Legalities of Handling Food at Events

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This post is geared more towards planners who are just starting out or those of you who may be dreaming of one day owning an event planning company.

Many planners got their start in the event industry by producing small scale events for friends and family.  For these types of events, catering or handling some portion of the food can be involved.  For example, I was responsible for creating the hors d'oeuvres at my sister's baby shower last year (and heaven only knows why since I can't cook).

This is one area however that has specific regulations once you cross the line from amateur to professional event planner.  If you or your staff will be in contact with food at an event, then you most likely need a food handler's license issued by your state.  This applies to cutting and serving wedding cake as well, so make sure you know the venue's catering and cake policies ahead of time so that you aren't put in an awkward position.

One case of food poisoning, and yes, you can be sued.  Make sure your liability is limited by your contract and either have nothing to do with hands-on food prep and presentation or have the appropriate licenses on file for each of your employees. 

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