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Event Planning: Food Hygiene and Safety

If food is being supplied at your event, either by yourself or by other food traders, you are advised to contact our Food Safety Team for their advice. Guidance below outlines some things to consider when providing food to the public.

If this event is occurring on an annual basis where foodstuffs are provided to the public the event may be required to be registered as a food business operator.

Apply for food business registration »

Whether providing your own catering or using food traders consideration should be given as to hygiene and waste disposal provisions, ensuring that:

  • There are suitable and sufficient toilet provisions for use by food handlers, with an adequate supply of hot and cold water, soap and hand drying facilities.
  • Arrangements are in place for adequate waste disposal (see Waste Management)
  • Caterers have a sufficient supply of potable water, either directly from the site or by providing their own supply (see Water Supply at Events)

Use of Food Traders

As the event organiser you have a responsibility for checking that the food vendors are suitable and for submitting the correct information on the traders to the Local Authority. When using food traders at your event, the following information should be obtained before your event from each of the food vendors:

  • The Business Name and Registered Address of the Business
  • The name of the Local Authority that the business is registered with.
  • The Food Hygiene Rating Score for the business (if they have been inspected)

A food business must be registered with a Local Authority and will normally have been inspected by the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department and given a Food Hygiene Rating, to indicate their level of compliance with food hygiene legislation.  We advise that you check their Food Hygiene Rating Score, to ensure that the food businesses have a good level of compliance (a rating between 3 and 5).

Event organisers are strongly advised to provide the above details of the event caterers to the Events Safety Advisory Group. It is vital that the information is received within a sensible time frame so that there is sufficient time for officers to review the information appropriately.

Providing your own catering

The following points offer guidance on the critical controls to be put in place to prevent food poisoning and contamination:

  • Food handlers should be supervised, instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity. Normally we look to see that the person overseeing the preparation of food has a Level 2 food hygiene qualification (previously known as the Basic Food Hygiene Certificate). Trained persons can then oversee and supervise all persons preparing foodstuffs and cascade food hygiene training. Food hygiene courses are available on-line or from providers offering a classroom environment.
  • The following checks are carried out by food handlers before and during the event and whilst the foodstuffs are being prepared (including if undertaken within someone’s home):
    • Visual checks of cooked food are made, along with random spot checks using a probe thermometer to obtain the core temperatures of the food. We advise that core temperatures of the food should reach at least 75oC and recommend that spot checks using a probe thermometer are documented. Probes should be disinfected between each use.
    • Food storage temperatures e.g. fridges/freezers/cool boxes should also be checked and documented; (Fridge temperatures should be maintained between 0-8oC. Freezer temperatures should be maintained at -18 oC and below.)
    • Hot water, soap and hygienic hand drying materials (e.g. paper towels) should be available for hand washing purposes of the food handlers during the event and located so that they are immediately available in the food handling areas. Note: antibacterial gel for use on its own would not suffice.
    • Anti-bacterial spray along with hot water should be used to clean down food preparation work surfaces. Effective cleaning is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria and stop them spreading to food. Disinfection can be used to destroy bacteria from surfaces. However, chemical disinfectants only work if surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned first to remove grease and other dirt. To ensure effective disinfection there is a two-stage process:
      • Use a cleaning product to remove visible dirt, food particles and debris, and rinse to remove any residue
      • Apply disinfectant using the correct dilution and contact time, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and rinse with water.
    • Separate tongs, chopping boards and other equipment should be available for handling raw and cooked foodstuffs.
    • Separate containers/cool boxes should be used to ensure that raw foods are separated from cooked foods.

(Please note: all of the points raised above should be highlighted in the event risk assessment).

If you require further advice on any of the above points or any other food safety matter please contact our Food Safety Team.

Food and Drink Health & Safety Considerations

If you are having any barbecues or similar, there might be hazards from the use or storage of fuel.  Please seek advice from the DDC Regulatory Services Public Protection Team.

Cooking facilities in general have a higher risk of fire so their location is an important aspect to consider.  You should consider how the emergency services would reach an area where there was a fire, will any fire have an effect on escape routes or exits, how close the fire is to other flammable or ignition sources and whether there would be lots of LPG cylinders stored close to the cooking.

Food outlets often have queues so have a think about whether a long queue would interfere with other attractions, circulation routes and exits.

If traders are using gas appliances, these should be tested annually and have a Gas Safe certificate.

It is advised that you obtain a copy of their Gas Safe certificate, risk assessment and public liability insurance.

Make sure that any hot food traders at your event, provide you with copies of their risk assessment, £5 million of public liability insurance, their registration documents and their food hygiene certificate.  Speak to Environmental Health for more advice.

Food poisoning is at best unpleasant and at worst extremely hazardous to health, particularly for older people or young children. It is preventable by following some simple rules and planning ahead. When using professional caterers, ensure they are registered under Food Safety Regulations and ask for written evidence. Caterers must have received some training in food hygiene that should ensure that they are providing and preparing food that is safe. This applies even if food is being given away. 

You should ensure that consideration is given to the following points:

  • Provision of an adequate supply of free drinking water
  • The use of Liquid Propane Gas (for Catering Installations)
  • Electrical Installations
  • Fire Fighting equipment
  • Alcohol and bar areas
  • Effects of using or bringing glass on site

Where it is proposed that patrons bring their own refreshments, publicity material should stress no naked flames, as this may present a fire hazard.

You may wish to consider implementing a glass policy in relation to effects of attendees bringing glass on site.