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.
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.
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.
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.