Food Safety

Food safety is an integral part of many SMU events. The SMU Food Safety Program will highlight the appropriate food handling and preparation procedures. The guidelines apply to any individuals and/or companies (i.e. SMU students, faculty, and employees or third party entities) that prepare and/or serve food at any university-related events. It is the responsibility of the event organizer to ensure their staff understands and follows the Food Safety Program. Copies of the Food Safety Program should be made available to the event staff. The program will be evaluated annually by SMU Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).

If the food is prepared by SMU students, faculty, and/or employees, a displayed sign must state that "Food is participant prepared and the university does not make any warranties or guarantees as to quality or content."

Sterno Usage

  •  Handle Sterno flames with extreme care, keeping flammable materials at a safe distance.
  •  Ensure proper indoor ventilation to prevent Sterno fume buildup; consider outdoor use for enhanced ventilation.
  •  Extinguish Sterno flames using proper tools; avoid blowing out flames to prevent uncontrolled fuel dispersion.
  •  Store Sterno cans in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight; check for damage or leaks before use.
  •  Train staff on safe Sterno handling; assign personnel to monitor and adjust flames throughout the event.
  •  Have fire extinguishers and emergency equipment on hand; communicate emergency procedures to staff.
  •  Regularly monitor Sterno flame height to prevent overheating or flaring; follow manufacturer guidelines.
  •  Inform customers and guests about Sterno usage, emphasizing safety measures and designated areas.
  •  Use long-reach lighters for Sterno ignition; follow manufacturer guidelines for safe lighting procedures. 
  • Never leave Sterno unattended during the event; continuous monitoring is crucial for safety.

Food Handlers Hygiene

  • Food Handlers are individuals that prepare and/or serve food to the public.
  • Hair restraints such as hairnets or caps are required during food preparation and handling.
  • Everyone is required to wash their hands before and during food handling.
  • Hand sanitizer should be provided for the public but it is not an acceptable replacement for hand washing.
  • Gloves are still required for food preparation and handling even after hands have been washed.
  • Hands are to be washed frequently during food preparation and handling.
  • The proper method of handwashing is shown below.

Instructions to hand washing

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Ingredients should be fresh and properly cleaned and handled.
  • Do not use ingredients that are past the expiration date.
  • Different types of ingredients require different storage methods and should be separated accordingly, such as meat and vegetables.
  • Equipment (i.e. stove, food containers, and utensils) must be cleaned and sanitized before and after use.
  • Baked goods or any perishable items should not be served more than 24 hours after preparation.
  • Perishable foods are to be thrown away after 2 hours of being in room temperature.
  • Barriers should be used to protect food from insects, dust, or other contamination(s).
  • All condiments such as onions, relish, sauces, mustard and etc. should be served in either self-service packets or dispensed from sanitary dispensers.
  • Scoops are required when self-service dispensers are unavailable.
  • Thermometers are required to check for proper cooking temperatures.
  • Food must not stay in the “Danger Zone” (between 41°F to 140°F) for longer than 30 minutes.
  • Temperature requirements for different categories of food is shown below.

Picture of Temperature Requirements for food

Allergen Warnings

  • An allergen warning sign or label is required on all foods with the allergen(s) listed.
  • Major food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish/seafood, shellfish, wheat and soy.
  • Remember any food that was prepared in the same kitchen, at the same time, with any allergens are considered to be cross contaminated. Therefore, an allergen warning is necessary.
  • Food that contains nut derivatives such as peanut oil require the nut allergen warning.
  • Chocolates and other prepared foods such as M&Ms may come with a nut warning.
  • Check the product label for a list of the product ingredients.
  • Some examples of allergen warnings are listed below:“Warning: this product contains foods that may cause an allergic reaction. This product contains (name product(s)).”

    “Warning: This product contains ground nuts or tree nuts or ingredients derived from nuts.

    “This product was made in the same facility as other products containing nuts or where nuts are handled. (ONLY if there are no nuts directly in the product)

Allergen Warning Picture


  • Caterers are individuals and/or companies that supply food and/or service for events.
  • Caterers are required to have their own food license and insurance. A copy of the food license and insurance must be send to the Office of Risk Management.
  • Some of the responsibilities of caterers include monitoring food temperature and providing allergen warning labels for the food.
  • All catered food must be served within two hours of preparation.
  • The internal temperature of hot food should be 140°F while the internal temperature of cold food should be 41°F.
  • The reheated food temperature should reach 165°F before the food can be served to the public.


  • If someone becomes ill from the food being served, encourage the participant to seek medical care.
  • For students, they may go to Dr. Bob Smith Student Health Center.
  • Stop serving the food immediately.
  • If immediate medical attention is necessary, contact SMU PD at 214-768-3333.
  • It is the responsibility of the event organizer to contact the appropriate authorities.

Picture of food safety  guidelines

Additional information about Food Safety can be found at the following resources:

If you have any other questions and/or concerns, please contact us at or 214-768-2083.