Skip to content
Food Safety for Industry

Mobile Food Cart/Unit

The photos shows a hot dog vending cart.A mobile food cart or mobile food unit is a vehicle-mounted food service operation that returns daily to a retail food establishment, which is its base of operation.

Food Permit(s) Not Needed

Carts serving only pre-packaged snacks, canned drinks, and non-potentially hazardous foods requiring minimal preparation such as cotton candy and boiled peanuts:

Food Permit(s) Needed

Mobile food carts/units serving potentially hazardous foods such as hot dogs, ice cream or pizza: These carts are an extension of a permitted retail food establishment. The mobile food cart/unit is required to return to its base - the retail food establishment - daily for servicing of the cart.

  • The mobile food cart and the base, the retail food establishment, must be owned by the same person or people. and the owner must apply for and meet all requirements for a Retail Food Service Establishment permit.. DHEC must also inspect and approve the mobile food cart/unit.

Other Requirements

The photo shows a fully enclosed mobile food unit.South Carolina allows mobile food carts or units that:

  • Are portable, movable food services mounted on a vehicle, towed or pushed.
  • Sell and serve at one location but return to a permanent base of operations daily for cleaning, restocking and prep work
  • Are constructed with food preparation and display areas that are completely enclosed with a solid material
  • Have doors that are kept closed when not in use
  • Are equipped with a handwashing lavatory  with hot and cold water under pressure, along with a soap dispenser, disposable towels and an approved wastewater tank
  • Have a base of operations that includes a preparation and cleaning area for food and any items that come in contact with food. The areas must be constructed from approved types of materials.
  • Meet all other applicable requirements and standards of S.C. Regulation 61-25 — Retail Food Establishments.

Home Based Business

If you want to use your home as your base of operations for a mobile food cart you must: