This page is intended as a practical guide for food traders and other stall holders operating at events, festivals and outdoor concerts in the UK. Even if you have traded at an event, festival or concert in the past, it is important that you read this to enable you to trade successfully at events, festivals and concerts in the future. Not all the information provided here will apply to every event, it is intended as general guidance only.
Many of the festivals in the UK run for several days on isolated green-field sites with primitive sanitary facilities and limited mains services. Because of this, catering operations can be dramatically affected by the weather conditions, if it is hot, it will be extremely dusty and if it is wet, the whole site may become a mud bath. Electricity is available to caterers on most sites, although you must agree in advance with the organiser if you want to be connected to the site supply.
The demands on caterers are great as most people are confined to the site for the duration of the festival or event. It is essential that all caterers arrive fully equipped to cope with the conditions on a festival site and that they are capable of securing a high standard of hygiene, whatever the weather conditions.
Should food inspectors visit to inspect your stall and find that a high standard is not maintained you will be stopped from trading immediately and probably prosecuted. You and your stall may also be removed from the site by the organiser's security teams. You should already be aware of the hygiene regulations. This guide aims to be a useful summary of these requirements.
At most events, festivals and concerts you will not be allowed to start trading until you have had your Fire Safety Permit and your Food Safety Permits (issued by the Event Organisers) properly signed by the Event Safety Officer and Event Fire Officer or other nominated official. You are required to have the following certificates and information available for inspection at all times, they must be current (in date):
- Electrical Safety Inspection Certificate
- Portable Appliance Test Records
- Gas Safety Inspection Certificate
- Food Hygiene Certificates
- Public/Employers Liability Insurance
- A record of temperature readings for fridges
- Conformation of Registration with your Local Authority
- Fire Extinguishers must be currently “in test”.
You must identify all steps in your food handling activities that are critical to food safety and you must then ensure adequate safety controls are in place, maintained and reviewed to control the food hazards. This is a legal requirement and you must be able to demonstrate compliance when asked by a food control officer.
Registering your business You must register your food business premises with your local authority regardless of how often you trade. This is a legal requirement and you could face prosecution if you fail to do so. Hazard Analysis You must identify all steps in your food handling activities that are critical to food safety and you must then ensure adequate safety controls are in place, maintained and reviewed to control the food hazards. This is a legal requirement and you must be able to demonstrate compliance when asked by a food control officer.
The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 requires proprietors of food businesses to put in place “food safety management procedures” based on the principles of HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point).
You must also:
• Keep these in place permanently
• Keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures
• Review your procedures if you change what you produce or how you work In practice, this means that you must have procedures in place to manage food safety “hazards” in your business.
This is similar to previous legal requirements, but now you must write these procedures down, update them as needed and keep records that can be checked by a food safety officer. These procedures will be proportionate to the size of your business and the type of work you do. Very small businesses may have very simple procedures and simple records.
What is HACCP?
HACCP is a way of managing food safety. It is based on putting in place procedures to control hazards. It involves:
• Looking closely at what you do in your business an what could go wrong
• Identify the “critical control points” – these are the areas you need to focus on to prevent hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level
• Putting in place procedures to make sure hazards are controlled at your critical control points
• Deciding what action you need to take if something goes wrong
• Making sure that your procedures are working
• Keeping appropriate records to show your procedures are working
Remember there are packs available “Safer Food Better Business” produced by the FSA to help you put these procedures in place. Additional information is available from your own local authority food safety team. Training All food handlers must now be instructed/supervised or trained in food hygiene matters to a level according to the work they do. Basic Food Hygiene Certificates must be clearly displayed on each stall or unit.
All food handlers must now be instructed/supervised or trained in food hygiene matters to a level according to the work they do. Basic Food Hygiene Certificates must be clearly displayed on each stall or unit.
You are required to hold the relevant Employers and Public Liability Insurance: evidence that you have the required insurance may be asked for so the required certificates should be displayed on each stall or unit.
It is unlikely you will be connected to a mains supply, although water standpipes should be available on site. Plenty of clean and wholesome water must be available at each food stall. Please clean your water containers before you come to this site, both inside and out. A chlorine-based sterilant, for example 'Milton', should be used. The containers must have tight fitting lids and must be used only for water.
The supply of water on festival sites can be intermittent, so allow for adequate storage. You should also bring your own water sterilising tablets with you. These are available from most chemist shops.
Remember, you won't be connected to any drains. Waste water points should be available in the market areas, however waste water is heavy and you will need to carry it some distance to these points. You will need containers for waste water collection.
Please bring plenty of refuse sacks to last the duration of the festival. Refuse must be regularly removed from the food stall in sealed bags and stored tidily to await collection from the catering area. Catering and customer areas must be kept clear of litter. You are required to keep the area around you stall in a clean and tidy condition, you may be required to pay a deposit to the festival organises who will refund it provided you fulfill your duty in this respect.
All food preparation and food storage areas must be protected from the weather. Tents and marquees must be weatherproof, waterproof, fireproof and in good repair. Where food is prepared next to the walls, these must be lined with polythene sheets or other non-absorbent washable material so they can be cleaned.
Allow plenty of space for cooking areas. Food storage should be separate from cooking and preparation areas. No one must be allowed to sleep on the food stall. You must bring alternative sleeping accommodation. Makeshift structures made from wood poles and plastic sheeting are usually not permitted. Tents and marquees must be purpose made. Makeshift constructions will probably result in your business being stopped from trading immediately.
The floor areas around sinks, food preparation and cooking ranges must be level, clean and washable and, where possible, non-slip. Be prepared for wet weather when a floor covering should also be provided in serving areas. Dirty cardboard or pallets won't be accepted. Experience has shown that the most successful flooring is plastic tarpaulin material stretched and pegged securely down before anything is put onto it. If the weather is very wet you will need a purpose built floor raised off the ground in food preparation areas. A washable covering must be provided over this floor. If you cannot keep mud out of food preparation areas then you may be closed down. For trailers or raised stalls with wooden floors, an impervious, non-slip, washable floor covering must be provided.
The washing of equipment at water supply standpipes will result in the closure of your business. Washing up must be done in a proper sink. Washing up areas outside tents and stalls must be protected from the weather.
You should have proper sinks which drain to a collection point outside the stall. Washing up bowls alone are not sufficient. Draining board facilities should be provided where possible. These must not be made of wood. If you have large pans you need an even larger sink to wash them in. You must always have plenty of clean, hot water available for washing up and cleaning surfaces. Large hot water boilers must be provided for this purpose and sited so that they are level and stable. Crockery, cutlery and other food preparation equipment must be washed with a detergent/steriliser. Again, remember to bring an adequate supply.
Separate food preparation sinks will be needed in addition to wash up sinks. If this is not practicable, large clean plastic bowls may be used for vegetable washing. These must be kept clean. Drying facilities will be needed. Tea towels must be clean and changed regularly. These must not be placed over your shoulder!
Hand Washing Facilities
Hand washing in sinks used for food or washing up is forbidden by law, so separate facilities must be provided. If possible, supply a purpose made unit with hot and cold water storage facilities; alternatively, a separate plastic bowl is acceptable provided that hot and cold water is always available at the hand washing area. Bowls must be emptied after use. Hand wash facilities should be located near to the food preparation and cooking areas. Bactericidal soap, towels and a clean plastic nailbrush must be kept at each bowl. A large, clear notice reminding food handlers to wash their hands must be displayed.
Food Storage and Refrigeration
Poor temperature control and cross contamination of bacteria from raw to cooked or ready-to-eat foods, are the most common causes of food poisoning. Both can be easily avoided.
To comply with the Temperature Control Regulations you must have enough refrigeration to ensure that all high risk foods (i.e. perishable foods or those likely to support the growth of bacteria) are stored at temperatures below 8° C and preferably below 5° C. NEVER store high risk foodstuffs overnight on the stall or in the back of unrefrigerated vehicles. If high risk foods are found above 8° C they may be seized and destroyed.
Food to be kept at or below 5° C
- Soft cheese
- Cooked meat
- Cooked products containing meat, fish, eggs and vegetarian substitutes, cheese, cereals, pulses or vegetables which are eaten without further cooking or reheating
- Smoked or cured fish
- Cut or sliced smoked or cured meat
Food to be kept at or below 8° C
- Cream cakes
- Meat, fish or vegetable pies and pasties
- Sausage rolls, spring rolls
- Dairy desserts
- Sandwiches or rolls containing meat, fish, eggs, soft cheese etc.
You should not use freezer units as refrigerators by turning them on and off. Freezers should be kept at below -15° C. Refrigerators must be kept at below 8° C and preferably below 5° C.
You should monitor your refrigerated food temperatures regularly, i.e. at least three times a day, using a digital probe type thermometer. A record of these temperature readings should be kept in a log book which should be available for inspection.
Please note that the Regulations require refrigeration for vegetarian foods as well as for meat. You must keep cooked meats, meat products and other prepared foods separate from raw meat, poultry and vegetables. Make sure you have separate trays, knives and other utensils for raw and cooked foods. Use different coloured chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.
Store vegetables, salads, bread, etc, away from the cooking area. Make sure they are raised off the ground. Keep tinned and packet goods dry and tidily stacked. Ensure you have enough food storage containers to put packet goods into once opened. Don't store food outside, in direct sunlight or where it may get wet or damp.
Protection from Contamination
All open foods that you have on display must be kept covered or protected by screens. Foods awaiting cooking must also be kept covered wherever possible to discourage flies and wasps. Raw and cooked food must be kept apart at all times. Ensure that all food is properly cooked before sale. Once frozen food has thawed it should be used, refrigerated or discarded but not refrozen.
Once food is cooked it should be kept hot above 63° C or refrigerated to below 8° C. If you are to sell cans of drink cooled in water baths you must use proper clean water containers, fresh water which is changed regularly and you should maintain a free chlorine content in the cooling water. See the instructions on your sterilant container, e.g. Milton (see section on Water Supply).
All tables and worktops must be solid and stable. Surfaces on which food is prepared or stored must be smooth, washable and non-absorbent. If plastic or other sheeting is used, it must be strong enough to prevent tearing and be fixed or pinned to the tables. Never use timber provided for firewood etc to construct tables, worktops or any other part of the stall. This will almost certainly result in you being closed, reported for legal action and possibly being removed from the site.
Any other wood must have a smooth finish and be properly sealed with gloss paint or a clear varnish. Any firewood provided on a site is provided for the camping areas. It is far more dangerous to have fires in the market areas because of the restricted space and the amount of liquid gas. Do not have bonfires or camp fires in the market areas.
Food Preparation and Cooking Equipment
Please make sure all your equipment is properly cleaned, in good repair and is fit for use before you come to this festival. Legal action will be taken when faulty or dirty equipment is found.
Cookers, tables, fridges, etc, must be on a firm and level base. All cooking pots, utensils, etc, must be clean and in good condition. They must be stored off the ground and under cover.
If you are going to bring any machinery to be used for cutting, slicing or mincing,etc, these must be properly guarded to prevent any injury to the operators. Remember, no-one must be allowed to use these machines unless they are properly trained and instructed on how to use them safely.
Accommodation for Clothing
Clothing and other personal effects must not be left lying around the stall. Secure accommodation where these can be safely stored should be provided.
You must display your name and contact telephone number in clear view of your customers at the servery. The lettering or any such notice should be at least 1.5 inches i.e. 35mm, high on a contrasting background. We appreciate your concerns about security of your home base whilst you are away, that is why most events now accept a contact number and do not require a full address.
Personal hygiene when handling food on this site is extremely important. Food handlers must wash regularly. If you have been to the Festival before you will appreciate that the sanitary facilities on site are primitive and are heavily used. It is recommended that you bring your own washing facilities and, in order to prevent a catastrophic spread of infection, it is imperative that all food handlers wash their hands after visiting the toilets and again before handling any food or equipment. After washing your hands you should use an alcohol based sterilant on your hands. These sterilants can cause dry, split skin with prolonged use, and they are not to be regarded as substitute for proper hand washing.
If you are proposing to take on casual staff to help you with the catering at the Festival, make sure that they are familiar with the regulations, particularly those which relate to food handlers themselves and personal hygiene. It is now a legal requirement that all staff must be supervised, instructed or trained in food hygiene matters to a level which is commensurate with their job.
Anyone who handles food must wear clean protective overalls. These must be changed daily, or more frequently if they become dirty. Hair should be covered. People with long hair must keep it tied back. In wet weather the site becomes extremely muddy and all measures must be taken to prevent mud entering the food preparation area. Adequate changes of footwear for outside and inside the food preparation must be provided.
You are not allowed to smoke inside the catering stall. If you wish to smoke, leave the stall and wash your hands before returning to handle food or serve customers.
Cuts, Burns and Illnesses
Keep cuts, etc, covered with a proper waterproof plaster or dressing. Food poisoning germs can be passed from wounds to food. If any food handler starts suffering from diarrhoea, sickness or a sore throat, they must stop working with food immediately and tell the person in charge of the business. They should then tell the local Environmental Health Officer. You should be able to do this by telling your Market Manager who will pass the message on. Any food handlers who have been unwell should not work again until cleared by Environmental Health Officers. Don't cough or sneeze over open food or drink. Anyone suffering from a cough or cold should not handle food.
NB: some festivals and outdoor concerts are held at the height of the hay fever season. Sufferers should not handle food if they are badly affected.
Jewellery of any kind should not be worn by food handlers.
Eating and Drinking
Food handlers must not eat or drink on the stall, except in areas which are provided for seating for customers. Children should be kept out of catering areas.
All animals are banned from most event, festival and concert sites. Problems have been experienced in the past with dogs at festivals and most organisers do not allow dogs or other animals onto the site. If you have a pet, please do not be tempted to bring it to an event with you but make alternative arrangements to leave it safely at home.
Noise is often a very sensitive issue. At most large festivals your vehicle will be searched on arrival by site security to assess any amplification equipment that you may have brought with you. Any unauthorised equipment may be confiscated on arrival for the duration of the event.
Even if you have written permission from the festival organiser to play music you must comply with a request to turn off, or reduce the volume of, your system by Environmental Health Officers, Market Office staff, Safety Officers and Advisors or Security. If you do not comply with this request your equipment will be seized. Most festivals require a License, which states noise levels measured at the boundary of the site. This level is set to ensure there is the minimum of disturbance to the local residents.
The following items are banned from most festival sites, festival visitors may not be admitted with these items, they are also banned from sale on site by traders.
- Any weapon or anything that may be construed as a weapon
- Glass containers
- Styrofoam containers
- Alcohol & Drugs (other than prescribed medication)
- Wax Flares and candles
- P.A. systems and amplification equipment
- Fireworks & Flares
- Disposable Barbecues
- Kites and Balloons (due to over head power lines across some sites)
- Dogs, cats and other domestic livestock, may be impounded and taken to local kennels and catteries etc, you will be expected to pay any expenses incurred in doing so.
- Plastic spoons and cutlery, if broken and discarded those pose a serious danger to the sheep that live on some sites when your not here.
- Aerosol Klaxon Horns
- Cans with removable ring pulls (Some events do not allow cans of any description).
- Skin piercing and tattooing are not allowed to take place on most sites.
Health and Safety General
If you employ 5 or more people, (including proprietors and Directors) you are required by law to produce a written health and safety policy which your staff must read, understand and follow. The written policy must:
- State your general policy on health and safety
- State who is responsible for carrying out the policy
- Be revised whenever appropriate
Further information and advice on compiling a safety policy can be obtained from STAGESAFE.
If you employ 5 or more people, (including proprietors and Directors) you are required by law to produce written risk assessments for the risks to your workers, and any others who may be affected by their work activities.
An assessment of risk is a careful examination of what in your work could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. The aim is to make sure no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Further information and advice on the undertaking or risk assessments can be obtained from STAGESAFE.
Any accident to your staff involving a fracture, amputation, loss of consciousness or admission to hospital must be reported at once to the Local Authority. Any accident to a member of the public which results in admission to hospital must also be reported. All accidents must be reported in Accident Book that you business must hold as well as to the festival or event organiser.
You must have a proper First Aid Kit on each stall and all food handlers and staff must know where to find it. The kit must contain plenty of waterproof dressings (blue if possible), bandages and protective finger stalls.
You must consider that staff will need to take rest breaks. Many stalls are open from 9 or 10am right through to the early hours of the morning, with some staying open 24 hours a day at some events. Staff will also require somewhere to sleep. It is not advisable to allow staff to sleep in the stall itself, and staff sleeping above the stall is not permitted. Safe storage facilities should also be provided for staff to keep their personal belongings in for the duration of the festival or event.
Gas Appliances/Gas Cylinders
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) has caused many accidents on festival sites in past years which have resulted in severe burns and people being rushed to hospital a long way from the sites. Please ensure that your equipment meets the requirements gas equipment since Safety Officers will probably prohibit the use of unsafe equipment. You are not likely to be able to obtain spares to rectify faults once you reach a festival site.
All gas operated equipment must be checked by a competent CORGI registered gas fitter who is authorised in the use of LPG and be issued with a Safety Certificate BEFORE you arrive on a site. Please bring all your Safety Certificates on site.
Barbecues and grills must be screened to prevent the public and workers being burnt by them. If they are not you will be stopped from trading. At most festivals it is a site license condition that the amount of LPG stored and in use on each stall must not exceed the amount which can reasonably be expected to be used by that stall in 24 hours normal trading.
Daily deliveries of LPG are available on some sites at competitive prices. Do not bring large amounts of LPG onto the site. Your stall may be inspected to see how much LPG you have. Excessive amounts may be removed from your pitch.
You must arrange with the organisers in advance to be connected to an electrical supply. All electrical equipment and wiring must be properly insulated and earthed. All electrical wiring, sockets and plugs, unless specially adapted for outdoor use, must be protected from the elements.
NB: This is a legal requirement for YOUR safety. Portable generators must not be used on site. They are usually banned by the organisers for safety reasons.
You MUST read the guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and you must have all your equipment and the stall checked by a NIC-EIC approved electrician before you arrive on site. You will be expected to have a current certificate for your stall and equipment signed by a qualified electrician.
If your electrical wiring is checked on site and found to be defective you will be immediately stopped from trading and disconnected from the site electricity supply.
Unless shown otherwise, the maximum speed limit on most sites is 5mph. Vehicles must be in a safe condition and drivers fully insured. Passengers must not be carried on vehicles not designed or equipped to carry passengers. Unless authorised by the event of festival organisers you will not be permitted to move vehicles on site once the gates have been opened to the public. Authorisation will only be given in an emergency situation, collections and deliveries of stock are not considered emergencies.
Do's and Don’ts
- Be prepared for all types of weather
- Make sure you are prepared before you arrive
- Have your permits signed before you start trading
- Bring plenty of clean water containers
- Have a suitable floor and/or floor covering
- Have large enough sinks
- Have enough refrigeration
- Refrigerate foods
- Wash your hands
- Check your gas cookers and cylinders
- Guard barbecues and grills
- Have your electrical wiring checked before you come
- Start trading until you have had your permits signed
- Build makeshift tents
- Wash up at water supply stand pipes
- Use firewood to build stalls or equipment
- Work with food if you are ill
- Bring dogs onto the site
- Bring mobile generators
Other General Issues
Be prepared. We would like to stress that it is important that you bring sufficient items for a festival with you as access to and from the site may be difficult once a festival is underway.
If you are thinking of tattooing, ear or body piercing or acupuncture in addition to your main business - DON'T. Skin piercing is not allowed on most sites and if you are found carrying out any of these practices you will be asked to leave the site.
Be careful when you are handling stock. Do not lift loads that are too heavy, ask a friend to help you.
Please make sure there are no tripping hazards in and around your stall.
Appendix A - Safety in the Use of Gas Applicances/Gas Cylinders
No heating or cooking appliance is to be installed inside a tent or stand which is not especially laid out for the purpose.
Appliances must be fixed securely on a firm non-combustible heat insulating base and surrounded by shields of similar material on three sides. The shields must be at least two feet (600mm) away from combustible materials and care must be taken to ensure that no combustible materials can be blown against the apparatus.
All stands using gas cylinders are to be checked by a GAS SAFE registered gas qualified fitter to ensure the apparatus us safely installed.
All cooking appliances should be provided with a 5 kilogram dry powder extinguisher and fire blanket.
All cylinders should be located outside premises in the open air. Only cylinders using pressure release valves should be used. Gas cylinders should be properly secured in the upright position.
All cylinders should be located away from entrance, emergency exits and circulation areas.
Fixed piping is to be used where practicable. However, if flexible tubing is used it should be suitable for its purpose, i.e. to the appropriate British Standard and, where appropriate, provided with mechanical protection to minimise damage. Tubing should be secured by crimped clip or similar hose clip (not worm driven) and be gas tight. When no required, gas supply should be isolated at the cylinder as well as at the appliance.
Replacement cartridges for portable gas appliances should be fitted in the open air away from sources of ignition.
Combustible materials should be kept at least 1.5m away from gas cylinders.
Appendix B - Fire Authority Requirements
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to any workplaces on the site, which includes marquees, stages and stalls etc. where people are employed to work. This places the responsibility of Fire Safety in the workplace on the employer, it is an offence not to comply with any of these provisions.
All employers on the Festival Site must conform to these Fire Regulations. You must:
- Carry out a fire risk assessment of your workplace.
- Record any significant findings of the assessment
- Take action to ensure that the workplace is safe and that anyone working in or visiting can escape safely in the event of fire.
It is hoped that the above guidance will help you to prepare for attending festivals. Please remember that failure to comply with the regulations can result in prosecutions being taken and heavy fines, and you will not be asked back again.
We would like to stress that it is important that you bring with you sufficient equipment and items for the festivals you attend as access to and from festival sites is often difficult once the festival is underway.