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Health Department

Food Trucks and Push Carts 

satisfied couple taking ordered sandwiches from an polite and friendly and polite employee

Mobile food trucks, food trailers, and push carts are regulated and licensed by the health department to prevent foodborne illness and protect the health of consumers.

Operating a food truck, trailer, or push cart in Douglas County requires submitting a Mobile Unit Plan Review form, getting an inspection, providing required documentation, and paying a fee to obtain a license.

Definitions

Food trucks and trailers: A retail food establishment that is a wheeled vehicle or trailer that is readily moveable and designed for the service of food from the interior of the unit. The establishment is intended to physically report to and operate from a commercial commissary kitchen for servicing, restocking, and maintenance each operating day. 

Push carts: A retail food establishment that is a non-motorized unit designed so foods are served from the exterior of the unit and require very little preparation, such as hot dogs. Push carts are intended to physically report to and operate from a commercial commissary kitchen for servicing, restocking, and maintenance each operating day. 

Commissary: An approved facility for preparation of various food items, storage of all supplies, and for all cleaning or servicing operations. The mobile retail food establishment or pushcart must report to this location daily for supplies, cleaning, and/or services. 

If the commissary facility is not owned by the vendor, the vendor must provide a completed Commissary Agreement. The commissary must be located in Arapahoe, Douglas, or Elbert County. A commissary located in Denver may be accepted, provided that the mobile unit operator is already in possession of a mobile retail food license issued by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (copies of these licenses must be submitted with the Douglas County Commissary Agreement). 

Food Truck and Push Cart Licensing

A retail food license from the health department is required annually for mobile food trucks, trailers, and pushcarts. A retail food license always expires on Dec. 31 regardless of when the license was issued and must be renewed each year in operation.  Before a mobile truck, trailer or pushcart can be licensed to sell food, the following steps must be taken: 

Mobile Unit Plan Review Form
If your mobile truck or trailer (not push cart) has not been licensed by Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) in the past, either by yourself or by a previous owner, you must complete and submit a Mobile Unit Plan Review form.

Renewal Inspection
If your mobile truck, trailer, or push cart has been licensed by TCHD in the past, please call 720-643-2400 to schedule an appointment with an Environmental Health Specialist for an inspection. If you have not scheduled an inspection, your truck or cart will not be inspected. 

Name/Phone Labeling
Prior to the inspection, please make sure the unit has been identified with the trade name and telephone number of the owner/operator on two sides of the unit. The name should be at least 3 inches high with at least 3/8” brush strokes. The color of the letters or numerals should contrast with the unit’s exterior paint. 

Refrigeration Units and Steam Tables
Before your inspection, make sure the refrigeration units and steam tables are operating (if your vehicle has this equipment):

  • Cold temperatures must be kept at or below 41°F.
  • Hot temperatures must be kept at or above 135°F.  The potable water reservoir should be filled, and hot water must be available at the hand sink and three-compartment sink (if applicable). 

Required Documents
You will need to provide the Colorado State Sales Tax license certificate, a written copy of your menu, and a completed commissary agreement. 

Payment
Check or credit card payment is acceptable. Checks should be payable to Douglas County Health Department for the food service licensing fee. 

Inspection
If you do not provide the above-listed documents and payment, your truck or cart will not be inspected.

Upon arrival at the Health Department office, an Environmental Health Specialist will review your menu and ask questions concerning the preparation of food to ensure the food being served is appropriate for the truck, trailer, or cart. The specialist will then inspect your mobile unit and equipment. If no violations are found, the licensing paperwork will be completed at the office.

If you need to correct any violations, you will be given a list of those violations. A license will not be issued until all violations are corrected. Operating without a retail food establishment license may result in a $250 to $1,000 fine. 

COVID-19 Modifications

Retail food and mobile plan reviews can be dropped off at our Castle Rock office located at 410 S. Wilcox St.   

To renew your mobile retail food service license in 2022, please contact our Environmental Health Office in Castle Rock at 720-643-2400. 

Mobile Inspection Checklist

  • Original State Sales Tax License
  • Commissary Agreement Form 
  • Lettering three (3) inches high & 3/8-inch wide with the name and phone number on two (2) sides 
  • Food probe thermometer capable of reading between 0°F and 220°F 
  • Refrigerator/hot box thermometer 
  • Hot and cold running water in all sinks 
  • Written menu 
  • Sanitizer test strips (chlorine or quaternary ammonium) 
  • Hand soap and disposable paper towels
  • Restroom Affidavit (if regularly operating for extended times in a fixed location) 

Mobile Food Truck & Push Cart License Fees

  • Full Food Service Mobile Unit: $385 
  • Prepackaged Food Mobile Unit: $270 
  • Plan Review Application Fee: $100 
  • Plan Review Pre-Opening Inspection: $60 per hour