Special Event Safe Food Handling Practices

Permit Requirements

Recognized student groups or campus units must submit a permit application before providing food at an event open to the general PUBLIC (or campus community).  The group or unit assumes responsibility for the proper preparation, transportation, display, and disposal of the food products as outlined below.  If the group employs a licensed caterer to prepare the food, the group assumes the responsibility of being a sponsor and obtaining the necessary application information.

A permit is not required for a PRIVATE event attended only by group members or invited guests.  If you are uncertain as to whether your event is public or private, please call Environment, Health & Safety at (510) 642-3073 for clarification.  If the sponsor of an event is found to be distributing food to the general public without a permit, EH&S will terminate the activity and the operator responsible may be subject to disciplinary action or denied future permits.

The safe food handling practices listed below are intended to reduce the risk of food contamination and foodborne illness.  The greatest risk occurs when unpackaged perishable foods are prepared and served.  Using prepackaged non-perishable foods decreases the risk.  Anyone working at the event must understand and follow these practices.

In preparation for your special event, please read the safe food handing practices listed below. These practices will help to prevent food contamination and foodborne illness.

Food Purchasing and Storage

Food Purchasing

  • Only obtain food from a permitted retail or wholesale food facility.
  • The food facility must be located within a 30-minute drive from campus

General Food Safety

  • A private residence cannot be used for food storage or preparation.
  • Store food, utensils, and similar items off the ground.
  • Adequately protect food from contamination while being transported, stored, prepared, displayed, and served.
  • Keep foods that require time/temperature control (TCS food) below 45°F or above 135°F using proper ice and/or equipment. 
    • TCS foods include: meat, poultry pork, fish, dairy, eggs, tofu, sprouts, cut melon, heattreated plant foods (such as cooked rice or potatoes).

Cold Storage and Ice Usage

  • When cold holding prepackaged food, use an ice bin or chest bin to store the food. 
  • Ensure the food items are submerged in ice so that all sides are covered with ice.
  • If food is prepackaged, do not submerge it in water or ice if the packaging is not fully sealed shut.
  • Protect beverage ice from contamination by keeping it in its packaging inside an ice chest until it is ready to be used.
  • Use a clean utensil or scoop to dispense the ice from the bag.
  • Ice used for refrigeration purposes shall not be used for consumption in food or beverages.

Personal Hygiene

Hand Washing

  • Wash your hands before handling food or utensils.

    • Follow these steps to wash your hands:
      • Step 1: Wet your hands with running water.

      • Step 2: Lather your hands with soap, and scrub for 20 seconds.

      • Step 3: Rinse off your hands with running water.

      • Step 4: Dry off your hands with a clean paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet.

  • Wash hands after:

    • handling money

    • using the restroom

    • handling raw meat, poultry or seafood

    • touching your hair, mouth, skin, or wounds

    • smoking or using tobacco

    • taking out the trash

    • handling dirty utensils

    • using a smartphone

    • touching any surface that contaminates hands

    • after returning from a break

What to Wear

  • All students preparing, serving, or handling food or utensils shall wear hair restraints (like hats, hair coverings, or next) to prevent contamination.
  • Long hair must be tied back.
  • Wear clean clothing.
  • Wear minimal jewelry.

Food Booths

  • Easily accessible toilet facilities should be within 200 feet of the event booth.
  • Live animals are not allowed inside the booth.
  • Anyone who is sick is not allowed in the booth.

Food Preparation and Service

Thawing Frozen Food

  • Thaw frozen food as part of the cooking process at the event, followed by immediate preparation.
  • Thawing frozen food prior to the even in a private residence is not allowed.
  • Do not thaw food by leaving it at room temperature.

Food Preparation

  • Prepare food inside the food booth only.
  • Food preparation must take place and the event site and cannot occur at a private residence or a commercial kitchen.

Cooking Food

  • Barbecue or grilling equipment should be located outside the food booth in an area that minimizes overhead contamination.
  • Thoroughly cook food. The following final cooking temperatures ensure food safety:
Food Temperature
Poultry (chicken, turkey) 165ºF
Ground beef, sausage 155ºF
Steak, pork, and fish 145ºF
Any food being REHEATED 165ºF

Using a Probe Thermometer

  • Provide a clean and calibrated food probe thermometer to monitor food temperatures during storage, cooking, and holding.
  • All student groups are responsible for calibrating their own thermometers.
  • To calibrate your thermometer:
    • Place the thermometer in a cup with plenty of ice and cold water. The temperature should be 32°F after a few minutes in the water.
    • Dial-type thermometers can be calibrated by adjusting the calibration nut under the dial with a wrench or the hexagonal notch in the thermometer holder (if provided).

Reheating Food

  • Any foods being reheated should reach at least 165°F before hot holding or service.
  • Do not attempt to reheat food in a crock-pot, chafing dish, or other hot-holding devices.
  • Any hot held food left over at the end of the day may not be reused the next day.

Preventing Food Contamination

  • Keep raw animal foods separate from any ready-to-eat foods or any foods that will not be cooked.
  • Shield displayed foods from customer contamination (this can be done with a cover or sneeze guard).
  • Use single-use disposable plates, cups, and utensils for customers.
  • All condiments displayed for customer self-service must be either prepackaged, dispensed from a squeeze pump, or pour devices.
  • Use tongs or ice scoops with handles to dispense ice into beverage cups.
    • Store the tongs/scoops outside of the ice bin on a clean surface or in a clean container.
  • Store wiping cloths in a sanitizing solution between uses.
    • To create the sanitizing solution:
      • Mix a gallon of water with a half-tablespoon of "germicidal" bleach that lists sanitizing directions on the label.
      • Be sure to wear a mask, protective eye wear, and gloves before handling chemicals.

Utensil Washing

  • Utensil washing is recommended for any serving utensils that may need cleaning.
    • Provide three large buckets or tubs for utensil washing with a 3-5 gallon capacity.
      • The first container should have soapy water of at least 100°F.
      • The second container should have clear, hot water of at least 100°F.
      • The third container should have sanitizer and water of at least 75°F. Ensure that the correct concentration of sanitizer and immersion time is being used.
  • Utensil washing may not be necessary if extra utensils are available on site.

Waste Disposal

  • Provide an adequate number of trash cans with trash bags.
  • Properly dispose of all trash at the end of the event.
  • Liquid waste (such as dirty water from hand washing) must be disposed into a sanitary sewer and never on the surface of the ground or in a storm drain.

Fire & Life Safety

Items to Get Ready Prior to the Event

  • Obtain a fire permit from the campus fire marshal if any open flame cooking or warming devices will be used, such as: propane, charcoal, Sterno cans, candles.
  • Provide a type A/B/C fire extinguisher in the booth if flammable liquids or gas are used.
  • Have ready a simple first aid kit.

Safety During the Event

  • Keep cooking equipment away from customer interference and two feet away from any flammable materials.
  • Minimize the use of electrical extension cords. Do not daisy chain

Contact EH&S

If you have any questions or concerns regarding safe food handling practices for special events, please contact mrauf@berkeley.edu.

Note: Concession booths that do not demonstrate safe food handling practices may be asked to leave the event immediately.