI certified.

5. Certification shall be indicated by a decal on the appliance.

I. Food enclosure(s): shall be present and adequately sized for the intended operation of the MFF.

1. An enclosure shall fully enclose and protect the food, contact surfaces, equipment and all handling of ready-to-eat food. All food processing must remain within the food enclosure, e.g. grinding and blending of coffee.

a. Doors shall be required to allow complete enclosure during transport and non-operation of the MFF and during operating hours whenever food preparation and service is not occurring.

b. Doors shall be tight fitting and vermin-proof (reference NSF Standard 59 for tight fitting).

c. Doors shall only open outward and will not fold, flip or slide up and over the top portion of the enclosure.

d. Folding side-by-side hinged doors are acceptable.

e. Food enclosures shall be free of electrical or plumbing lines with the exception of those lines providing product supply water.

d. The food enclosure interior shall have smooth cleanable surfaces.

e. Ice bins holding edible ice shall be placed within an enclosure and will be designed for easy access.

J. Food preparation counters: Adequate counter space shall be provided for food preparation. All food preparation counters shall be constructed of food grade material.

K. Food enclosures shall be vented to remove excess heat as necessary.

L. Food enclosure ventilation shall be vermin proof.

M. Food Storage Compartments:

1. Food storage compartments shall be large enough to accommodate expected food volumes.

2. Food storage compartments shall be closed when not in use.

3. Food storage compartments for sodas and hot dogs shall be in separate ice bins.

4. Food storage compartments for dry goods and foods shall be in separate compartments.

5. Food storage compartments shall not contain plumbing of any kind.

N. Mechanical refrigeration is required for the storage of cream, milk or similar dairy products and frozen ice cream bars.

O. All pressure cylinders shall be securely fastened to a rigid structure.

P. Wastewater Tanks:

1 Wastewater tanks shall be of sufficient capacity to hold 150% of the potable hand and utensil wash water supply, 15% of product water and 33% of the total ice bin volume.

2. All equipment, drain lines, and drip trays shall drain to the waste tanks by an indirect connection unless the waste tank is vented to prevent backflow.

3. Wastewater tanks may be removable for easy disposal of waste.

4. Wastewater tanks shall have a discharge valve located to facilitate complete draining of the tank.

5. Permanently installed steam tables shall be fitted with a discharge valve and shall not drain to the wastewater tank.

Q. Hand and utensil washing:

1. A one-compartment sink for hand and utensil washing is required. The minimum size is 9x9x5 inches and large enough to accommodate the largest utensil.

2. The minimum potable water tank size is five gallons. Additional potable water capacity is required for product water (such as for making coffee) or other activities other than hand and utensil washing.


A. An occupied mobile food facility means any wheeled conveyance that is occupied during normal business operations and is used in conjunction with the service of a commissary or other approved facility upon which prepackaged or approved non-prepackaged food is sold or offered for sale at retail. Occupied mobile food facility does not include a mobile food preparation unit or a stationary mobile food preparation unit.

B. In addition to general requirements for Mobile Food Facilities, the following shall apply to Occupied Mobile Food Facilities.

C. Occupied Mobile Food Facilities shall be certified for occupancy by the California department of Housing (DOH). The DOH can be contacted at (909) 782-4420.

If the Mobile Food Facility has 110 volt electrical, plumbing, gas mechanical generator or compressor, it must have an insignia issued by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

D. Exterior requirements:

1. Entrance doors to food preparation area and service openings shall be self-closing.

2. Service openings shall be no more than 216 square inches and no less than 18 inches between openings. Food service window requirements do not apply to vehicles handling produce or prepackaged foods.

3. Service openings shall be covered with solid material or screen. If screen is used it must be at least 16 mesh per inch.

4. This section shall not apply to MFFs that are limited to the handling of prepackaged food and produce.

5. Compressor units that are not an integral part of the mobile food facility shall be installed in an area separate from the food prep and storage areas.

6. Propane tanks must be located outside the MFF, and there can be no other attachments on the exterior of the MFF (e.g. can opener).

E. Interior requirements:

1. Occupied Mobile Food Facilities shall have a clear, unobstructed height over the aisle-way portion of the unit of at least 74 inches from floor to ceiling, and a minimum of 30 inches of unobstructed horizontal aisle space.

2. Walls and ceilings shall be constructed so surfaces are impervious, smooth and cleanable.

3. Floors shall be constructed of approved materials.

4. The floor/wall juncture shall be coved with a minimum 3/8-inch radius. The floor surface shall extend up the wall at least four inches. (Vinyl rubber top-set base is not acceptable material). This section shall not apply to mobile food facilities that are limited to the handling of prepackaged non-potentially hazardous food and produce.

5. Unless water flushing of floors is required. If water flushing of floors is required, a food grade hose shall be installed and maintained in an enclosed compartment. The food grade hose shall be of sufficient length to clean the interior of the vehicle.

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