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.

Food Purchasing and Storage

  • Obtain food only from a permitted retail or wholesale food facility.
  • A private residence cannot be used for food storage or preparation.
  • All food, utensils and similar items shall be stored off the ground and adequately protected from contamination while being transported, stored, prepared, displayed and served.
  • Keep potentially hazardous food (PHFs) below 45ºF or above 135ºF during storage, transportation, and display.  PHFs include meat, poultry, pork, fish, dairy, eggs, tofu, sprouts, cut melons, and heat-treated plant foods (e.g. cooked rice or potatoes).
  • Provide adequate refrigeration for the cold storage of food.  Mechanical refrigeration equipment or ice chests may be used. 
  • Provide a sufficient supply of ice for cold storage.
  • Protect ice used in beverages from contamination and maintain it separate from ice used for refrigeration purposes.
  • Provide adequate equipment for keeping hot food hot (above 135ºF) if the food will be held for an extended time prior to service.

Personal Hygiene

  • Minimize bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food.  Use disposable gloves, tissues, tongs or other utensils whenever possible.
  • Provide a hand wash station with at least 2-3 gallons of potable (drinkable) water that has a turn or pull-out valve to allow free-flowing water such that both hands can be under running water at the same time.
  • Provide large bucket underneath wash station to collect waste water.
  • Provide liquid soap in a pump-dispenser and also paper towels.
  • Wash hands before handling any food or utensils.
  • 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 trash
    • handling dirty utensils
    • talking on the phone (including cell phones)
    • touching any surface that contaminates the hands
    • returning to the booth after a break
  • Wear clean clothing.
  • Minimize jewelry and confine hair.
  • Conveniently accessible toilet facilities should be within 200 feet of the event booth.
  • Anyone who is sick should not be allowed in the booth or to handle food or utensils.
  • Animals are not allowed inside the booth.

Food Preparation and Service

  • Keep cold food cold and hot food hot until ready for preparation or service.
  • Wash hands before handling food or utensils.
  • Thaw frozen food in a refrigerator overnight, or thaw it under cold running water in a food preparation sink for no more than two hours.  Do not thaw food by leaving it at room temperature.
  • Prepare food inside the booth only.  Barbecue or grilling equipment should be located outside the booth in an area that minimizes overhead contamination. 
  • Thoroughly cook food.  The following final cooking temperatures ensure the food is safe to eat:
Food Temperature
Poultry (chicken, turkey) 165ºF
Ground beef, sausage 155ºF
Steak, pork, and fish 145ºF
Any food being REHEATED 165ºF
  • Provide a clean and calibrated food probe thermometer to monitor food temperatures during storage, cooking, and holding prior to service.  Digital or dial-type thermometers are inexpensive and available at most stores where food or utensils are sold.  Digital thermometers often don’t need to be calibrated, but dial-type ones do.  Place the thermometer in a cup with plenty of ice and cold water.  The temperature should be 32ºF after a few minutes in the ice-water.  Dial-type thermometers can be calibrated by adjusting the calibration nut under the dial using a wrench or the hexagonal notch in the thermometer holder (if provided).  The campus sanitarian can provide more information (642-3073).
  • Any foods being reheated should reach at least 165ºF before hot holding or service.
  • Do not attempt to reheat food in a crock-pot, chafing dish or other hot-holding device. Hot-holding equipment is not designed to reheat food quickly. It takes too long to reheat the food and allows bacteria to grow.
  • Hot food left over at the end of the day may not be re-used the next day.
  • Protect food and utensils from contamination at all times. 
  • Keep raw animal foods separate from foods that will not be cooked or are ready-to-eat.
  • Shield displayed foods from customer contamination (e.g. covers or sneeze guards).
  • Use single-use disposable plates, cups, and utensils for customers.
  • All condiments displayed for customer self-service shall be prepackaged or dispensed from squeeze, pump, or pour devices.
  • Use tongs or ice scoops with handles to dispense ice into beverage cups.  Store the tongs/scoop outside the ice bin on a clean surface, or in a clean container.
  • All wiping cloths must be stored in a sanitizing solution between uses. A half-tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water makes a good sanitizing solution. If this is not done, cloths can transfer bacteria from one place to another.  Use “germicidal” bleach that lists sanitizing directions on the label.

Utensil Washing

  • Provide two large buckets or tubs (3-5 gallon capacity) for utensil washing.  The first container shall have soapy water; the second one a sanitizer solution with one-capful of bleach for every gallon of water in the container.  The buckets or tubs must be large enough to wash the largest utensil.
  • Non-profit booths may substitute the bucket utensil wash method with a sufficient supply of extra utensils.  It is strongly recommended to always have a utensil wash set up anyway.

Waste Disposal

  • Provide an adequate number of trash cans with trash bag liners.  Properly dispose of all trash at the end of the event.
  • Liquid waste (e.g. dirty water bucket for 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

  • Provide a type A/B/C fire extinguisher(PDF file) in the booth if flammable liquids or gas are used.
  • Provide a simple first aid kit.
  • Locate cooking equipment in a safe area outside the booth that minimizes customer interference.  Keep cooking equipment 2 feet away from any flammable booth or canopy material.
  • Minimize use of electrical extension cords and protect electrical lines from water and thoroughfares.
  • Secure CO2 tanks and other pressurized tanks to prevent tipping.  Chain them to a stationary object.

Concerns about complying with any of these practices should be directed to the EH&S campus sanitarian at (510) 642-3073.  Concession booths that do not demonstrate safe food handling practices may be asked to leave the event immediately.