Requirements for caterers at outdoor events

Food Business Registration

Food business operators are required to register their food business with their local environmental health department, where their business is based. When our environmental health officers inspect your food vehicle or stall, they will need to know which local authority you are registered with.

Written Food Safety Management System

Proprietors of food businesses are required to identify food safety hazards and risks relevant to their business, and to put in place procedures to prevent problems. You are also required to provide some simple written evidence that your procedures to ensure food safety have been thought through carefully and are being properly applied. You must be able to demonstrate this when asked by an Environmental Health Officer and you should therefore have a copy of your written procedures available throughout the event. For example, a completed Safer Food Better Business pack, or similar documented system.

General Requirements

Food vehicles and stalls must be designed, constructed and maintained in a condition that avoids risk of contamination to food and other safety hazards. Internal surfaces must be easy to keep clean and free from condensation and mould growth. This also applies to all extensions to food preparation, storage and wash up areas.

Preparation surfaces should be in a good state of repair, easy to clean and kept in a clean condition.

Equipment and utensils should be in good condition, cleaned frequently and not be stored on the ground.

Sufficient artificial lighting must be provided if you will be trading during the evening or at night.

Washing Facilities

Sufficient sinks must be provided for the cleaning and, where necessary, disinfection of equipment used on the vehicle/stall. An adequate supply of hot and cold water must be provided. Detergent and sanitisers should be used to clean surfaces, utensils and equipment which come into contact with food.

Cleaning cloths should be replaced frequently throughout the trading period. The use of disposable cloths are recommended.

Where food is washed, a separate sink will usually be necessary.

Wash Hand Basin

In addition to the above, a separate wash hand basin must be provided. An adequate supply of hot and cold water must be available at all times, together with a supply of soap and paper towels, or other means of hand drying.

Plastic bowls are usually acceptable for washing up and hand washing, provided that hot and cold water is always available and bowls are emptied after each use.

Water Containers

You should bring plenty of clean water containers with you and ensure these are filled before you begin trading. Plastic containers which are inadequately cleaned can contaminate water and you should ensure your containers are thoroughly cleaned, for example, by filling the container with a sterilising solution (Milton or similar) and allowing the container to soak (overnight if possible).

Waste Water

You should not let waste water from sinks or wash hand basins discharge onto the ground. Waste water should be collected and disposed of into the foul water system. The same containers should not be used for clean water and waste water.


You should provide refuse bins or bags and ensure that refuse is regularly removed.

Food Handling Practices

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.

Food must be stored and displayed in a way that avoids the risk of contamination. Open food should be covered or screened. Food should not be stored on the floor.

You must have sufficient refrigerated storage to ensure all high risk foods (perishable foods and foods likely to support growth of bacteria, for example, meat and dairy products) are stored at temperatures below 8ºc and preferably below 5ºC. Cool boxes with ice packs may be acceptable for one day events, if appropriate storage temperature can be maintained.

Freezers should be kept below -18ºC. Care should be taken if defrosting food to avoid the risk of bacteria growing. Wherever possible, frozen food should be defrosted in a fridge. Once frozen food has thawed, it should be used, refrigerated, or discarded, but not refrozen.

Cooked meats, meat products and other prepared foods must be kept separate from raw meat and poultry. You should use separate chopping boards/work surfaces and utensils for raw and cooked foods.

You must ensure food is thoroughly cooked before sale. If you use a temperature probe to check the food temperature, you must make sure that the probe is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before each use. The use of food grade anti-bacterial wipes is recommended. You should achieve a minimum temperature at the centre of food of 75ºc.

Once food is cooked, it should be kept hot above 63ºc, or refrigerated to below 8ºc. You should avoid stock piling large quantities of pre-cooked food, for example, burgers.

Personal Hygiene

It is very important that all food handlers wash their hands regularly, and always after visiting the toilet, after smoking or eating, after handling raw meat and poultry, or dirty vegetables, before preparing food and frequently during food handling and service.

All food handlers must wear suitable, clean, protective clothing. For events over one day, you must have enough protective clothing to change it at least every day of the event.


You are not allowed to smoke inside any catering vehicle or stall.


Food handlers should be supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene to a level according to the work they do. It is advisable to bring copies of any training certificates you may have with you.

First Aid

You should have a first aid kit available containing plenty of waterproof dressings (blue if possible).


Before you start trading you are advised to complete the following checklist. This will help ensure that you are fully prepared for the visit from our Environmental Health Officer.

Caterers at Outdoor Events Food Hygiene Requirements Checklist
Question Yes No
Have you registered your business with your local Environmental Health Department?    
Have you got a copy of your written food safety document available?    
Is your vehicle/stall in a condition which ensures food is not exposed to contamination?    
Have you got enough sinks? Are they supplied with hot and cold water?    
Have you got cleaning materials and cloths?    
Have you got enough wash basins?
Are they supplied with hot and cold water, soap and paper towels?
Have you got enough clean, water containers?    
Can you dispose of waste water correctly?    
Have you got bins/refuse sacks for rubbish?    
Have you got adequate chilled and frozen food storage?    
Is the equipment capable of keeping food at the correct temperatures?    
Are raw and cooked/ready-to-eat foods kept separate?    
Have you got a probe thermometer? Can it be properly cleaned?    
Is food cooked to at least 75ºc (and kept hot above 63ºc)?    
Do you and staff have washable, clean overalls?    
Are you and your staff properly trained?    
Do you have a first aid kit?    

Download Outdoor Events Caterers - Food Hygiene Requirements Checklist (PDF: 194Kb / 1 page)

Last updated: Friday, 7 October, 2022.