This food safety advice has been produced to try and make sure that everyone has a fun, safe and enjoyable day.

Always ask yourself whether you have the facilities and knowledge to prepare the intended food safely. If not, consider simplifying or scaling down what you do.

The Food Standards Agency has advice on providing food for community and charity events.

Keeping food safe

Following the 4Cs of food hygiene will help you prepare, make and store food safely. The 4Cs of food hygiene are:

Here are some general practical tips for when you're making food for large numbers of people: 

  • prepare food in advance and freeze it, if you can, but ensure the food is properly defrosted before you use it
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water, using hand sanitisers if hand washing facilities are not available
  • always wash fresh fruit and vegetables
  • keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart
  • do not use food past its use-by date
  • always read any cooking instructions and make sure food is properly cooked before you serve it 
  • ensure that food preparation areas are suitably cleaned and sanitised after use and wash any equipment you are using in hot soapy water 
  • keep food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible
Chilled food

Food that needs to be chilled, such as sandwich fillings served as part of a buffet, should be left out of the fridge for no more than four hours. After this time, any remaining food should be thrown away or put back in the fridge. If you put the food back in the fridge, don't let it stand around at room temperature when you serve it again.

Use-by dates

Use-by dates show how long the food remains safe to eat or drink. Check and follow the use-by dates of the food you serve. Food cannot be supplied in any circumstances if its use-by date has passed.

Foods that need extra care

Some foods are more likely to cause food poisoning than others. These include:

  • raw milk
  • raw shellfish
  • soft cheeses
  • pâté
  • foods containing raw egg
  • cooked sliced meats

If you serve any of these foods, check the foods which need extra care document from the Food Standards Agency.


If you have suffered from diarrhoea or sickness do not prepare food until 48 hours after symptoms have gone. Even if you have good hand washing technique you still risk passing bacteria to food.


Be aware that some people may have allergies and that they may require information regarding ingredients in food. It is important to be able to either advise accurately or make them aware that you cannot guarantee. You may wish to address this ahead with a notice.

More information on allergy and intolerances from the Food Standards website.

31 March 2022