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Home > Food from Farm to Table > Food Safety > Minnesota Food Code Fact Sheets > Food Cart

Food Carts

A food cart is a food and beverage service establishment that is a nonmotorized vehicle self-propelled by the operator. All food carts must be operated in compliance with the Minnesota Food Code.

Plan Submission

Plans and specifications must be submitted to the regulatory authority for review and approval at least 30 days before beginning the construction of a food cart. The plans must include:

  • The intended menu.
  • The anticipated volume of food to be stored, prepared, and sold.
  • The proposed layout, mechanical schematics, construction materials, and finish schedules.
  • The proposed equipment types, manufacturers, model numbers, locations, dimensions, performance capacities, and installation specifications.
  • Detailed information on any custom fabricated equipment.
  • Detailed information on plumbing, water supply and waste disposal.

Prior to allowing the cart to operate, the regulatory authority must conduct a pre-operational inspection to verify that the cart is constructed and equipped according to the plans. Please notify them of your intention to open at least 14 days prior to opening.


License applications and fees must be submitted to the regulatory authority prior to operation.

Location and Construction

  • Locate cart away from possible contamination sources.
  • Carts located indoors must not be located on carpet.
  • Carts located outdoors must be equipped with an easily cleanable, detachable awning or umbrella to prevent adulteration of food.
  • The cart must meet NSF International Standard No. 59 for Food Carts.
  • Except for cleaning and supply, the operation must be accomplished entirely from a single self-contained unit.
  • Electrical service must comply with Chapter 1315.
  • A fire extinguisher with a minimum 2A 10 B C rating must be present if required by the fire marshal.
  • Gas hook-up and service must comply with Chapter 1346.

Food Sources

All foods, beverages and ice must be obtained from an approved commercial source. Any food preparation or food storage done off site, must be accomplished at a licensed food establishment. Food cannot be stored or prepared in a home.


  • All equipment used in this operation must meet applicable NSF International food service equipment standards.
  • A mechanical exhaust system must be provided for a cart used indoors when grease laden cooking vapor, condensation, fumes, obnoxious or disagreeable odors, or smoke are generated in the cooking process.
  • All food carts designed for cooking grease laden foods must be equipped with an approved fire protection system.
  • Accurate temperature measuring devices must be provided in each refrigeration unit containing potentially hazardous foods, and for monitoring internal food temperatures.
  • Single service disposable utensils must be provided for eating and drinking purposes.

Dishwashing Facilities

If the cart is not provided with a three compartment dishwashing sink, then multi-use food preparation, service, and dispensing utensils must be returned to a permanent food establishment each day for cleaning.

Handwashing Facilities

If food is prepared at the cart, then a handwashing device supplied with hot and cold running water, soap, nail brush, and paper towels must be provided.

Water Supply

When water is required for the food cart operation, the following requirements must be met.

  • Hot and cold running water must be supplied under pressure or by gravity with a mixing faucet.
  • Water must be obtained from an approved public water supply system. Water cannot come from a residential well.
  • If direct plumbing is not installed, water tanks must be provided which are easily cleanable, of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the operation, and constructed of an approved non-toxic material. The water inlet must be protected from contamination and be designed to prevent attachment of a nonpotable service connection.
  • Hoses used to obtain water must be of food grade quality and provided with an approved backflow prevention device.
  • If used, the water tank, pump, and hose must be flushed and sanitized before being placed into service after construction, repair, modification, and periods of non-use.

Waste Disposal

  • If direct drainage lines are not provided, the cart must be supplied with a liquid waste holding tank which is sized 15 percent larger in capacity than the water supply tank.
  • Liquid wastes must be removed in such a way that a public health hazard or nuisance is not created. Waste water must be discharged into a sanitary sewer or other approved sewage treatment system.
MDA Contact

Dairy & Food Inspection Division