General Information for Both MFUs and PCs

Commissary and Permitting    What is a commissary? Why do I need one?

  • The commissary is an important element in operating an MFU or PC, providing support in all aspects of their operation, and is thus required to have a valid food service permit issued by the Local Health Department. However, not every commissary owner may agree to support an MFU or PC in every aspect, such as providing chemical sanitizers or dry goods storage. If this is the case, the MFU or PC owner must provide these elements themselves, and this will be evaluated on an individual applicant’s application as needed. 
  • If a proposed commissary does not have a valid food service permit, then the MFU or PC application will not be processed. A private residence cannot be used as a commissary, and will not be approved for storage of any food, equipment, single-use articles, dry goods, etc. This is the purpose of the commissary, and will be evaluated during plan review.
  • If the MFU or PC applicant proposes their own commissary, then a separate Food Service Application must be submitted, approved, and permitted before MFU or PC operations can occur.
  • For MFUs ONLY: If an MFU owner proposes to operate as its own commissary, then the MFU itself will be required to meet all requirements of a permitted commissary. This means that adequate services must be provided for all provisions per the Commissary Agreement, including, but not limited to: servicing area location, continuous electrical supply, water supply, wastewater disposal, storage of all of dry goods, chemicals, utensils, equipment, food (including refrigeration needs), employee belongings, refuse and garbage disposal, and tools needed for MFU maintenance and cleaning. A minimum 3-compartment sink will also be required, and one conveniently accessible and permanent toilet facility will also be required. If the above items are stored in a permanent building, then this building may qualify as a commissary, and thus be subject to permitting.
  • Push Cart owners cannot operate as their own commissary.
  • MFUs or PCs that were permitted in another North Carolina county or another state do not automatically receive a new permit from Pitt County Environmental Health. 
  • Pitt County Environmental Health cannot recommend any commissary location. It will be responsibility of the owner/operator of the MFU or PC to secure a commissary location.


  • Permits, if issued, shall be maintained on the MFU or PC at all times for Regulatory Authority verification. Any authorized agent of NC Department of Health and Human Services or Local Health Department can, and regularly do, perform verifications of operators, and reserve the right to do so.
  • The list of locations, dates, and times that the MFU or PC operations must be kept current.
  • An MFU or PC may work in a county that did not permit it. However, the Local Health jurisdiction for the particular county must be informed of the food service operations prior to conducting operations in their jurisdiction. 
  • Commissaries must be visited at least daily for resupply, servicing, cleaning, water refill, solid waste and wastewater disposal.

Menu and Food

  • All food must come from approved sources. Sources will be evaluated during plan review and inspections. All food is subject to requirements of the NC Food Code with respect to protection, prevention of contamination, temperature, or time controls. If raw animal foods are served raw or undercooked, then the menu must have required Consumer Advisory information. 
  • Food should be prepared at the commissary such that minimal to no food preparation is required during food service. This includes washing and cutting all produce, processing raw animal foods (cutting, deboning, marinating, portioning, etc.). Performing these activities reduces water consumption, and potential cross-contamination during operations. If an MFU or PC handles food with raw ingredients, then a hand sink will be required on the unit.
  • A metal stem thermometer shall be available for checking food temperatures. Thermometer must be accurate at least within 2°F, and shall have a sufficient range to read food temperatures (0°F -220°F).
  • Single-service articles must be used for customers, and shall be purchased in sanitary containers.

Water and Sewer

  • Water faucets used for supplying water to the MFU or PC shall be protected prevent contact with chemicals, splash, and other sources of contamination. 
  • Toilets are not required. If working in certain areas for long time periods, this will need to be accounted for in your planning of where to work.
  • All sinks must drain to the wastewater tank.
  • All hand sinks are required to have soap and a method to dry hands. Consider what type of combination of sink, soap dispenser, and towel dispenser will be needed to easily locate all three in the same location.
  • Water tanks, pumps, and hoses shall be flushed and sanitized with appropriate sanitizer before being placed into service, as well as after construction, repairs, modifications, and periods of nonuse. This will require mixing a solution of appropriate level of food-safe sanitizer and distributing it through the pumping system. After sanitizing air drying is recommended, or flushing with clean potable water to prevent sanitizer residue from being distributed onto food and equipment areas.
  • If any of the water or wastewater tanks and pipes are located outside of the mobile food unit, then careful consideration should be given to protection from conditions that may cause damage, such as road debris, low road curbs or shoulders, uneven surfaces, freezing weather, and other conditions.


  • The Person-In-Charge must maintain a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certification. Approved courses to meet this requirement can be found at the following link: (CLICK HERE). While this does not prevent permitting, it will impact the grade during an inspection. 
  • Having an Employee Health Policy is essential for an owner, person-in-charge (PIC), and employees to understand important diseases that are transmissible through food, and when you and your employees are required to report certain diseases and conditions to your local Health Department. Having knowledge of this policy is critical, and written copies kept with you on the MFU of PC at all times helps to reinforce it.   


  • Equipment used for food service operations is required to meet accredited construction standards as established by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Toasters, mixers, microwave ovens, water heaters and hoods are exempted. If equipment is not certified, then it must be evaluated for the same standards to provide assurance that the equipment will reliably function during food service operations. 
  • Equipment must be used as the manufacturer intended. For example, a refrigerator that is designed to store only packaged drink bottles cannot be used to store food. These requirements will be reviewed during the plan review process. 
  • Equipment that is labeled or indicated by the manufacturer for domestic purposes will not be approved. This is often indicated as “Household Use Only”, which can often be found either on the equipment label, or in the manufacturer’s instruction booklet. If you cannot find this information, or are unsure, it is recommended to contact the manufacturer regarding this use requirement before purchasing.
  • Equipment must be installed to either allow for cleaning, or be sealed in an approved manner to prevent accumulation of soil or harborage of vermin.


  • It is highly recommended that construction not begin until the MFU or PC application has been received and approved. If construction has been initiated, prior to application submission, then work should be stopped until the final plan approval has been issued. Any construction that has been completed, and does not meet requirements, must be corrected in an approved manner before a permit issuance. If the MFU or PC is already built, then submit pictures of the inside and outside of this unit that will accurately represent the unit. If needed, then further documentation may be requested during the review process.