Health District

Special Events/Temporary Food

  • Is there an annual permit to cover a full season for temporary foods?

    No. However, there is an annual sampling permit available for vendors who wish to sample only, which applies to sanctioned Farmer's Markets, Craft Fairs, etc. This permit is valid only for the calendar year in which it was purchased.

  • If I turn in a food permit application and pay the fee, have I been approved?

    No. The application is subject to review and food service operations must comply with regulations. Incomplete applications may be rejected. Applications may also be rejected based on inability to contact the person in charge of food service, menu item restrictions, or operational concerns.

  • I am going to buy bulk muffins and bagels at my local grocery store and sell them individually at an event. Do I need a temporary food permit?

    A temporary food permit is required any time open food is being offered to the public at a special event.

    If food items that are not individually prepackaged and on-site preparation (opening of package and contact with food item) is required, a temporary food establishment permit must be obtained.

  • Can I prepare food for a Special Event at home?

    Only registered cottage food operators can prepare food at home for a special event.  All cottage food requirements must be followed and additional temporary food permitting may apply.  Other than the above exception, no food preparation is allowed at a private residence for items served to the general public.

  • What is a cumulative maximum fee for special events/temporary food establishments?

    A temporary food establishment which operates at the same special event, in the same location and serves the same menu for at least three times during a calendar year will be eligible for a cumulative maximum fee. The temporary food establishment will be charged the permit fee for the event multiplied by three. The operation of the temporary food establishment is limited to 14 days per calendar year.

  • Do I still need a permit if I am giving away food?

    Food prepared in a private home and given away free of charge for charitable purposes does not require a permit.  The food cannot be given to a food establishment and cannot be associated with a special event.
  • What food and beverage items are exempt from permit requirements?

    The following is a list of temporary food establishment permit exemptions (per regulation):
    • Bottled water, canned soft drinks.
    • Coffee/Tea with powdered non-dairy creamer or ultra-pasteurized creamer packaged in individual servings. (This exemption does not include beverages such as lattés and espressos that are mixed with dairy product by the vendor during preparation).
    • Commercially prepared acidic beverages (orange juice, lemonade, etc.) that are served from the original, properly labeled container without the addition of consumer ice or other regulated food product.
    • Draft beer and other alcoholic beverages (wine) that are served without the addition of consumer ice or the addition of other regulated food product.
    • Hermetically sealed and unopened containers of non-potentially hazardous beverages, which do not require refrigeration (sport drinks, energy drinks, etc.).
    • Hot chocolate prepared without the use of potentially hazardous dairy products.
    • Non-potentially hazardous prepackaged baked goods with proper labeling from an approved source and requiring no on-site preparation (opening of package and contact with food item).
    • Non-potentially hazardous and unopened prepackaged foods from an approved source with proper labeling such as honey, jerked meats, potato chips, popcorn and other similar foods.
    • Produce sold from a produce stand where no sampling or food preparation is done.
    • Commercially prepared, prepackaged, and unopened ice cream that is appropriately labeled as to ingredients and manufacturer. Smoothie products (Jamba Juice and Keva Juice) made and prepackaged at the fixed permitted facility and appropriately labeled with ingredients and manufacturer.
    • Shelled and unshelled nuts, including flavored nuts for sample or sale.
    • Food Supplements that are offered for sample or sale without the addition of regulated food items. These include, but are not limited to vitamins, minerals, protein powder mixes, energy drinks, and herbal mixtures.
    • Foods from an approved source prepared for a “cook-off” or judging contest limited to one (1) gallon maximum of food product per contestant per day.
  • Can I sell food made from a private home at my school or church fundraiser?

    Yes. A religious, charitable or other nonprofit organization may, without possessing a permit from the Washoe County Health District (WCHD), sell food to raise money, whether or not the food was prepared at a private home, if the sale occurs on the premises of the organization.

  • Is there a food permit fee exemption for veterans as in California?

    No. County Finance has not passed any such exemptions for purchase of permits.

  • I am a grocery store and I would like to barbeque food outside and sell/serve the food inside. Do I need a temporary food permit?

    No. In accordance with the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) Barbeque Policy, a fixed facility with a valid WCHD permit does not require a temporary food permit to barbeque food outside provided that food preparation, and service is conducted inside the facility. If food preparation and service is conducted outside the facility, a temporary food establishment permit is required.

  • I am a grocery store and I would like to sample food inside my store. Do I need a temporary food permit?

    No. If a fixed facility (grocery store, restaurant, etc.) already has a permit through the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) Food Protection Program, and the food will be sampled inside the store, a temporary food permit is not required. If the establishment wishes to sample or sell food outside, a temporary food permit is required.

  • How far ahead of time must I purchase a Temporary Food Permit?

    A temporary food permit must be obtained at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the event.  Late fees apply to applications submitted within seven (7) days prior to the event.

  • I am an existing food establishment that would like to participate in a special event what do I do?

    Existing food establishment permits do not extend outside of the approved fixed facility. Existing food establishments must obtain a Temporary Food Permit when operating outside of the approved facility.

  • I have a mobile food unit and would like to participate in a special event. Do I need a temporary food establishment permit?

    If a mobile food unit has a valid Mobile Food Permit issued from the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) Food Protection Program, a temporary food permit is not required if the unit is fully self-contained as permitted and other food preparation or storage equipment is not required; however the mobile food unit must have the permission of the event promoter to participate in the event. If the mobile food unit does not have a valid WCHD Mobile Food Permit, a temporary food establishment permit is required.
    NOTE concerning multiple-day special events: A mobile food unit must return to the designated servicing area DAILY as a condition required under the valid mobile permit. A temporary food establishment permit is required if the mobile unit remains in the same location for the duration of a multi-day event.
  • I am going to have a tasting event where food is donated and sampled by patrons; do I need a temporary food permit?

    A temporary food establishment permit must be obtained to cover each separate food vendor. Please contact this agency for available permitting options.

  • Can I prepare the food for a Special Event ahead of time at an approved facility?

    Any food prep performed prior to the first day of a special event must receive prior approval from the WCHD.  Advanced preparation details must be disclosed in the temporary food permit application.  Cooking and cooling of food items in advance is usually not allowed.

  • I am a promoter and I would like to organize and put on a special event, what do I need to do?

    The promoter must first contact the city or county business licensing department (Washoe County, City of Reno or City of Sparks) in which the event is going to be held to ensure the necessary permits/licenses are obtained in order to operate within the city/county limits. If the event’s daily attendance is equal to or exceeds 5,000 persons per day, or the total attendance over a fourteen (14) day period is equal to or exceeds 10,000 persons, the promoter must obtain an Application for a Special Event Permit from the Washoe County Health District.

  • Is there a reduced food permit fee for non-profits?

    No. Non-profit fees were removed from the current fee schedule as of July 1, 2016.

  • What is a low risk food?

    Examples of low risk food items include, samples given of any food item (including potentially hazardous foods), any beverage served in an open container with consumer ice, coffee drinks blended with dairy products (espresso, lattés), popcorn, pretzels, cotton candy, snow cones/shaved ice, funnel cakes, French fries, fried/cooked vegetables, roasted corn, churros, breads, pastries, nuts, sliced fruit (including melons), candy, fudge/chocolate.

  • What is a potentially hazardous food?

    Potentially hazardous food includes any animal food (a food of animal origin) that is raw or heat-treated; a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts; cut melons; and garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way that prevents bacterial growth. Some examples of potentially hazardous food include, meat, poultry, fish, shell fish and crustaceans, milk and dairy products, cooked rice, and cooked beans, baked potatoes, tofu and soy protein foods, eggs (except those treated to eliminate Salmonella), raw sprouts, and sliced melons.

  • What is a special event?

    A special event is a transitory gathering such as, but not limited to, an activity (including soccer, baseball and softball league games), a celebration, festival or fundraiser which is open to the public.

  • What is a temporary food establishment?

    A temporary food establishment is any food establishment which operates at a fixed location for a temporary period of time, not to exceed 14 consecutive days, in connection with a special event.

Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »