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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Food Safety at Special Events

It is important that food safety is maintained during special events. Please read the information below.

What is a special event?

A special event is an event where food is sold, given or offered to the public, whether it is a charitable or commercial event. It is a temporary event or special occasion rather than an ongoing or long term operation.

When food is offered to the public, it must be prepared safely and the requirements of the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17)1 must be met. Food vendors are responsible for making sure that all requirements are met, including requirements from other agencies (e.g. Fire Department, TSSA, municipality, AGCO).

Who is a food vendor?

Food vendors include anyone selling / providing any food or drink intended for human consumption (including prepackaged items).

See Additional Information below for further guidance on non-food safety related topics at Special Events.


What should you do before a special event?

Organizers must complete and send in the Notice of Intent for Organizers of Special Events / Markets form (PDF 94KB) at least 30 days before the event.

Food vendors must read the Special Events Information Package (PDF 892KB).

Food vendors must complete and send in a Notice of Intent to Operate as a Special Event / Market Vendor form (PDF 137KB) for each tent, food truck, trailer or food premises they are operating to the Middlesex-London Health Unit at least 14 days before the event.

Please be aware:

  • Suppliers must be approved suppliers.
  • Food preparation must be at an approved kitchen or on-site. No home prepared foods.

Forms can be submitted by:

  • Mail: Middlesex-London Health Unit
    Attention: Environmental Health
    355 Wellington St, Suite 110, London, ON, N6A 3N7
  • Fax: (519) 663-9276, or
  • E-mail:
Special Events Key Messages

Be prepared for Special Events. Learn more →


If you have questions about Special Events, please contact the Environmental Health Team at:

What should you do during a special event?

Food vendors must make sure they are set up as required under the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (O. Reg. 493/17)1 before any food is prepared. Please be aware that requirements from other agencies also need to be met (e.g. Fire Department, TSSA, municipality, AGCO).

Food Source

  • Food must be from an approved source.
  • Food must be prepared in an inspected kitchen or on-site.
  • No home prepared foods.

Handwashing / Food Handler

  • A handwashing station must be available in the food preparation / food handling area. This should be set up before any food handling begins.
  • Handwashing stations must have:
    • A supply of hot and cold (or a mixture of warm) potable water under pressure
    • Liquid soap in a dispenser, AND
    • Paper towel.
  • Food handlers must wear clean clothes and ensure food is not contaminated by hair.
  • Food handlers who are experiencing symptoms (such as vomiting, diarrhea or coughing) should not be on-site.

Keep potentially hazardous food at safe temperatures

  • Ensure food temperatures are maintained during transportation.
  • Have enough refrigerators or coolers to maintain cold foods at 4oC (40oF) or less.
  • Have enough hot holding units to maintain hot foods at 60oC (140oF) or higher.
  • Have thermometers on-site to check the temperatures of foods and the temperatures of all cold and hot holding units.

Protect food from contamination

  • Raw and ready-to-eat food products must be fully separated to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Store all food off the floor / ground. Raise foods on tables, shelves or pallets.
  • Make sure all food is covered and is stored in food grade containers or packaging.
  • Have enough utensils to use separate utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Where reusable plates or containers are provided by the patrons, food handlers must ensure that there is no direct contact between the serving utensils and the plates or must wash, rinse and sanitize the serving utensil(s) after each patron (e.g. dishwashing after contact with patron’s plate).

Keep the food preparation area clean and sanitary

  • All utensils and equipment must be:
    • Washed: in warm water with dish soap
    • Rinsed: in warm water, AND
    • Sanitized: with an approved sanitizer for 45 seconds.
  • Dishwashing at an inspected kitchen is permitted (provide enough clean utensils to last the entire day).
  • Single use (disposable) containers must be used for service or sale of foods, unless appropriate dishwashing is available.
  • Approved sanitizers:
    • Chlorine at 100 ppm
    • Quaternary Ammonium at 200 ppm
    • Iodine at 25 ppm
    • Other sanitizing agents may be approved. Speak to a Public Health Inspector at the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
  • Provide test strips or reagent to measure the strength of the sanitizer being used on-site.
  • Dispose of garbage in a clean manner.
  • Dispose of waste water in a clean manner. Do not dispose of waste water on the ground or into a sewer.

Please note: If the requirements for special events are not met, a food vendor may be ordered to close or get a ticket (offence notice).

Additonal Information

Special Event Operators shall ensure all attendees are adhering to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017. The obligation to ensure compliance of staff, volunteers, vendors, and patrons falls on the proprietor. Visit MLHU's Tobacco & Vapour Products - The Law or Smoke-Free Outdoor Spaces to learn more. Please contact the Smoke-Free Information Line with any questions:

All vendors involved in providing personal services to the public must comply with the following requirements:

All animal exhibitors should:

  • Notify the Middlesex-London Health Unit by email before the event and provide contact information that is valid for at least 30 days following the event.
  • Be familiar with and follow the recommendations in the Ministry of Health and Long-Terms Care’s Recommendations to Prevent Disease and Injury Associated with Petting Zoos in Ontario (PDF 763KB).
  • Report any animal bite or scratch experienced by a person to the Middlesex-London Health Unit by calling 519-663-5317.

For more information about special events, please contact a Public Health Inspector on the Environmental Health Team at:

Date of creation: January 8, 2013
Last modified on: January 25, 2024


1Ontario. Ministry of the Attorney General. (2017). Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.R.O. 1990, Ontario Regulation 493/17: Food Premises. Retrieved from