Mobile Food Cart/Unit
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.
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:
- Check with local zoning officials to see if you are allowed to operate a business out of your home
- Get a retail food service permit (pdf) from DHEC if you are serving anything other than pre-packaged foods, canned drinks or non-potentially hazardous foods like cotton candy and boiled peanuts.
- Meet all applicable requirements and standards for mobile food units listed in S.C. Regulation 61-25 — Retail Food Establishments.