Prevent Unpermitted Food Vending in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) works to safeguard public health and ensure food provided to consumers is safe, unadulterated, and honestly presented, by regulating the food sold or distributed to the public.


Who are the unpermitted food vendors?

Unpermitted food vendors are people who are selling/peddling food on a cart, truck, trailers, table, from the trunk of cars, or from their home WITHOUT a permit to operate from the Department of Environmental Health.

Vendors who sell/peddle ONLY prepackaged non-potentially hazardous foods and whole, uncut produce at a display less than 25 square feet are exempt from obtaining a permit to operate from the Department of Environmental Health.


What are some health concerns associated with unpermitted food vendor sales?

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • No handwashing on site
  • Don’t know where the food was purchased
  • Food is not kept hot and left out all day
  • Food may be prepared in a dirty home kitchen, in the garage, in a backyard, or outside
  • Food stored or prepared on the floor and on unclean surfaces
  • No food safety training to people who handle the food
  • Food is undercooked
  • No refrigerators to keep food cold
  • Unsafe cooking equipment
  • No restrooms
  • Sick employees preparing food
  • Chopping food using dirty knives or cutting board                           
  • Insects, mice or rats in the home 






Where do unpermitted food vendors sell?

  • From the trunk of a car or the back of a truck
  • Roaming door to door in the neighborhood
  • On street corners and parking lots with a table and cooking equipment set up
  • From unpermitted homes; dining room, garage, or backyard (i.e. underground dining)
  • Outside stadiums after a sporting event, concert, or show


How do I know if these food sales are permitted with Santa Clara County?

A permit decal (sticker) is visible on their food cart, food truck or trailer.

If the permit expires, it is no longer valid until the owner obtains a new permit. Permits from another county are legal in their own county but not in our county unless the decal is from Santa Clara. 









Who should I notify if I suspect someone is selling food without a valid permit (home, cart, truck)?

If you know of a vendor or suspect a vendor who is selling their food without a permit, contact the Department of Environmental Health at 408-918-3400 or send us an email

Please provide us the following information:

  • Day and time the food is being sold.
  • The location including cross streets if no address available
  • The type of food sold and how (on a cart, truck, trailer, street corner, from the trunk of a car, under a tent, at a home)


Protect your family

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Keep you and your family safe by being Smart and Eating Safe!

The Department of Environmental Heath protects the public by inspecting facilities to ensure the food is being safely prepared at your favorite restaurant, grocery, truck, and cart. Our goal is to prevent the public from becoming ill with a foodborne illness (sometimes called "foodborne disease," "foodborne infection," or "food poisoning”). Avoid eating from unpermitted food vendors and report them to the Department of Environmental Health.

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