How to Keep Cold Food Safe at a Festival & Other Vendor Tips

When serving food at a festival, safe storage, preparation, and sanitization are just as key as what’s on the menu. How do vendor events keep food cold at appropriate temperatures? A refrigerated trailer safely preserves food and prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria. Learn how to keep cold food safe at a festival, as well as other helpful vendor tips to ensure everyone’s well-being.

A Vendor’s Guide: How to Keep Cold Food Safe at a Festival

refrigeration for temporary food vendor

Temporary food vendor tips go beyond proper storage temperatures. Avoiding cross-contamination and maintaining cleanliness is just as essential in preventing illness and enabling your business to continue. We’ll detail some helpful practices and key procedures to keep in mind. But, first, knowing the proper storage temperature is the first step in how to keep cold food safe at a festival.

Tip #1. Temperature For Food Safety (TFS)

For certain foods, safe temperatures for event food storage and service are essential components of preventing bacterial overgrowth and foodborne illness. Temperature for Food Safety (TFS) foods include meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, cut tomatoes, melons, rice, and beans.

how to keep cold food safe at a festival

When keeping TFS foods cold, they must be refrigerated at or below 40℉. Using a mobile refrigerator for festival food storage is generally considered the safest way to maintain this temperature. When serving hot food, it must remain heated to at least 140℉ or above. A dial or digital thermometer should be regularly used to ensure that hot food stays at this temperature.

Tip #2. Avoid Cross-Contamination

Even if you know how to keep cold food safe at a festival, there are other ways for bacteria to spread. If TFS foods like raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs grow harmful bacteria, they can spread it to other items through cross-contamination.

Here’s how to separate TFS foods to avoid cross-contamination:

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for TFS foods. 
  • Keep raw meats, poultry, seafood and dairy away from other foods when grocery shopping. Be sure to store them in separate bags when transporting them.
  • Separate TFS foods from all other items in event food service coolers and make sure they’re properly sealed and contained.
  • Pre-portion or wrap servings so customers can grab them without touching the actual food with their hands.

Tip #3. Keep it Clean

Maintaining cleanliness is key to preventing the spread of bacteria and illness in any setting, particularly at public outdoor events like festivals. Cleanliness pertains not just to cooking supplies and utensils but to employees as well.

Follow these tips to maintain a safe level of cleanliness when preparing and serving food:

  • Maintain surfaces: Food contact surfaces must be regularly sanitized with approved cleansers and wiping cloths.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize utensils: Retain the right provisions for cleansing and disinfecting utensils, dishware and other equipment. This includes a dishwasher or 3-compartment setup for washing, rinsing and sanitizing.
  • Follow proper handwashing procedure: Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Employees should wash their hands before beginning work, after using restroom facilities and upon completion of work. 
  • Only healthy employees should handle food: Those with temporary or ongoing communicable conditions should be kept away from any food service or preparation. Employees should adequately cover any open cuts or sores.

Tip #4. Follow Temporary Food Service Establishment Guidelines

Many of these guidelines cover how to keep cold food safe at a festival as well as how to maintain cleanliness.

safe temperatures for event food storage

Vendors should be aware of the following points that summarize the temporary food service establishment guidelines:

  • Food prep: TFS foods should be limited to 6 items, with no slicing, dicing or cutting required.
  • Employee hygiene: For short-term vendors (under 96 hours), handwashing stations must be supplied with containers of hot and cold water and paper towels. Longer-term situations must have permanent hot and cold running water. Employees should wash hands frequently to ensure cleanliness.
  • Utensil washing and sanitizing: Vendors must have a dishwasher or 3-compartment system for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing utensils. This includes proper wiping cloths and methods for disposing of wastewater.
  • Food storage and handling: Maintain proper cold and hot storage of TSF foods. Employees should never touch food with their bare hands or come to work with a communicable illness. Condiments should always be distributed in single-serve packets or from sanitary dispensers.

Tip #5. Rent a Refrigerated Trailer

Wondering how to keep food at safe temperature for event vendors? Refrigerated trailers are the most reliable option. These mobile units provide refrigeration for temporary food vendors via consistent electrical access, maintaining a proper food storage temperature of 40℉ or less. They also provide the space necessary to prevent cross-contamination of foods.

Are you in need of proper refrigeration for your next festival appearance? Cold Star provides a wide variety of refrigerated trailer rentals for every vendor’s needs. Call today to schedule your delivery!

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