Outdoor events present an environmental health challenge that is complicated by the large number of people involved. The large variety of foods available and the unpredictability of weather present a particular challenge in assessing and preventing any health risks associated with the food. To ensure that the foods served in these kinds of events are safe for human consumption, it is important for the parties involved in organizing the event to come up with a proper food safety policy for the event. This essay details some of the important measures in such an event by creating a food safety policy for a music festival. The event to be discussed is an outdoor music festival organized by a businessperson in neighboring farmer’s fields. Food safety is one of the major health risks associated with the event, as the field is normally used for stock grazing. There is therefore a possibility of having infection-spreading microorganisms in the field, which may have been passed through animals’ stool. The festival is also likely to present a challenge in the number of people involved since it is predicted that about 12,000 people would be attending. The duration of the festival is set at three days. The duration is also likely to complicate the maintenance of hygiene due to a large amount of waste generated. Several food businesses are expected to be at the festival thus posing a threat to the health of the participants should the right measures fail to be implemented to avoid the spread of food-borne diseases. One business will sell burgers and sausage rolls, which have a risk of spreading diseases if not handled and cooked in the right manner. Ice cream is also to be sold at the festival. This food will be from one of the vans that will be on the site. Another outlet to be set up at the same venue will sell pancakes having fruit fillings. The preparation of these delicacies and the hygiene at the stalls will determine the quality of foods to be served. The source of water to the stalls, power, and drainage is important, as there may not be pre-existing ones at the farm. The outlets will also serve canned drinks with one of them selling beer. The particular concern with the foods is their manufacturing, expiry dates, and their storage. Since the businesses are registered with the Annisburgh District Council, they are likely to have met the standards required by these authorities. However, there is a need to emphasize the three days that the event will take place to prevent any health catastrophe. Some of the challenges that the event will face include the provision of clean water for cleaning the large number of utensils used, washing, cooking, and drinking. There is also the challenge of disposing of the waste generated by the large crowd, disposing of the wastewater, preventing flooding of the venue in the case of rain, and preventing and management of hazards such as fires. Therefore, as the Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) team leader in the Food Safety Division of Annisburgh District Council, it is important to draft and coordinate the implementation of a Food Safety Policy for the event.
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Food Safety Policy
The event is to be held in a field used for grazing stock. This field is likely to be one of the health risks associated with the venue. To prevent contamination of the food stalls, tents, vehicles, and other areas by footwear, one of the requirements will be to ensure that animals are removed from the site for at least three weeks before the start of the event (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). The spread of a strain of E.Coli (O157) is facilitated through stool from farm animals. The stool can contaminate the food in the stalls and cause an outbreak. It is also required that the site be cleared of any animal droppings before the event to avoid people stepping on them. The grass should also be mowed and any clippings removed to create a perfect lawn for the event. Any existing holes and ditches should be covered or fenced to prevent people from accidentally breaking their legs.
The business people who have expressed interest in setting food stalls for the festival need to be contacted before the event to make sure that their preparations are in order. Things to be discussed include whether they are duly registered with the local authorities and or have the right health certificates to engage in their line of trade as required by law (Department for Culture Media and Sport 2007, p. 24). The number of staff to be enrolled for the event needs to be confirmed with the menu for the event being provided. As required by law, each of the stall managers needs to provide an elaborate Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for their business for the time they will be at the festival (Department for Culture Media and Sport 2007, p.13). In accordance with Article 5 of EC Regulation 852/2004, HACCP is necessary for an event of this magnitude (European Commission 2005 p.6). The stall owners also need to state their desired accommodation for the staff to know if they will put up additional structures in the field (Food Standards Agency 2007, p.24). They will also be provided with letters with details of the health assessment of the venue.
The site to be used for the music festival has never hosted a large number of people at the same time. There is therefore a possibility that there are no waste disposal points available. As a requirement, therefore, each stall is to have bins with close-fitting lids (Worsfold 2003, p.23). The bins will be used to temporarily store the waste generated by each of the stalls awaiting transfer to a bigger bin to be situated in the same field. The bin located at the stalls should be emptied regularly. Storage should be away from the food outlet (Worsfold 2003, p.23). The waste that accumulates should be collected regularly from the collection point. It should not be left to overflow as advised by Worsfold (2003, p.23).
The venue is expected to host a large number of people. It, therefore, needs to have a constant supply of clean and potable water (The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health n.d., p. 4). The water will be used for handwashing, washing of vegetables, washing of equipment, and general cleaning. The farm is also not likely to have permanent pipes installed to bring the water. The ones to be temporarily installed need to be flushed with a sterilizing solution (The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health n.d., p. 5) before use. Installation should also be by qualified personnel. The installation includes small tanks fitted throughout the points of use. Water used to make ice and or prepare other edible foodstuffs should be obtained from bottled sources. It should also be stored in a safe place away from contamination (London 2012, p.12).
Wastewater is likely to pose a challenge to the food stalls since there are no existing drainages and septic tanks. Provision of wastewater containers should therefore be made. One of the possibilities could be to use wastewater carriers or portable drainage tanks (Worsfold 2003, p.23). Many health institutions and organizations recommend these tanks as they prevent the spread of waterborne diseases (London 2012, p.12). The stall owners should be cautioned against pouring wastewater on the ground. In fact, there need to be arrangements on how to empty the wastewater basins (Parkinson 2008, p.13). To allow this task to happen, there is a need for the assessment of manual handling risks (Parkinson 2008, p.13). Toilets should be provided for the guests and participants in the music festival. They should be located within a reasonable distance from the stalls. Where possible, they should be in connection to the sewer system or drainage system (Spear, 2007, p.34).
The structures to be set up as food stalls need to be sturdy with the sides and top being adequately covered with material designed to withstand weather elements (Spear, 2007, p.34). They should accommodate washing facilities and sinks. Most important of all, they should have hand-washing areas (Spear 2007, p.34). The structures used for cooking or storage of foodstuffs should not be used as sleeping areas by any of the staff members or the owners (Spear 2007, p.34). The structures should also have walls and floors, which are strong enough. Since the area is a field that is used for grazing, and the weather is unpredictable here, there is a high probability of mud, which can be a health hazard. To avoid this risky situation, the field needs to be leveled around the food preparation areas and sinks. The walls also need to be easily cleaned and with no mold or any loose particles (Spear 2007, p.38). Sources of light will mainly be artificial. In fact, they need to be protected from water and moisture, in general, to prevent electrical hazards at the venue. The stalls should have adequate space for the personnel. The cooking equipment should be stored within them. The structures should also be custom-built for each function to allow a smooth flow of work and or reduce cross-contamination of the foodstuffs (Spear 2007, p.39). Ropes or stakes used during the construction of these structures need to be secure to prevent people from tripping on them and injuring themselves.
Food Preparation Areas
Surfaces used for food preparation should be made of easy-to-clean materials and must be clean at all times (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). There should be a sink for each of the stalls to be set up with the stall making pancakes and vegetable products having more than one sink and preferably a double sink to wash and rinse (Spear 2007, p.36). The sinks will then drain in the wastewater containers provided for above. The stalls should also have draining racks to allow draining of the utensils, which have been washed. They should then be covered to prevent contamination of the clean utensils and equipment by mud or any form of dust.
Barbeques (BBQs) are also expected in some of the stalls. They should be located on the rear of the stand where possible (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). The next best place to put them would be on the side of the stall away from any flammables, on stable ground, and with barriers protecting customers from the flames (Food Standards Agency 2007, p.24). The stall owners and personnel need to respect all the laid guidelines in the area of public health. The food preparations they do should be within the guidelines. Cooked food should not in any way mix with uncooked food. In fact, their handling should be different.
Food Display, Storage, and Transport
Personal hygiene is necessary for all personnel who will be running the stalls and food businesses in the music festival. Storage facilities are of paramount importance in this type of event, as they will determine the quality of food served in the stalls. In the storage of the foodstuffs, the right temperatures need to be kept especially for the perishable foodstuffs and those sensitive to changes in temperatures (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). Cooked food should be stored away from raw food. Containers used in storage should also be clean and closed with clean lids. It is recommended that food should be stored off the ground with a minimum of 45 centimeters being accepted by most health bodies (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). The storage should also withstand extremes of weather such as wind and rain, or extreme heat (British Standards Institute 2007, p.15).
The maintenance of temperature is also important for the stalls. It should follow international as well as local guidelines. According to one of the guidelines, “High-risk food must be transported, stored, and displayed at a temperature of 8C or below – ideal being 1 to 5C” (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). Food for display should also be at the right temperature. If it is to be displayed hot, the temperature should be above 63C for more than a two-hour display (British Standards Institute 2007, p.14). This condition should be monitored using suitable thermometers recommended by health bodies. The stalls should also offer hand-washing facilities within the food preparation areas. The people preparing the food should use them adequately.
Each of the stall owners should produce an emergency plan on how to deal with emergencies at his or her stall. These emergencies include fires and other hazards associated with the trade involved. They should have emergency numbers in the stall including the fire department and police (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). They should also have proper and clear escape routes with a provision of backup lighting (British Standards Institute 2007, p.12). All the escape routes need to be kept clear always by using signs and notices. This requirement will prevent any hazards and disasters in the event thus contributing towards a safe and successful music festival.
In conclusion, the preparation of an event involving a large number of people is important to prevent any health hazard and or disaster. In the event discussed above, the venue is a field, which is normally used for grazing animals. 12,000 people are expected to attend. Several challenges emerge since the venue has not been utilized before. The infrastructure required to host a large number of people is absent. The likely challenges have been highlighted. They have been addressed using the food safety policy developed specifically for the event.
British Standards Institute 2007, Specification for a sustainable event management system with guidance for use, Harvard UP, Harvard.
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