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Food Services Guidelines for Special Events

Serving Safe Food at Special Events

Successful ventures in food service at special events can be achieved when the requirements outlined in DCMR Title 25-A, also known as the DC Food Code, are diligently followed. The Food Safety and Hygiene Inspection Services Division (FSHISD) will have inspectors on-site during the special event to ensure that all of the requirements as stated in the DC Food Code are being met throughout the event.  If, during the inspections, the sanitarian finds that the operation may threaten the health or safety of the patrons, the vendor or event organizer will be required to correct the violations. If there is an inability or unwillingness to correct violations observed, the vendor may be required to suspend or discontinue their operation.  During the day(s) of the event, there will be one (1) sanitarian conducting inspections for every ten (10) vendors.  Every attempt will be made for all food service operators to be inspected prior to conducting any sales.  The number of food vendors participating must be consistent with the number of vendors as endorsed on the Special Event Application Questionnaire.

All vendors are required to have enough hot water (100°F) for hand-washing throughout the event. This can be accomplished by a temporary hand washing station equipped with an insulated, free-flowing water dispensing thermos, a catch bucket for waste water, soap, and paper towels. The vendor must also have enough hot water for warewashing (110°F), with a temporary three-compartment sink set-up for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing dishes. Appropriate sanitizer and test kit is required for warewashing. Hot water must be available throughout the event. If the vendor is unable to obtain hot water for hand washing and warewashing, the event organizer will be responsible for providing an approved method of supplying sufficient hot water for all vendors. The vendor is responsible for ensuring the safety of their food operation including, but not limited to, adequate temperature control, proper food handling and protection practices, and proper employee hygiene to include frequent, thorough hand washing.  

Special event guidelines for temporary food service operations are available for vendors participating in the event. These guidelines will aid in ensuring that vendors at the event are aware of and follow the requirements. Please provide the FSHISD with a list of the potential vendors for the event with the following information:

  • Name of lead vendor (person in charge at the vendor’s stall or area)
  • Alternate point of contact
  • Trade name or food establishment association
  • Contact telephone number(s)
  • On-site cell phone number to be available during event
  • Contact e-mail address(es)
  • Contact mailing address
  • Menu/food items to be offered for sale
  • Name of the event, dates/times of event, and name of the organizer

Please e-mail this information to [email protected] or fax to (202) 535-1359.

For events where food is not offered for sale, but is to be distributed at no cost, to participants or spectators, vending operations must still meet the requirements of the DC Food Code and serve food safely.

Please see the links below for more information.

Contact Phone: 
(202) 535-2180
Contact Fax: 
(202) 727-8471
Contact TTY: 
711
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
899 North Capitol Street, NE
City: 
Washington
State: 
DC
Zip: 
20002