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Temporary Food Service Establishments

Temporary food service establishments in Kentucky (such as booths at festivals), unless specifically exempted, must obtain a permit to operate and be inspected by the Health Department prior to opening.

Please note: Starting April 1, 2017, the application and necessary fee must be submitted to the Health Department at least three business days prior to the event's start date.

Application for a temporary permit: Word, PDF

Letter about change in policy

Basic requirements
Additional considerations
Food from establishments licensed outside of Kentucky


To operate for 1 to 3 days $50
To operate for 4 to 7 days $75
To operate for 8 to 14 days $100

Basic requirements

An environmentalist inspects a temporary food booth
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  1. Adequate supply of clean water available to allow for food preparation, hand washing and utensil washing/sanitizing.
  2. Hand wash station with soap and paper towels. This can be either a hand sink with running water or a container of water with a for dispensing water and a bucket below to catch waste water. Food service workers must thoroughly wash and rinse hand between tasks, especially after using the restroom, handling trash/garbage, handling raw/uncooked foods and prior to handling cooked/ready-to-eat items. Disposable gloves must be changed between tasks such as after handling raw/uncooked foods and prior to handling cooked/ready-to-eat items.
  3. Utensil sanitizing station--either a three compartment sink with running water or three buckets for washing, rinsing and sanitizing utensils.
  4. Animal and insect exclusion measures in place to minimize the potential for contamination of foods, typically a fully enclosed booth, a fully screened booth or a canopy with a large fans.
  5. Equipment provided for maintaining potentially hazardous foods (such as meat, dairy, egg and cooked vegetable products) at safe temperatures, such as refrigerators, freezers, coolers with ice and/or warmer cabinets. Potentially hazardous foods must be maintained at temperatures below 41 degrees Fahrenheit or above 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Conveniently located, approved restroom facilities available.

Additional considerations

  1. All food items must be from an approved source. Receipts and invoices may be required to verify the source. Foods prepared in unapproved facilities such as a kitchen in a private residence are prohibited.
  2. All food shall be prepared on-site, unless prior approval has been given. Food prepared off-site in a Health Department-licensed kitchen must receive approval from the Health Department prior to the event as operating permits must be verified.
  3. Wiping cloths while being used must be kept clean and sanitized through the use of an approved sanitizing solution. Storage of wiping cloths in the sanitizing solution between uses is required.
  4. Test papers will be required for testing of sanitizer concentration in the sanitizing rinse of the utensil sanitizing station and in wiping cloth storage containers.
  5. There can be no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. To avoid bare hand contact, use utensils, disposable gloves, deli papers, etc.
  6. Foods must be heated rapidly to required cooking temperatures using equipment designed for the purpose prior to being held above 135 Fahrenheit for long term hot storage.
  7. Appropriate thermometers must be provided for monitoring food and food storage equipment temperatures.
  8. Bulk processing of potentially hazardous foods at temporary sites is prohibited.
  9. Only menu items requiring limited on site preparation with regard to cutting, assembly and cooking will be allowed.
  10. Food handlers must practice good hygiene. Clothing and aprons must be clean. Hair restraints must be provided.
  11. Trash/garbage containers appropriate to the situation with tight-fitting lids must be provided. Refuse must be properly contained so as not to attract pests.

Food from establishments licensed outside of Kentucky
Vendors with food service licenses in Ohio and Indiana often ask about bringing prepared food items in to Northern Kentucky to serve or sell. Out-of-state licensed restaurants need to supply a copy of their operating permit and last regular inspection when applying for a temporary food permit. For more information, contact RJ Beck at 859.363.2018 or