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Events with Food

Important Notes

Selling or giving away food at festivals or events can sometimes pose a bigger risk to food safety than traditional restaurants, because the more the food is handled or transported, the greater the risk of bacterial contamination. Below are policies you need to follow in order to maintain food safety standards.


  • Health requirements. All sales or distribution of food and beverages must comply with Santa Clara County Health Requirements and the State of California tax law (e.g. sales tax must be collected and remitted to the State of California)
  • Temporary event permit. Please contact the Santa Clara Health Department to obtain a permit to operate a temporary event. The permit establishes the event location as the "place of business" and assures that the food handling, preparation and serving practices are compliant with local health codes.
  • Food booths. All food and beverage booths must be constructed with a floor, ceiling and four sides. Exception: Only unopened, pre-packaged food or beverages are handle  OR unpackaged, pre-portioned foods are stored in food compartments with tight-fitting lids or access doors. No food handling, such as slicing or scooping, may be conducted.
  • Follow safe food preparation practices. For catered events, most food is prepared ahead of time at a restaurant and then transported to the event. All food must be cooked to the recommended temperatures in order to maintain safe food temperatures.
  • Transporting food. Both hot and cold foods need to be kept at the appropriate temperatures when being transported to the event location. The only way to assure hot foods are kept hot and cold foods cold while in transit is by using insulated food carriers.
  • Time as a Public Health Control (TPHC). Potentially hazardous foods may be held at room temperature for a short period of time using TPHC. When using TPHC, the food must be cooked and served, served if ready-to-eat or discarded within four hours from the point in time when food is removed from temperature control (grill, refrigerator, oven, etc.) Food must be properly marked with a  time indicator. Review the guidelines.
  • Provide extra protection for outdoor events. For outdoor catered events, wind, flies and other vermin are potential hazards. The best way to protect against these dangers is by covering all displayed food, throwing all waste in a waste container with a lid, using wind guards on windy days and setting the food tables up underneath a tent.
  • Separate display ice and beverage ice. At all times, ice that is used to chill food or beverage bottles needs to be kept separate from ice that goes into drinks. Display ice can pick up bacteria and other contaminants from the items it comes into contact with, which can in turn contaminate beverage ice and a customer's drink.
  • Follow acceptable cash handling procedures. You must charge sales tax if you are selling food yourself. Consult with ASSU banking for details. If you arrange for an off-campus entity to provide the food they must have a current food license and tax ID number.
  • On-Site Cooking is not permitted.
  • Cooking Food Yourself. Food prepared in a private home can not be offered for sale.
  • When is a permit not required?
    • When selling non-potentially hazardous foods in unopened, original manufacturer’s packaging, such as: bag of chips, box of oreos, wrapped candy bars.
    • Donated food can qualify if you receive 100% of food including beverages from for-profit food facilities receiving no monetary benefit.  Please complete the forms for the Craven Act Exemption.  Submit all Craven Act form, a copy of your VSO's tax exemption letter, and a cover letter describing your event to the Department at least 2 weeks before your event.  Once all required information is submitted and approved, a Craven Act exemption letter will be generated and sent to you.
  • Will an inspector come to look at my booth? An inspector might visit all food booths to make sure that food is being handled safely. They may or may not issue fines however, they will expect corrections to be made when necessary and may close your booth temporarily until it is considered safe.



Food Safety Temperatures





Food MUST be thoroughly cooked to required minimum internal temperatures Food MUST be quickly re-heated before placing in a warming unit ALL potentially hazardous foods MUST beheld either COLD or HOT

165°F Poultry, stuffed meats, and other stuffed foods

157°F Ground beef (hamburger)

145°F Fish, eggs, and pork

165°F Required re-heat temperature for ALL potentially hazardous

45°F for ALL potentially hazardous
Cold potentially hazardous food or beverages MUST be maintained at or below 45°F

135°F Hot potentially hazardous food or beverages MUST be
maintained at or above 135°F