Food Service Establishments

Plan Review for Food Service

Plans for food service facilities, other than “franchise” or “chain” establishments, must be submitted to the local health department for approval prior to beginning construction of a new establishment or prior to making changes to the food service area of an existing establishment.


Plans submitted to Carteret County Environmental Health must include:
  • A completed Carteret County Environmental Health food service permit / plan approval application including a plan review fee
  • Menu
  • Equipment, plumbing, and lighting layouts
  • Equipment specifications, such as make and model numbers
  • Information on private well and septic system, if applicable

Chain Establishments

Plans for “franchised” and “chain” establishments must be submitted to the state along with a state plan review application.

Plan Review

Plans are reviewed in accordance with the North Carolina Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food Service Establishments 15A NCAC 18A .2600. Please see the plan review guidelines for more information. Other agencies such as local building inspection departments and North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation may also require plans.

Transitional Permits

An existing food service establishment that changes ownership may apply for a transitional permit if the existing establishment has a valid permit. A transitional permit allows a food service establishment to operate for 180 days until the establishment is in compliance with the current state rules and can obtain a regular permit.


The establishment is evaluated to see if a transitional permit can be issued and a list of items that need to be brought into compliance is given to the owner. The owner must complete these non-compliant items within the period specified by the transitional permit.


Transitional permits automatically expire and cannot be extended or renewed. It is important to complete the items on time to prevent closure of the establishment.

Request a Permit

To request a transitional permit, contact the Carteret County Environmental Health Division to set an appointment for a site visit and complete a food service permit / plan approval application.

Temporary Food Establishments for Festivals & Events

Temporary Food Service Establishments (TFEs ) means "a food establishment that operates for a period of time not to exceed 21 days in one location, affiliated with and endorsed by a transitory fair, carnival, circus, festival, or public exhibition. Food establishments that operate in the same event location for more than 21 days per calendar year are not eligible for a TFE permit. Domestic yard sales and businesses such as auctions, flea markets, or farmers' markets are not eligible for a TFE permit."

Permissions & Application

TFEs must be permitted before food can be prepared or served. Temporary Food Service Establishments must complete and submit a temporary food establishment application to the Health Department no fewer than 15 calendar days prior to the event. Permitting of Temporary Food Service Establishments is in accordance with the North Carolina Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food Service Establishments 15A NCAC 18A .2600 SECTION .2651 and .2665 through .2669.


Please note that nonprofit and political organizations are exempt from TFE permit requirements if food is only prepared and sold for two consecutive days or less during any one month period. The Health Department should be notified when exempt organizations intend to sell food to the public so that the department will be aware of these food handling activities.

Push Cart & Mobile Food Units

Push carts and mobile food units must operate in conjunction with a permitted establishment such as a restaurant, food stand, or commissary. They are issued food service permits through the local health department that permitted the restaurant or commissary from which the pushcart or mobile food unit is to operate.

Requirements & Permit

The Health Department serving the county where the pushcart or mobile food unit intends to operate must be informed of the times and places the business will be open. A Food Service permit / plan approval application and a Push Cart and Mobile Food Unit Servicing Operations Approval must be submitted to apply for a pushcart or mobile food unit permit. Push carts and mobile food units are permitted in accordance with the North Carolina Rules Governing the Food Protection and Sanitation of Food Service Establishments 15A NCAC 18A .2600. See sections .2670, .2671, and 2672.

Limited Food Service Establishments Concession Stands

A Limited Food Service Establishment (LSFE) operates only in conjunction with an athletic event with food prepared and served by volunteers. This includes school and park concession stands run by parents and other volunteers. The LSFE must be in compliance with the North Carolina Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food service Establishments.

Permit Application

An LFSE permit application must be submitted to Carteret County Health Department at least four (4) weeks prior to initial construction or commencement of operation for the year.

New Construction & Renewal

New construction must also go through plan review and approval before construction. Permits expire on December 31 of each year. Due to this, some sports, such as basketball, may require a new permit early in January during the rest of their season.