Glastonbury 2023 kicks off next week and heralds the start of a summer jam-packed with music festivals and events. This year audiences will be treated to headline performances from Arctic Moneys, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Sir Elton John on the famous Pyramid Stage. But it’s not just about the entertainment – there are hundreds of food stalls across the 900 acres site selling everything from hot dogs and burgers to gourmet street food.
Most common types of food poisoning at festivals
Large gatherings and temporary food set-ups can increase the likelihood of food-borne illnesses. The five most common are:
Most people associate Salmonella with eggs and poultry, but it is also found in raw and undercooked meat, unpasteurised dairy products and fruit and vegetables.
Escherichia Coli (to give it its full name) can cause severe food poisoning . It is typically transmitted through undercooked minced beef, contaminated water and contaminated fruit and veg.
Campylobacter infections are commonly caused by cross-contamination and insufficient cooking temperatures. This is another bacterium that is generally associated with chicken and other poultry.
Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread like wildfire at festivals as it thrives in crowded conditions with shared facilities. Contaminated food and water as well as poor hygiene practices can contribute to Norovirus outbreaks.
Listeriosis is caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium and is extremely unpleasant. Those infected experience high temperatures, nausea or vomiting, chills, aches and pains and diarrhoea. It is most likely to be caused by consuming ready-to-eat foods such as cold meats, soft cheeses etc. and is of particular concern at festivals as it can even survive in refrigerated environments.
Show festival-goers you’re serious about food safety
To guard against any potential food poisoning events, it’s essential for food stallholders to prioritise proper food handling and hygiene practices. If you’re a caterer lucky enough to secure a pitch at this year’s festivals, ensure you maintain a high standard of food safety at your stall at all times.
If you have a good Food Hygiene Rating, display it prominently. It will give your customers confidence that not only do you prepare tasty, satisfying festival food, but you are committed to preparing and serving food which is safe.
(Image source: Food Standards Agency)
How to prepare and serve safe food from a kiosk or stall
In a kiosk or stall, your working space will be limited, so it’s important to follow some simple food hygiene rules. Let’s start with personal hygiene. Over the course of the festival you’re almost certain to encounter revellers who haven’t been near a shower or facecloth for days. However, personal hygiene is of utmost importance when you’re preparing and serving food for public consumption. So:
- Ensure all staff wear clean and protective clothing, such as aprons
- Tie back long hair and cover with caps or hairnets to avoid hair coming into contact with food.
- Use disposable gloves when handling food to prevent direct contact and minimise the risk of contamination or wash hands regularly
- Remove gloves before handling money or engaging in non-food related tasks
Keep it clean!
- Don’t stack food containers on the floor, ensure they are in plastic bags or dry cardboard boxes
- Clean and sanitise all utensils and equipment thoroughly between each use, especially when switching between raw meat and other food items.
- Wipe down and sanitise surfaces regularly
- Try to use individual sauce sachets instead of bottles. If you do use bottles, clean them regularly.
- Keep the tray for cutlery and stirrers clean
- Place waste food in tightly tied plastic bags and dispose of them in the appropriate lidded waste bins
Keep food at the correct temperature to avoid food poisoning
- Regularly replace items like rice and chips to ensure they are at optimum quality
- If you’re serving hot food, make sure it’s kept above 63? C to prevent bacterial growth
- Store raw meat products, ready-to-eat foods and salad separately to prevent cross-contamination
- Cover and refrigerate salad, grated cheese and other perishable items to maintain freshness
Make sure all staff have food safety and allergen training
Of course it’s a legal requirement that all food handlers have at least basic food safety training. However did you know that if you’re selling food which is pre-packed, you need to ensure that it carries a label listing all the ingredients? Not only that, but any food allergens need to be highlighted in bold.
Common allergens include peanuts, milk, gluten, egg, ground nuts and soya, but there are in fact 14 food allergens in total which need to be declared. Make sure that your staff are aware of any allergens in the food they serve and display a notice encouraging customers to ask about allergens.
To help you prepare, Verner Wheelock runs regular courses on food allergens and food labelling. We even have an online course about the requirements for pre-packed food for direct sale (or Natasha’s Law as it is commonly known). We also provide training on managing vegan requirements for food manufacturers.