Shropshire Council

Food safety at events

What responsibility does the event organiser have?

Food safety must never be compromised. Food poisoning is at best unpleasant, at worst fatal, but is preventable by planning ahead.

Event organisers have a responsibility for ensuring that any food supplied at the event, by themselves or food traders and caterers that attend, complies with all current food hygiene regulations.

It's important that you plan well ahead and gather the requisite information as detailed in the links below.

Where can I find guidance?

Find out more from the following to help you carry out your duty to comply with relevant legislation:

What records are required?

There's no set format for your information, but records must be sufficient to clearly evidence that you've taken all steps to plan, manage and monitor the event to achieve food safety compliance.

There are some excellent blank templates in the annexes to the Charted Institute of Environmental Health guidance (pages 33 to 54) for outside and mobile catering that can be downloaded and completed, including:

  • Checklist templates
  • Letter templates
  • Contact list templates
  • Food safety advice notes.

What fundamentals should be covered?

We suggest that as a minimum you consider the following aspects within your pre-event planning documentation:

Food safety fundamentals

1. Business details

For all businesses that plan to attend keep a record of

  • Business names
  • Contact details and registered addresses
  • The name of the local authority that the business is registered with and the food hygiene rating score for the business (if they've been inspected)
  • Date of their last inspection
  • Consider too copies of 'Gas Safe' certificates, risk assessments and public liability insurance

2. Registration with the local authority

Consider a policy that all food traders are registered with their local authority. In almost all cases, businesses selling food at events will need to be registered with their local authority and will be able to provide evidence of that they are. Most businesses will have a food hygiene rating, but some new businesses may be awaiting inspection and rating.

3. Rating

Decide on a minimum food hygiene rating for food traders and caterers before they will be considered for your event, eg those rated 3 and above only. Ratings can be checked on the FSA website.

(Note - people who do not normally run a food business can attend one-off events, but you must satisfy yourself that the food will be produced safely, hygienically, and that it complies with food hygiene legislation. These businesses won't have a food hygiene rating and won't be registered with a local authority) 

4. Food safety management system

All food businesses that attend should have this - it will evidence how they're addressing food hygiene at your event (this will include the new allergen labelling requirements).

5. Food safety

Consider the requirements for

Full guidance can be found on the FSA website.

6. Water

Consider how caterers will access a sufficient supply of potable water, either directly from the site or by providing their own supply. Water is needed for cooking, cleaning, and food preparation. Mains water is best.

7. Toilets

Plan suitable and sufficient toilet provisions for use by food handlers, with an adequate supply of hot and cold water, soap, and hand drying facilities.

8. Waste

Ensure that you arrangements are in place for adequate waste disposal.

Please note that if your 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. You can register here.

General health and safety fundamentals

1. Full risk assessment - take a look at the HSE's 'Managing an event' and 'Getting started' pages.

2. Gas and electrical safety

Will caterers be storing fuel, eg gas/electric BBQs and ovens. Storage may constitute a risk, so agreeing safe siting and restricted access is essential. Ask for Gas Safe certificates and PAT certificates.

3. Access

Cooking always carries a fire risk. Consider safe location of stalls, retaining clear access and ensuring that all staff have the contact details for emergency services if needed.

4. Queuing

Food outlets have queues. Consider the effect of access; will a queue block access to other facilities?

5. Naked flames and glass

If your event encourages people to bring their own refreshments your publicity material could stress a no naked flames and a no glass policy.

Further reading

If you have any concerns regarding food or health and safety, please Email and we'll be pleased to assist. Shropshire Council may not attend your event, but we do expect that all businesses attending comply with food hygiene legislation.