Ohio classes food trucks as mobile food units, a category that also includes trailers and pushcarts. To take out a food truck license in Ohio, you apply to your local government for a permit. Local regulations have to comply with the Ohio Food Safety Code.
Ohio Food Truck Laws
The Ohio food truck laws apply to any retail food business operating from a moving vehicle or other portable structure, such as a pushcart. The state takes the "moving" part seriously: If your truck stays in one place for 40 days, you're a regular food establishment, not a mobile one.
Along with obeying food-safety regulations, food trucks have to abide by other state rules, such as the fire code:
- A food truck can't park where it would block a fire lane or fire hydrant access.
- The truck must have at least one carbon monoxide detector and one fire extinguisher.
- There's no smoking in food trucks.
- If your truck has a generator to power the cooking equipment, you can't fuel the generator while your mobile food unit is in operation.
- All the wiring in your truck's kitchen has to be up to code.
Food Truck License In Ohio
Contact your local government's health department for information about how to apply for a food truck license in Ohio. While the general process will be similar, local governments still have some discretion. For example, consider food truck regulations in Cleveland, Ohio:
- To stay legal, you have to prepare all the food in your truck or at a commercially licensed facility. You can't make food in your home for mobile sales.
- You have to provide the city with a complete menu. It will be printed on the back of your license, and you have to keep it in your truck at all times.
- If you change the menu, you have to reapply for a new license.
- You must provide a list of your food suppliers.
- If you serve produce, you must buy it precut and prewashed and prepare it in a sink.
- If you have to keep food hot or cold, cold food must be kept no warmer than 41 degrees. Hot food can't be cooler than 135 degrees.
- You need a three-compartment sink to clean your utensils and equipment. It has to be big enough that even the largest items can be cleaned.
- You must use a chemical sanitizer such as chlorine to kill potential bacteria on utensils, equipment and food-handling surfaces.
- Your application must include details about your menu, your equipment and the finish materials of kitchen surfaces.
The license fee of $303 combines both a Cleveland fee and a state fee into one. If you submit your paperwork after March 1, you pay a late fee, even if you're not planning to open your truck until fall.
Columbus, Ohio Food Truck Permit
A Columbus, Ohio food truck permit costs only $200. The application lists the information you have to submit:
- Proof of identity, such as a state driver's license
- A state vendor's license if you're selling taxable items
- A letter from the city tax division confirming you're in good standing
- Proof that your vehicle is registered
- Commercial liability insurance. For food trucks, you need $1 million in coverage.
- A background check
- Your truck has to undergo a health inspection and a fire inspection
- You have to certify that if you're using a propane tank, it has been checked for leaks
Your food-handling regulations are mostly identical to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. However, you aren't required to have a restroom or a grease interceptor. Usually, you can do without a ventilator hood too.
- Cleveland Department of Public Health: Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code
- Ohio Department of Commerce: Mobile Food Units
- Cleveland Department of Public Health: Mobile Food Service Operation Planning Application
- Cleveland Department of Public Health: License Fee Schedule
- Cleveland Department of Public Health: Food Safety
- City of Columbus Department of Public Safety: Mobile Food Vending Information Sheet
- Columbus Public Health: Introduction to Mobile Food Units
Fraser Sherman has written about every aspect of business: how to start one, how to keep one in the black, the best business structure, the details of financial statements. He's also run a couple of small businesses of his own. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com