NY Mobile Food Truck Regulations
Mobile Food Trucks in New York are managed under the Mobile Food Vendor (MFV) regulations. These regulations specify the roles of the commissary and food truck vendors. Regulations governing mobile food trucks include: safety rules, types of permits, infractions, penalties, locations where truck vendors can sell, and more.
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR MOBILE FOOD VEHICLES (MFV) IN NYC
Regulations for food trucks in NYC are managed by the departments of Transportation, Health, Consumer Affairs, and Sanitation. The City of New York website provides a compilation of all regulations and legal aspects to operate a mobile food vending business in NY. For easy access, the link to every document and regulation is also listed in the City of New York Website.
The permission to operate a food truck for sales in NY starts at $200, although some people lease their permits for up to $25,000 for two years due to the long time it takes to get a new permit.
- Vendors can sell on any street except for those signaled as restricted if they comply with all codes and rules to sell food. The NYC book of regulations and rules for MFV provides the specific streets in the city where food trucks are allowed to locate/park and where not to park.
- There is no limit on the number of food trucks that can sell on the same block.
- Food trucks cannot sell in a metered space. Selling food in a metered space can be penalized with a fine of between $160 to $1,000 or in the worst case scenario, the vendor is fined $1,000 and his/her food truck is shut down for a day.
- Another regulation prohibits the selling of food within 200 feet of a school and 500 feet of a public market. Some local shops don't let food trucks park and sell in front of their space.
All food trucks and MFV can only operate and sell with a permit from the Commissioner and a decal from the Department of Health. The unit cannot be modified after the decal and inspection from the Department of Health has been finalized. The person who operates the unit is also required to have a license from the Commissioner (unless it's volunteer work), which can only be obtained after the person completes the food protection course from the Department of Health. When operating the unit, the vendor must wear the badge issued by the Department of Health visibly. Ice cream trucks, however, don't require a decal.
The permits and licenses must be renewed after every two years. Temporary permits are only issued between April 1st and October 31st and are only valid for that season. If the unit operates in a private area, the vendor will require additional written permission from the premises owner.
There are six types of permits:
- Citywide permit: This permit allows the vendor to sell anywhere in the city for the whole year and has a two-year validation.
- Temporary permit: With this permit, the vendor can only sell from April 1st to October 31st on any authorized street and must renew it every year.
- Borough-specific permit: This permit allows the vendor to sell only on public streets of Staten Island, Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn for a year and has a two-year validity.
- Green-cart permit: This allows the vendor to sell only fruits and vegetables on any authorized place for a year with a two-year validity.
- Restricted area permit: It allows the vendor to sell in private locations with a written lease agreement from the owner of the private property with a two-year validity.
- Specialized vendor permit: It allows the disabled and veterans to sell around the NYC park's perimeter for one year.
MFVs are not authorized to transfer food from one unit to another without permission unless it is for charity, the vendor risks losing his/her license. The transfer of licenses, badges, permit, and decals is also prohibited.
Food must be provided only by authorized distributors and units must be equipped with thermostats to keep control of the refrigeration, holding, and cooking temperature.
All ice that comes in contact with food and utensils must come from potable water from authorized providers. Raw meat, raw fish, and aquatic animals can only be processed and prepared at the commissary and later be reheated and sold from the truck. Fruits and vegetables must be properly refrigerated.
Food on display must always be protected from contamination. Condiments must be provided in single serving containers packed by the manufacturer or a pump container. The vendor must follow hand hygiene and be fully clothed with a sleeved shirt and covered midriffs. Cooking spaces must be placed in an area where they cannot be contaminated and the lighting that comes in contact with food must be artificial of above 540 lux.
The equipment required to pass inspection depends on the different types of food and the list of utensils per food specified in the MFV regulations guide. The vendor must use different utensils to touch cooked and raw food. Only a certified FDNY person can connect the tank of gas.
A first violation penalty fee is between $25 and $50. The second violation within two years of the first violation attracts a penalty fee of between $50 and $100, while a third violation within two years of the previous violations attracts a penalty fee of between $100 and $250. Any additional violation will attract a penalty fee of between $250 and $500. A penalty based on the infringement can be $100 per day, operating without a license, loss of license, closure of unit temporarily, permanently, among others.
ADDITIONAL RULES FOR VENDORS
- Every food vendor must have written records of daily sales, expenses and purchases, and accurate bookkeeping of expenditures with receipts.
- Vendors must be ready for sudden inspections based on permit renewal, response to complaints, and follow up on violations.
- Permit holders must supervise their unit at all times and will be responsible for any violation that happens in the unit, as well as paying any fee.
- A food truck must have 40 gallons tank for drinking water, a wastewater tank, and a separation between the food preparation area and the cabin.
- The truck must also have two propane gas units of 100 pounds each if the food is prepared in the truck.
ABOUT THE COMMISSARY
According to the regulations, the MFV Commissary is in charge of providing:
- A place to store the MFV when it is not being used.
- A space for cleaning the MFV.
- A space to clean the equipment used and utensils.
- Disposing waste and removing it from the MFVs.
- Providing the equipment to handle disposal.
- Supplying food, potable water, and non-food supplies.
- Provide space to prepare the food and propane tanks.
The commissary requires a permit from the commissioner or the Department of Agriculture and Markets to operate and store units. The permit must be renewed every year. The commissary must operate and be built in compliance with article 81 of the regulation document.
At the commissary, vendors must make sure they don't leave propane gas and food stored inside the unit. They must also make sure to clean the unit inside and out and utensils properly.