How do I start a food truck business?

Mobile Unit/Food Truck Guidelines

1. A mobile unit may operate at public events (fairs, festivals, etc.) by applying for Temporary Food Service Permits for each event. Requirements are less restrictive than annually licensed units that operate on a more regular basis. 

2. A mobile unit operating on a routine basis requires an annual Food Service License and the mobile unit must be in full compliance with Maryland’s Food Service Regulations (COMAR 10.15.03). Operating as an annually licensed mobile unit in Frederick County will also allow you to participate at public events in Frederick County without the need of additionally obtaining Temporary Food Service Permits.

To obtain annual licensure for a mobile unit

A) Have a mobile unit constructed. This option requires submitting plans to be reviewed and approved by the Frederick County Health Department Food Program prior to the start of any construction. (Plan review fee is required.) 

B) Purchase a pre-owned mobile unit that is already outfitted with necessary equipment. This option is more risky to the operator because mobile units licensed in other jurisdictions may not be automatically licensed in Frederick County. It is recommended that when shopping for pre-owned mobile units, pictures of the mobile unit (including equipment, sinks, and plumbing detail, etc.) are submitted for evaluation prior to purchase. 

All mobile units require a Base of Operations or Commissary in order to comply with COMAR 10.15.03. This is where the mobile unit will get potable water, dispose of gray water, dispose of grease from fryers (if need be), use the larger 3 compartment sink for cleaning and sanitizing equipment on the mobile unit, and where the mobile unit may have storage as needed. An additional license may be required for the “Base of Operations” if the kitchen is being used for more than clean-up, minimal storage, and/or minimal prep. 

  • Facility must provide a Commissary Agreement Form indicating permission for the mobile unit operator to use the facility as its Base of Operations. 
  • If facility is not located within Frederick County, a copy of the facility’s current Food License is also required.
  • A menu must also be submitted for review and a HACCP plan will most likely be required ($75 review fee).
  • Additional license may be required for the “Base of Operations” if the kitchen is being used for more than clean-up, minimal storage, and/or minimal prep.
  • Waste water tank must be larger than the potable water tank.
  • Exterior access to fresh water tank must be lockable.
  • Operable windows require screens.
  • AC may be required depending on equipment and operation during summer months.
  • Licensed mobile units are not permitted to have food service outside the unit – including grills and smokers.

Show All Answers

1. I got sick after eating carryout food. How do I make a complaint?
2. How do I obtain a Temporary Special Food Service Facility permit to serve food at a public event?
3. How do I start a food truck business?
4. How do I open a new restaurant?
5. I want to make cookies in my home to sell at a farmers market. Do I need a food license?
6. Can I pay by credit card?
7. Do I need a permit to give bottled water to the runners at 5K road race fundraiser?
8. How do I wash my hands if a hand sink with running water is not available at my temporary event? Can I use hand sanitizer instead? Do I have to wear gloves?
9. Why must I list the source of the water to be used for a Temporary Food Service Facility? How much does a food license cost?
10. What if my event is cancelled due to inclement weather? Is my permit valid on another day?
11. Where can I find the food facility regulations for Frederick County?
12. I heard that the State of Maryland requires restaurants post allergen information for their employees. Is this correct?
13. Does Frederick County require each food service facility to have a Certified Food Manager on Staff?
14. The restaurant I went to last night allowed patrons to smoke at the bar. Is smoking allowed in public places?