Temporary Food Establishments

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What is a Temporary Food Establishment? 
A Temporary Food Establishment (TFE) is a type of food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration, including carnivals, fairs, festivals, and other events. These establishments are distinguished from other classes of food establishments in the Food Regulations, such as mobile food establishments, caterers, and traditional restaurants.

How is a TFE different from other types of food establishments?
TFEs typically operate with limited resources (water, electricity, wastewater disposal) and for a short duration.
Unlike permanent facilities, TFEs operate with equipment staged beneath a tent or similar open-air cover.
TFEs are often seasonal in nature and may operate at a fixed location such as a farmers market, or at an event or celebration including but not limited to—festivals, community fairs, music venues, sporting events, and other public gatherings.

Do TFEs need to comply with the Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) requirement 
As specified in the Virginia Food Regulations, by July 2018, food establishments (including TFEs) will need to have at least one employee with supervisory and management responsibility and the authority to direct and control food preparation and service who is a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). A “Food Establishment” by definition includes a “temporary facility or location where consumption is on or off the premises.”

Food Vendors -- When do I need a permit?
If you are planning on operating at a temporary event, you are required to obtain the applicable permit from the Local Health Department prior to operation. The permit must be posted where it can easily be seen by the public. A TFE permit is valid only for the specified permit period (up to 12 months) and is not transferable from person to person.
If you hold a valid permanent VDH Food Establishment Permit (restaurant, caterer, mobile food establishment, etc.) and are interested in also operating at a temporary event, you do not need to obtain an additional permit so long as all food is prepared in accordance with the Board of Health Food Regulations. The local health department in which you operate your permanent establishment needs to be aware that you also plan to operate at a temporary event.

Please visit the VDH website for additional information and laws/regulations associated with TFEs.

The More the Merrier



When preparing for your special event, remember that there may be an invisible enemy ready to strike. It’s called BAC (foodborne bacteria), and it can make you sick. Lots of people and little time can create opportunities for mishandling and contamination. After the big party, remember to safely handle leftovers to prevent foodborne illness.

Plan Ahead

  • Make sure you have the right equipment, including cutting boards, utensils, food thermometers, cookware, shallow containers for storage, soap, and paper towels.
  • Plan on enough storage space in the refrigerator and freezer. In the refrigerator, air needs to circulate to keep the temperature at 400F or below. Use an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator to monitor the temperature.

When You Shop

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from fruit, vegetables, other foods and cleaning supplies in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
  • Check that fresh cut fruits and vegetables like packaged salads and precut melons are refrigerated at the store before purchasing. Do not buy fresh cut items that are not refrigerated.
  • Buy cold foods last. Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. You may want to take a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs for perishables. Always refrigerate perishable food within two hours. Refrigerate within one hour when the temperature is above 900F.
  • Avoid canned goods that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted. These are the warning signs that dangerous bacteria may be growing in the can.

Working in the Kitchen

  • Make sure that anyone who helps in the kitchen knows the basic food safety rules--- clean, separate, cook and chill.
  • Encourage everyone to wash his or her hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Sponges and kitchen towels can easily soak up bacteria and cross-contaminate kitchen surfaces and hands. When a crowd is over and food preparation gets hectic, it can be safer to use paper towels.
  • Try to keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible to keep it safely at 400F or below.

Lovely Leftovers

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 900F. This also includes leftovers taken from home from a restaurant. Some exceptions to this rule are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3 – 4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 1650F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that causes illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.


fightbac.org for more information