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Sarah Ward

Food Truck Regulations: 12 Rules of Food and Beverage Trucks

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The management of food and beverage trucks takes work and a lot of industry knowledge. The overarching content of this BinWise blog post, all about food truck regulations, goes beyond these regulations and connects with every other aspect of how to open and operate a food truck business. It also ties into customer experience and customer satisfaction.

You’ll want to learn about the best places to start a food truck, the best food trucks, the cost to start a food truck business, and all the types of food trucks you can own. The more you know, the more you’ll feel comfortable with the rules and regulations of running a food and beverage truck. 

You can also dive into guest retention, customer retention strategies, and the facts of customer turnover rate to learn how the management of your food and beverage truck impacts your long-term business success. Read on to keep learning about food truck regulations and how they shape your business. 

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Food and Beverage Truck Regulations

For our breakdown of food truck regulations and beverage truck regulations, we’ve grouped together three sections of the regulations you need to know. From health and safety to zoning to beverage management, these three areas are the main ones you’ll want to be set up with before you announce your grand opening!

Health and Safety Regulations

Health and safety regulations relate to the safety of yourself and your employees, and health and safety around food preparation. These four aspects of health and safety regulations in the food and beverage truck industry cover the basics of what you need to prepare for.

4. Food Worker Cards

Food worker cards cover the majority of your health and safety regulation needs for your employees. Every employee will need a food worker card, or whatever the equivalent is for your location.

3. Certified Food Protection Manager Role

The role of certified food protection manager is typically the owner or manager of the food and drink service business. You’ll need a specific certification to show that you can look after the food safety within your kitchen.

2. Food Preparation and Purchasing Requirements

When it comes to getting food ready to be sold to customers, there are rules you have to follow around where you get the food and how it’s packaged and prepared. Different states have different rules, but overall, buying stock that is from a wholesaler of some sort is the way to go.

1. Water Source Safety

For mobile food and beverage businesses water source safety is imperative. There are regulations around the water you store for cooking and drink mixing use compared to the general water available. Make sure you follow the rules for your locality. 

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Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations are, no doubt, something you’ve heard about as you’ve been planning your food and beverage truck business. Across the country there are different rules around where trucks can operate and what they need to do so. These four aspects of zoning and business regulations cover your bases.

4. Local Business License

When it comes to getting set up with zoning laws and all business specifications, the first thing you need is a general business license. Go through your state’s official resources to file for a food and beverage truck business. 

3. Mobile Food Unit Permit

Separately from your general business license is the need for a license or permit for a mobile food service unit. These needs will vary depending on your location, and in some cases they may be a part of the business license. 

2. Seller’s Permit

A seller’s permit is a part of your base licensing needs but it it often separate from a business license. It gives you permission to sell, and specifically resell things you’ve purchased as a business.

1. Vehicle Registration

Vehicle registration is something you don’t always think about when starting a business, but it’s vital for your food and beverage truck! Make sure you have all your vehicular needs covered as well as the general business needs.

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Beverage Regulations

When you have a focus on beverages, especially alcoholic beverages, there are specific food truck regulations for those menu offerings. These four regulations run the gamut of what you’ll have on your to-do list when you’re getting ready to serve up delicious cocktails and other alcoholic beverages.

4. Beverage Declarations

Beverage declarations are less of an official regulation and more of a common practice in the world of beverage trucks selling alcoholic beverages. When you’re serving up alcoholic beverages, be sure to make the alcohol component easily and boldly known to customers.

3. State Regulations on Liquor Sales

There are states out there that severely restrict where alcohol can be sold and in what quantity. Make sure you look into your state and locality, to make sure of what alcoholic beverages you’re allowed to sell.

2. Menu Preparation In Your Business Plan

Menu preparation in your business plan isn’t just for you, it’s also for the state and beverage control folks to know exactly what you’re serving. When you write up your food and beverage truck business plan, make sure to include everything in your ingredients list.

1. Liquor Licensing

Getting a liquor license holds the number one spot as the thing you must do before you can prepare to sell alcoholic beverages. The rules change from state to state and it can take quite a while, so get these ducks in a row first. 

"Key Takeaway: From health and safety to zoning to beverage management, there are three main areas you’ll want to be set up with before you announce your grand opening."

Frequently Asked Questions About Food and Beverage Truck Regulations

The world of food and beverage truck rules and regulations can seem like a convoluted web to wade through when you first start looking into it. There is certainly plenty you need to know, and with the way rules can change, you need to always be on top of what you need to have to be on the side of the law. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you along.

Can Food Trucks Serve Alcohol?

Yes, food trucks can serve alcoholic beverages in most settings. There are some states and localities with rules prohibiting mobile units from selling alcoholic beverages. There are also limits to which types of drinks you can sell from a food and beverage truck depending on your location. 

While many food trucks can sell alcoholic beverages, it’s best to check out your local regulations. BinWise isn’t a legal advisor, so the advice we can offer is to check your resources and make sure you’re in the legal clear.

What are the Food Safety Regulations on Food Trucks?

The food safety regulations on food trucks include:

  • Having proper food storage with temperature control set up in the truck
  • Maintaining a clean and sanitary workspace for cooking, mixing drinks, and everything in between
  • Having proper ventilation for the truck, to keep your staff safe and the kitchen within safety regulations

Those are some of the main basics. Beyond those, the general idea of food safety regulations in a food and beverage truck is that you need to be able to operate with restaurant-level safety within the confines of the truck.

What are the Requirements to Have a Beverage Truck?

In general, the requirements to have a beverage truck are being in a location that allows liquor to be sold in mobile units, and having the proper licensing and permits. Those include a business license, a liquor license, a seller’s permit, and food handler’s cards for any employees. 

How Do You Start a Mobile Bartending Business?

To start a mobile bartending business, follow the steps of opening a food truck business with the added needs of liquor licensing and bartender training. If you’re a mixologist or bartender already, you’ve got that step taken care of. You could also take a look at starting a catering business, to take your mobile bartender business on the go to different events. 

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Food and Beverage Truck Regulations: Regulate Your Business Every Day 

Learning about food and beverage truck regulations prepares you for anything that might come up down the road of operating your business. When it comes to managing your inventory program and order management as part of your business structure, check out BinWise and BlueCart for solutions.

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