Guidelines for Safe Food Handling at Student Events

EHS offers information and training for students handling food at campus events. Online courses are available for students through the Training Center under Food Safety. 

Click the links below for more information on specific aspects of safe food handling. 

Hand Washing and Hygiene

Good personal hygiene must be followed by those handling or serving foods:

  • Hair properly restrained (baseball hat, headband, scarf, etc.)
  • No use of tobacco or eating while handling or serving foods
  • Remove jewelry
  • Wash hands
    • Hand washing facilities, including warm water, soap and disposable paper towels must be readily accessible for all those who are handling food.                                         
    • If your event is being held outdoors, and you do not have access to handwashing sinks:
    • Alcohol hand gel with at least 60% alcohol can be used in place of running water, soap and towels, if food served can’t support the growth of harmful organisms that can cause food-borne illnesses.
      Examples:  Alcohol gel can be used for hand hygiene at food events that serve items that don’t require refrigeration, such as pretzels, popcorn, bagels,  s’mores, hot beverages, baked goods

If food is being prepared by students or food must be kept hot or cold after cooking, a handwashing unit, with clean water, soap and disposable towels must be available.  Units can be rented through Building Services .

Contact EHS if you have questions about your outdoor event and the need for hand washing units.

Potentially Hazardous Food

Potentially hazardous food (PHF) means any food which consists in whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, rice ,fish, shellfish, edible crustacean, raw-seed sprouts, heat-treated vegetables and vegetable products and other ingredients in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of microorganisms.

  1. All potentially hazardous food should be kept below 41oF (for cold foods) or above 135oF (for hot foods) except during necessary preparation time or a short display period. Hot or cold holding equipment may be required to store and display food during an event. A food thermometer is also required if potentially hazardous foods will be served.
  2. Dispose of any food remaining at the conclusion of the event.
  3. Do not handle or prepare food for others while experiencing gastrointestinal disturbance symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea) and for two-to-three days after symptoms subside.  Students handling foods must be free of the following symptoms: fever, severe sore throat, chills, cold or flu-like symptoms, open cuts or sores.
  4. Gloves must be worn when handling food.
  5. Keep a small bucket with at least one gallon of water with 1-2 tablespoons of bleach on hand for utensils that might need to be sanitized during the event.
  6. If hand washing facilities are not readily available, you may need to rent a portable sink from Building Services.  See section on Hand Washing.
  7. All food and paper products (cups, napkins, etc.) should be kept off the ground, especially during outside events.  Make sure you have plenty of cups and utensils to avoid sharing.
  8. Ice must be purchased from an approved source and protected from contamination.
  9. Do not provide drinks or ice that are self-serve from a common source, such as a punch bowl or community ice bowl.   Provide pitchers or bottles and cans.
  10. Trash containers must be provided for both the food servers and attendees of the event.

Preparing Food For an Event

  • Purchase food from approved sources, such as grocery stores that are licensed by the health department.   Do not use home-processed foods, except if preparing baked goods such as cookies and cakes that do not need to be refrigerated for a bake sale.  Never use home canned goods.
  • Food must be prepared and stored in a licensed kitchen.  
  • Meet with representatives of EHS and Princeton Regional Health Department to review your temporary food service permit.
  • Keep potentially hazardous foods* cold (below 41o F) or hot (above 135oF).
  • Preparation of meat dishes or other potentially hazardous foods a day ahead of time is strongly discouraged because such procedures have frequently contributed to foodborne illness.
  • Thawing of foods must not be done at room temperature.  Thaw under refrigeration, in a microwave oven or as part of the cooking process.
  • Foods that are to be reheated prior to service must be heated quickly to a minimum of of 165oF and held above 135oF until serviced.  Sterno is designed to hold foods hot, not to reheat to a temperature of 165oF.
  • Cook these meats,  or foods containing them,  to the indicated minimum internal temperatures:

    • Pork                                   145oF
    • Poultry                                165oF
    • Ground beef, meats, fish    155oF





Purchasing Food from a Restaurant or Caterer

  • All foods must be prepared by a food facility that is licensed and has received a Satisfactory rating from a regional health department within the last 12 months.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain a copy of the Health Certificate.

  • Food should be transported as quickly as possible, and not until just prior to the commencement of the event.

  • Food should be transported in a clean vehicle and covered or wrapped during this period to protect it from contamination and to maintain its temperature. It is highly recommended that the food vendor deliver the food.

  • Food should be covered when displayed for public access or kept in a manner such that contamination or handling from the public cannot occur.

  • Keep potentially hazardous foods cold (below 41o F) or hot (above 135o F). You may not use sternos or steam to reheat a dish that has been delivered cold and is to be served hot.

  • Food must be served within an hour of delivery to the event site.