For patrons and those with appetites, food trucks can be a refreshing change of pace and an easy way to try new cuisines. For entrepreneurs, food trucks can be the ticket to freedom, or at the very least, a means to a good income.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, patrons and food truck operators aren't the only eyes on food trucks. Food trucks, as you might imagine, are subject to many safety and food handling protocols, including more than a few overseeing authorities.
##Food Truck Costs
There are costs associated with starting and running a food truck. The first of these costs is a business license. In most states, business license fees for food trucks are determined at the county level. Some, however, are statewide. Washington, Illinois, Delaware, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Alaska, Indiana, Ohio, Nevada, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Alabama, Minnesota, Maryland, and New York all have license fees between $15 and $500. The lowest fees are in Minnesota ($15), Alaska ($25), Indiana ($25), and Ohio ($25), while the highest are in New York ($100-$200), and Nevada ($200-$500).
Another cost for food truck operators is the annual facility cost. Again, in most states, this fee varies by county. In California, this fee can be as much as $1,000. In most states, it ranges from $150 to $700 per year. However, Virginia, New York, Nevada, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Nebraska all have annual fees less than $100.
In addition, every food truck must also have a Public Health Permit License, a Food Handler’s Permit, and a Seller’s Permit. The total of these three permits will be approximately $100-$1,000.
Many people, and in particular, single-owner or small business operations, that run food trucks, only do so locally or within their state of residence. These people often winterize or put their food trucks in safe storage during the off-season.
Anyone who operates locally or only works within their state of residence will be required to get permits and licensing from that state. In most cases, these fees and licenses are reasonably priced and don't cause any financial burden on food truck operators. The major concern for any food truck operator, regardless of the type of operation, is ensuring a valid license and right to work in said state. ## State and Local Regulations There are also local and state regulations that are enforced for food truck operations as well. Some states, like California, and Florida, require a Certified Food Protection Manager to be involved in the operation of the business to make sure all good safety regulations are followed. Man cities have rules about both the hours of operation and length of operation, with four consecutive hours being a common limit for a food truck.
Additionally, all states have requirements for food safety. These include designated hand washing stations, requiring food to be prepared in an inspected commercial kitchen, and not allowing food to be handled with bare hands.
There are also many types of food truck services that operate year-round. Many of these food trucks follow fair and festival circuits, moving farther south during colder months and then to the northern parts of the country during warmer seasons.
That also means trucks that sell or distribute food items in other states are also required to be licensed by that or those states. The good news is, for the majority of food truck businesses, that will only include a few states at most.
We have all probably encountered a food truck or two in our day. These mobile food vendors are often a welcome sight and can be found at construction sites, around fairs and carnivals, or even at retail store locations.
Food trucks that operate in a retail capacity, however, will also have additional requirements to meet. The Department of Public Health Division of Food, Milk & Lodging is the branch of the US Food & Drug Administration that typically handles food trucks operating in this capacity.