Concession Stand Food SafetyLast updated on 3/17/2021
From baseball to soccer or football to hockey, every sport has one thing in common. Concession stands are a staple at any sporting event, offering anything from popcorn and pretzels to cheesesteaks and corn dogs. But is your concession stand practicing proper food safety? Concession stands can be especially susceptible to issues with under-trained staff, the weather, and pests. Keep reading to learn how you can ensure proper food safety is practiced at your concession stand.
Offer Proper Training for Employees
Because concession stands are only open during specific seasons and sporting events, chances are they aren’t run by a full-time staff. While there may be one consistent owner or manager, the food will most likely be prepared and served by volunteers with no food experience or part-time employees.
Since concession stands don’t have the normal staffing a restaurant does, the same person could be handling multiple tasks including cleaning, cooking, and manning the cash register. Here are a few other guidelines for your employees to following during their shift:
- Do not consume personal food inside the concession stand
- Always wear latex gloves when preparing food and wash hands after handling money at the cash register
- Understand and follow all HACCP procedures
- Do not allow any non-employed people in the concession stand area
Prepare for All Weather Types
Sporting events happen all year round, which means if your stand is outdoors or partially outdoors, you need to be prepared for any type of weather. This includes wind, sun, rain, and even snow. And with extreme weather temperatures comes the possibility for time-temperature control, or TCS, food to be stored and served improperly.
Keep Cold Foods Cold
When dealing with extreme heat, it’s imperative you prepare your concession stand with the right equipment to keep cold foods cold. Do not allow condiments, fruits, vegetables, or prepared foods such as salads or sides to sit out on the counter when not in use. Equip your concession stand with a cooler or refrigerator to ensure these foods stay at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Keep Hot Foods Hot
Similarly, keep your freshly prepared hot food hot when it is waiting to be served. If you’re going to offer hot foods, ensure your concession stand is equipped with electricity to operate heat lamps or food warmers designed to hold food at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Diligently check foods every hour or every two hours because factors such as rain or wind can lower the ambient temperature and affect your hot foods.
Serve Foods with Little Preparation Needed
Most concession stands are tight on space and run by employees with limited kitchen knowledge or skills. Therefore, it makes sense to offer foods that need very little preparation or holding constraints. This reduces the chance for cross-contamination during food prep as well as the effort put in to properly prepare and hold TCS foods. Foods that require little preparation and offer high-profit margins include:
- Soft and hard pretzels
- Cotton candy
If you do choose to make menu offerings with perishable items, make sure you are up to date on food safety guidelines to serve safe food. Always mark the day the meat was cooked and when it should be disposed of. This is especially important if your stand is operated by a volunteer rotation or multiple employees.
A large problem any time of year, outdoor pests can easily sneak, slither, or fly into your concession stand kitchen undetected. If you operate an outdoor concession stand, your kitchen may be especially susceptible to insects and animals.
Stay proactive by consistently pest-proofing your stand. Here are a few ways you can keep pests from invading your space:
- Check your structure for holes or other possible areas of entry
- Ensure your stand is airtight when employees lock-up for the night
- Place traps around your stand designed to capture crawling and flying insects or rodents
- Store leftover food in airtight containers
- Keep stored food off the ground at least six inches
- Thoroughly wipe down all surfaces and immediately clean spills
- Remove trash after service
Although your concession stand may not feel like it, you’re still operating a commercial kitchen with a social responsibility to feed your customers food that’s safe. Because of this, you need to follow normal kitchen safety practices and cleaning routines. Follow the above guidelines when it comes to preparing your concession stand for the next home game to ensure you're offering safe, delicious food for your customers.