Food safety guidance for outdoor events

Food safety at outdoor events must never be compromised. Whether your outdoor event is a small fete or a large scale catering event, consideration must be given to ensuring that food produced and sold to the public is safe to eat.

Organisers of outdoor events must give due consideration to the safe production of food and must satisfy themselves that the food businesses attending that event will comply with the requirements of the food hygiene legislation.

If in doubt about what arrangements will be sufficient, the event organiser should liaise with the Environmental Health department. Environmental Health may not attend your outdoor event, but do expect that all businesses attending will comply with the food hygiene legislation.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has produced National Guidance for Outdoor and Mobile Catering (PDF). Organisers of outdoor events should comply with this guidance.

I am organising an outdoor event. What do I need to consider?

The requirements that need to be in place at any event will be dependant upon the nature of the event and the types of food businesses in attendance. Small events, where pre-packaged, ambient stable products (for example, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, breads) are being sold, will not need the same levels of compliance as an event where high risk foods are being prepared.

General guidance is provided below for organisers to consider. Not all of these may be applicable to your event.

Plan in advance

Ensure plenty of time to iron out any problems

Food businesses

Compile a list of all food businesses attending the event, with contact details for the food business operator and details of the types of food they will be preparing on the day

Liaise with the appropriate council departments

Such as Environmental Health, Planning, Highways, Licensing, Cleansing etc and other public safety bodies such as Police, Fire Service, as necessary

Consider the site being used and its appropriateness for outdoor catering

Such as positioning of stalls, access to water, disposal of waste water, disposal of general waste and exposure to the elements

Who will provide the stalls?

Will the organisers provide these or will the businesses be expected to bring their own?

Provision of water

This is essential for events where both raw food and ready-to-eat foods are being handled. Water is needed for cleaning, for hand washing and for food preparation.

Mains water is best. If there is no mains water available, the organisers must ensure some other means of accessing water, for example a stand pipe or water bowser. The organiser may have to liaise with the local provider, Yorkshire Water, to ensure water is available on the day.

Any temporary measures (for example a stand pipe) must be installed by a competent person

Provision of electricity

Some stalls may need an electrical supply. The organiser will need to source a supply of electricity

Safety of gas canisters

Where stalls are using gas to cook, these should be safely installed and secure

Wash hand basins

These are essential for those businesses handling raw and ready-to-eat foods. These businesses must have access to a wash hand basin. It may even be necessary for two, dependant upon the layout of the business. The organisers must let stall holders know if they are responsible for the provision of wash hand basins

Consideration can be given to businesses sharing wash hand basins but the risk of cross contamination between stalls should be assessed.

Where a stall or vehicle is selling pre-wrapped, ambient stable foods (that is, low risk products), alcohol wipes are acceptable as a form of hand washing/sanitiser. This is only acceptable for low risk premises.

Recommendations for food businesses attending an outdoor event

Highlighted below are some recommendations which you may wish to consider when allowing food businesses to attend an outdoor event:

  • The business should be registered with the Environmental Health department
  • The business should have a Food Hygiene Rating of 3 or better 
  • The business should have previous experience of outdoor catering 
  • People who do not normally run a food business can attend one off events, but event organisers must satisfy themselves that the food will be produced safely, hygienically and that it complies with food hygiene legislation. These businesses will not have a food hygiene rating and will not be registered with a local authority 
  • All people working at the food stall should be suitably trained in food hygiene. They should be able to demonstrate good food hygiene knowledge 
  • There must be a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) in place for the business. This should be available at the event. It should specifically address the practices being undertaken at the event

Requirements for different types of business

Low Risk food stalls

In general, where a business is selling products which are low risk, the main considerations for food safety purposes will be that the food is protected from contamination and that there is good stock rotation.

A wash hand basin, whilst preferable, is not essential as long as the business provides alcohol wipes for cleaning and sanitising hands.

High Risk food stalls

These are businesses which will be storing, handling, preparing, cooking and serving food. They may be handling both raw meats and vegetables and ready-to-eat products.

These food businesses will need to comply with all aspects of the Outdoor Catering Checklist that can be downloaded from this page. Event organisers will need to ensure that this is clear to the food businesses. Businesses not complying may be asked to leave the event.

Outdoor catering checklist

This checklist should be circulated to all food businesses attending an event. Not all aspects of the checklist will apply to every business. However, each business should give the checklist consideration.

Should food inspectors attend the event, it will be expected that all high risk food businesses will comply with every aspect of this checklist.

Contact details

Food Safety Section
Department of Public Health
Environmental Health
5th floor
Britannia House

Phone : 01274 437766