Preparing and Serving Food

The Office of Risk Management and Insurance is committed to assisting members of the Cornell University community manage the risks associated with preparing and serving food at University events.  A University event is an event that is sponsored by an individual or entity on behalf of the university, or an event that takes place on university-controlled property.

Note: This information is supplemental to that provided in the “Keeping Potluck Meals Safe” document created by the Tompkins County Health Department.  Keeping Potluck Meals Safe

  1. The Tompkins County Health Department may require a Temporary Food Permit at events where food is prepared and served to the public. A Permit will not be necessary for events that are limited to invited guests only.
  2. Label food items that might contain common food allergens such as, but not limited to, dairy, egg, fish, peanuts, soy, shellfish, tree nuts and wheat.
  3. Tables, chairs, electrical cords and water hoses should be setup in locations that do not block walkways or doorways and do not create tripping hazards.
  4. Volunteers should be responsible for serving food to the attendees.
  5. Trash and rubbish containers with plastic bag liners need to be provided for garbage and re-use disposal.
  6. Contact Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) if you will be using burners, hot plates, Sterno or other flames to heat the food.
  7. Ice that is consumed or that touches food should be made from potable water.
  8. Servers should handle all food with disposable gloves and wear hair restraints.
  9. Servers should use serving tongs to avoid cross contact.
  10. Spills should be cleaned-up immediately.
  11. Dispose of leftover food at the conclusion of the event. Do not let attendees take home food from the event.
  12. Dispose of trash and ensure the event space is reasonably clean.