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Temporary Food Establishment Requirements

Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) requires food vendors that are participating in temporary events to obtain a temporary food establishment (TFE) permit. These permits may remain in effect for up to two weeks for the same event. Separate events occurring on consecutive weekends require separate permits. Nonprofit/501(c) organizations are exempt from TFE permit fees.

The following requirements are for temporary food service operations in Williamson County, not in the City Limits of Austin. These requirements are based on the Texas Food Establishment Rules.

  • All food must be from an approved source.
  • Only approved Texas cottage food items or ingredients may be prepared or cooked in a home kitchen for approved events.* For all other events, food and canned food products must be produced in a permitted facility.
  • Prepackaged foods not requiring time and temperature control for safety (TCS) produced in a legally permitted facility sold in original packaging do not require permitting. A permit will be required if samples are to be served to the public, unless the samples are prepackaged at a permitted, inspected facility.

*Under Texas Cottage Food Laws, a vendor can sell foods on the “approved” list at the following events:
farmer’s market, municipal, county, or nonprofit fair, festival, or event. To rephrase, a fair, festival, or
event must be sponsored by a municipality (city), county, or a non-profit organization. For questions on
the Texas Cottage Food Law, contact WCCHD Retail Food Services at 512-943-3620. For a list of
approved foods, see:

The temporary food vendor is responsible for meeting the following requirements:

  • Handwashing – Hand sanitizer and gloves cannot substitute for handwashing.
    • If using an indoor facility, a sink must be dedicated for handwashing only. The vendor is responsible for providing warm water, soap, and disposable paper towels. Hand sanitizer and gloves cannot substitute for handwashing.
    • If using an outdoor facility, the vendor must provide hand soap, paper towels, a container to dispense water for handwashing (plastic container with spigot) and a wastewater catch bucket or holding tank.

Note: When handling food, you must first wash your hands (20 seconds), then use disposable gloves. No bare hand contact with food is permitted.

  • Temperature Control –
    • The vendor must provide a method of maintaining temperature requirements for foods at:
      • 41°F or below prior to cooking (refrigerators, ice chests, etc.).
      • 135ºF after food is thoroughly cooked and is ready to be served to the public (closed grill, hot holding unit, crock pot, etc.). Foods heated and/or prepared onsite must be served the same day. Food left at the end of the day must be discarded.
    • Vendor must have stem thermometer on site that measures between 0ºF and 220ºF in order to monitor food temperatures. This thermometer must be cleaned and sanitized between uses or remain in a container with only one product for continuous temperature tracking.
    • If transporting food from a preparation facility to a different serving location, manner of transportation of food must be approved by the Health District to maintain required hot/cold holding temperatures.


  • Cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils – A minimum of three basins are required to wash, rinse, and sanitize dishes/utensils. Basin size must accommodate largest item. Utensils/equipment used continuously must be washed, rinsed and sanitized every four (4) hours unless items are contaminated before that time

Procedure to properly clean and sanitize all equipment:

  • Scrape off all loose food particles
  • Basin #1 – Dish soap solution to wash
  • Basin #2 – Clear water to rinse (replace often)
  • Basin #3 – Bleach water solution to sanitize (2 teaspoons bleach to 1 gallon water)
  • The vendor must also provide a spray bottle of sanitizing solution (1 Tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water) and paper towels to wipe counters and to spot clean equipment as needed. Clean water access is required for replacement in the basins (public water supply, bottled water). All water must be disposed of in an approved location and not on the ground.


  • Covered food prep area –
    • If serving food outside, all food and drink must be dispensed from a covered or “roofed” concession stand (eight (8) foot ceiling, tent, netting, tarp, etc.). All equipment used for heating foods must remain covered and opened only as required for service.
    • Grills or other cooking equipment, placed outside of the covered food prep area, must have a lid or other durable cover. No outdoor food preparation or service can be conducted on an uncovered surface or cooking unit.


  • Food protection and storage –
    • All food shall be protected from customer handling, coughing, sneezing or other contamination by use of barriers such as sneeze guards, wrapping, closed containers, etc.
    • Condiments shall be dispensed in single service type packaging, in pump style dispensers, or in protected squeeze bottles.
    • All food must be served to customers in single service containers. Containers cannot be reused.
    • All food must be placed in water proof containers with lids if being placed in ice. Food may not sit directly in ice. Ice used to cool foods may not be served in drinks.


  • Trash facilities – The vendor must provide a covered trash container with a plastic liner for all waste.

If you have questions about these requirements, please contact our Temporary Food Event Coordinators:
David Urban, RS, or Kay Kelley, RS, at 512-943-3620