Food Trucks, Trailers, and Carts

Click HERE for the 2024 RAGBRAI Food and Beverage Guide

Mobile Food Unit- means a food establishment that is self-contained, with the exception of a grill or smoker (located outside the unit and used for cooking), and readily movable, which either operates up to three consecutive days at one location or returns to a home base of operation at the end of each day.

Pushcart- means a non-self-propelled vehicle food establishment limited to serving non-potentially hazardous foods or commissary-wrapped foods maintained at proper temperatures or pre-cooked foods that require limited assembly, such as frankfurters.

Click on the Gray Tabs for additional information on:

Laws and Regulations
• Iowa Food Code and FDA Food Codes

Basic Requirements
• Information on the basic requirements of operating a Food Establishment in the State of Iowa

• Retail Food Service Establishment license application

Food Manager Resources
• Guidance documents for running your Food Establishment

Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) Requirements

HACCP/Special Processes Requirements

  • Completed license applications and documents must be submitted to the appropriate Regulatory Authority at least 30 days prior to the anticipated opening date.
  • A separate license must be applied for at each location where food production, sales or service take place.
  • A license is non-transferable between locations or ownership.
  • Once the application, other required documents and fees are received and processed, the Department will review the documents.  Once the application is processed the applicant will be mailed or e-mailed the assigned inspector’s contact information.  The applicant is responsible for contacting the inspector to schedule a pre-operational inspection.
  • Plan submission is required; the Department will review the plans and communicate the results of the plan review to the applicant. Plan reviews generally take 3 to 4 weeks. It would be beneficial to submit the application prior to beginning construction, remodeling, or alteration of a facility. There is no fee for plan review. Please note, failure to provide all required information could delay plan approval. If you are remodeling a licensed facility already owned by you, submit plans only and notify your inspector.
  • Operating without an approved license and inspection may result in penalty fees of double the amount of the annual license fee.


 Please check the Regulatory Authorities map to determine the appropriate food inspection and licensing agency for your area.

Only individuals who will be operating a food establishment under the jurisdiction of the Department of Inspections, Appeals and Licensing (DIAL) should submit their license application and corresponding fee(s) to DIAL at the address below.  All other applicants should mail their license application and fees to their local regulatory authority.


For information on License Application Fee Refunds click here:  IAC 481.30.3(2)

If your food establishment is licensed and inspected by the DIAL’s Food Safety Bureau, send your application and fee(s) to the address below:

Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing

Food Safety Bureau

6200 Park Ave

Des Moines, IA 50321


Food Safety Guidance documents for Mobile Food Unit Managers can be found HERE.

What is the Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) requirement?

  • FDA Food Code 2-102.12 requires that the Person in Charge of a Food Establishment, including mobile food units, be a certified food protection manager who has shown proficiency of required information through passing a test that is part of an accredited program.

Code 2-102.12(A) does not apply to certain types of Food Establishments deemed by the REGULATORY AUTHORITY to pose minimal risk of causing, or contributing to, foodborne illness based on the nature of the operation and extent of FOOD preparation.

Additional information regarding CFPM exceptions:


A “Variance” is required, and should be requested, when the Retail Food Establishment has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that does not meet the requirements of the Iowa Food Code or FDA Food Code

An “Approved Variance” is a written document issued by the Regulatory Authority that authorizes a modification or a waiver of one or more requirements of the Iowa Food Code or FDA Food Code.

Specailized Food Processes- HACCP

The following document outlines the 2017 FDA Food Code requirements regarding food produced in Retail Food Establishments using special processes such as curing, smoking for preservation, acidification, reduced oxygen packaging, sprouting seeds, etc.

Blank HACCP Forms