Health Department Questions
Q: Do I need approval from the local Health Department authorities?
A: Yes. Very likely. Check with your local Health Department. They may be listed on the city’s website. Get the details on the local health code requirements. There may be an initial inspection fee on your cart. See the section Getting Health Department Approvals as well as the subsections Health Department Links and Health Guidelines .
Q: What does NSF certified mean and does my hot dog cart need it?
A: NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that develops standards for food service equipment manufacturers and provides third-party conformity assessment services for these food service equipment manufacturers. The NSF has developed standards for American hot dog carts.
To have NSF certification means that NSF has assessed and certified the conformity of the equipment with the appropriate NSF and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards.
Part of the certification process is to have the equipment production facility audited annually so as to ensure that all the relevant standards continue to be met.
For hot dog carts, this means that the materials used in construction are nontoxic, corrosion and heat resistant, and any coatings are tested for durability and abrasion resistance. In addition, the equipment has demonstrated that it can attain and maintain appropriate temperatures for reheating food in a prescribed time. Also, temperatures indicating devices used are verified to be accurate.
Your local Health Department may specify that your hot dog cart must meet NSF standards. Or they may not.
Hot dog carts come under NSF/ANSI Standard 59 for Food Carts.
Q: Can your hot dog carts serve pre-cooked chicken or ribs?
A: Yes. However, your local county Health Department may not allow this. Canadian and American hot dog cart operators follow very strict health guidelines. They may not allow vendor carts to serve what they classify as hazardous pre-cooked meats which often include pre-cooked chicken or pre-cooked pork ribs. Check with your local Health Department first before planning to serve such items.
Q: Can your hot dog carts cook raw steak, chicken or pork?
A: Yes. However, your local Health Department may not allow this. They may not allow vendor carts to serve what they classify as hazardous uncooked meats. This definition often includes raw or frozen chicken, raw or frozen beef, raw or frozen pork, and ground meats. As mentioned in the previous FAQ question and answer, Canadian and American hot dog carts often must conform to very strict local guidelines. Check with your local Health Department first before planning to serve such items.
Q: Where can I get instructions on how to operate my WillyDogs cart so as to meet all the Health Department guidelines?
A: The Operations Manual Section of this guide has some good suggestions in plain language on how to meet the general guidelines of most health departments including washing and sanitizing the cart and in safely serving food. Each city or county health department will have their own set of rules that they will make available to you. Ask them for clarification if any parts are not clear to you.
Q: Does the cart have hot and cold running water?
A: Yes. Most of the carts are completely self-contained with hot and cold running water. Check the specifications page for each individual cart at willydogs.com. Click on the picture of each cart for more details and specifications of equipment included with each cart.