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 above for additional information on:
Laws and Regulations
• Iowa Food Code and FDA Food Codes
• 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
Laws & Regulations
Resources- Iowa Law
Resources- Iowa Administrative Rules
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.
Only individuals who will be operating a food establishment under the jurisdiction of the Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) should submit their license application and corresponding fee(s) to DIA 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 481.30.2(2)
If your food establishment is licensed and inspected by the DIA's Food and Consumer Safety Bureau, send your application and fee(s) to the address below:
Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals
Food & Consumer Safety Bureau
Lucas State Office Building
321 East 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0083
Food Manager Resources
Food Safety Guidance documents for Mobile Food Unit Managers can be found HERE.
Iowa requires Mobile Units to have at least one employee that has supervisory and management responsibility, and the authority to direct and control food preparation and service, to be a Certified Food Protection Manager who has shown proficiency of required information through passing a test that is part of an Accredited Program.
On-line courses are available, but testing for most courses must be done in person at a testing site.
For in person classes, contact your local County Extension Office to inquire about available courses, OR
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
The following document outlines the 2013 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.
Additional Information and Resources