But officer, it was only five baguettes and a couple of flounder I still had in the freezer.
December 31, 2011 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Short version: How many people can I feed at once before I'm legally required to register with some sort of governmental authority?

Among my many other flaws, I am an insatiable learner, particularly about all things culinary. I've been working on some ideas to turn my food obsession into a career. I believe I have an opportunity ahead to make a small splash, but I don't want to unintentionally run afoul of the law along the way.

I don't mind doing the research. I just haven't been able to figure out where to look. Everything points toward *how* to start a business. I haven't yet reached *whether*. "Everything", of course, means "what I was able to find on Google".

I'm an amateur, but I've maintained ServSafe certification long enough to say so clearly, even into the third martini. I'm sure I can keep a safe and sanitary environment. I mostly understand my financial, personal, familial, production volume, and culinary limits. It's just the legal side of things where I just don't quite have a clue.

Particularly with respect to outdoor, temporary, and/or mobile service, how many people can I give meals to in Charlotte, NC without having to register with the local food police? And who might those police be? What if I charge for the food? Are there location restrictions? Food type restrictions? (Charlotte has--maybe had--some anti-taco ordinances.) What of all of that may change come September when the DNC is in town?
posted by phrits to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I believe the answers you seek lie with the staff of the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
posted by SMPA at 6:29 AM on December 31, 2011

Best answer: Oh, and it looks to me like serving food to anyone in exchange for money makes you a "food service establishment" in NC. "Giving" it out seems like it might be a more complicated question (a perfect question for the health department) And unless I'm reading this wrong, you may just have slightly more specific rules if you've got a cart - the number of customers doesn't seem to be an issue at all except for limiting the terms of the permit in question; everyone needs a permit of some kind.
"Food service establishment" means any establishment or operation where food is prepared or served at wholesale or retail for pay, or any other establishment or operation where food is prepared or served that is subject to the provisions of G.S. 130A-248. The term does not include establishments which only serve such items as dip ice cream, popcorn, candied apples, or cotton candy.
(The state code indicates these permits come from the local health department.)
posted by SMPA at 7:18 AM on December 31, 2011

Response by poster: I think that's exactly what I've been looking for, SMPA. Thank you very much. The specific exemption also gives me some direction I had not yet focused. Good stuff!
posted by phrits at 7:35 AM on December 31, 2011

Response by poster: er, specific popcorn exemption. I need more coffee.
posted by phrits at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2011

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