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Special Events - Safety Guidelines


Special events, meetings, conferences, training sessions and other occasions bring about the gathering of people for information, education, celebration, fun and food.   Each event involves a multitude of details, some of which carry the potential of presenting safety hazards that range from incorrect food temperatures to blocking an emergency exit.  These unintentional hazards can escalate into an immediate danger or an after-the-occasion illness for individuals attending the event.   


These guidelines were developed to ensure the purpose of the gathering is completed in a manner that promotes fire, life and food safety.   It provides event planners with practical suggestions and information that complies with regulatory requirements for various aspects of their event.  Many of these guidelines go beyond special events to help provide a “common sense” approach to our everyday activities. 


If you have any questions regarding these guidelines, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office at x8040 (713-221-8040) or visit us in the Risk Management and Compliance Department in room 621 South of the One Main Building.  The EHS Office is available to work with you to apply these guidelines and create safe solutions for your event.

The UHD EHS Office would like to thank the MIT EHS Department for their model plan that encouraged this Guideline.

Click Here for Printable Version of Special Events Guidelines


Guideline Topics



The UHD EHS Office wishes to thank the

MIT EHS Department for their model plan that encouraged this Guideline.

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Overview of Safety Rules

For Safe and Enjoyable Events

  • Make sure all electrical needs are discussed with Facilities Management (FM, x8026 in S101) prior to your event.  This will ensure the:
                • Equipment used during your event has adequate power
                • Extension cords and wires are properly secured with cord covers, ramps or an approved material
                • Extension cords are properly rated for the equipment being used
  • Once FM has set up an event, do not move any furniture or equipment without first contacting someone from the Community Relations and Conference Services (CR-CS) Department (x8580 or x8100 in Room S625).  The set up is designed to ensure compliance with fire and life safety codes.  Blocking fire exits or firefighting equipment is a violation of State Fire Codes
  • If outside party planners are being hired, please have the vendor submit a Site Health and Safety Plan to the EHS Office.  This allows EHS to address any equipment with inherent hazards such as scaffolding, ladders, cutting tools and chemical products.
  • Make sure decorations are not:
                • Near or touching hot lights and/or candles
                • Blocking the fire suppression systems or emergency exits
  • Do Not Exceed the Maximum Allowable Occupant Load numbers that are posted inside the event space
  • Carry all ice in an ice chest that has a low center of gravity.  (Tall beverage carts tip over and the spilled ice causes a slippery surface.)
  • Cooking any food item inside any UHD building is not allowed. (Cooking food requires an approved kitchen.  The only approved kitchen on the UHD campus is in the One Main Building’s Food Court, which is only available to Aramark employees).
  • Keep hot foods HOT (above 135° F) and cold foods COLD (below 41° F).
              • Arrange for pick-up or delivery of meals so you can eat the food almost immediately.  This allows maximum quality and safety of the food.
              • If you have hot food for any length of time, keep it HOT. This means that the food must have an internal temperature at or above 135° F when served.  Just keeping it warm does not ensure safety.
              • If you have cold food for any length of time, keep it COLD. This means that the food must have an internal temperature at or below 41° F when served.  Just keeping it cool does not ensure safety.


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Event Sponsor

The event sponsor is responsible for the safety of the event.  The event sponsor must be a designated full-time UHD employee and must attend the entire event as well as function as the Event Safety Representative. For student organization sponsored events, the Student Advisor must attend the entire event and function as the Event Safety Representative.


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Emergency Evacuation

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office regulates the Fire and Life Safety Codes which are state law.   Each state agency is required to enforce those regulations for the prevention of fire related incidents and facilitate evacuation if evacuation becomes necessary.  The staff and volunteers for the event should know the floor plan of the event area, the exit routes of the event area and how to assist with an evacuation of the area/building.  The safety representative should review a floor plan of the area and ensure:


  • Access to all exit doors, corridors and stairways MUST be kept clear at all times.  (Contact FM to coordinate the removal of items that block these areas prior to start of event.)
  • All exit doors are left unlocked during business hours (Contact UHD Police at x8065 in S118)
  • Emergency exits are not held open with any item other than university installed magnetic holds
  • All aisles to access exits are three feet wide and kept clear
  • Emergency exit signs are illuminated and unobstructed
  • Emergency lights are unobstructed
  • Exit doors are not disguised by decorations or obscured by fog, smoke,  pipes or drapes
  • The set up of pipes and drapes do not block or hide exit signs and doors by either:
                • Leaving  an open space in the drapes or
                • Using different color drapes and hang lighted exit signs from the pipe


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Room Capacity

 It is the responsibility of the event sponsor’s safety representative to ensure the maximum capacity of a room or facility is not exceeded during the event.  Choose a venue that will be appropriate for the maximum attendance.  DO NOT EXCEED the Maximum Allowable Occupant Load numbers that are posted inside the special events rooms.  Contact Community Relations and Conference Services (CR&CS) at x8580 or in S625 for more information.


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Special Event Center Awareness

The Special Events Center is located in the Academic Building, room A300, which is adjacent to the Food Court and the Cullen Robertson Auditorium.  The Special Events Center can be one large room or divided into two or three separated smaller rooms.  All coordinators should to be aware of the following safety issues.


Room Dividers

There are two room dividers that can be completely open for a large event or closed for use either as a single small room or a medium-sized (two small) room(s):


  • For safety purposes, these room dividers can only be operated by select trained individuals (Contact CR-CS for more information)
  • Two trained individuals are required to safely operate the dividers
  • Each divider has two door portals


Catering Areas

When food service is a part of your event, the space selected must address additional safety issues to accommodate set up for your caterers.


  • When the space is separated by a divider, the door portals between adjacent spaces can serve as entry ways for the caterers to get to the food set up area
  • If the adjacent area is not available, caterers have the option of setting up:
                • Inside the reserved area in a corner of the room, or
                • In the back Service Corridor (at the east end of the corridor along the exterior wall between the two sets of double doors only). See photos below.

Facing east toward One Main Building


Facing West toward Travis Street


Signage (see next photo below)



Service Corridor Safety Limitations

There are certain actions that must be adhered to when using the service corridor:


  • Nothing can be stored between the west end double doors and the first set of east end double doors of the corridor since they are the main emergency exit pathway (observe arrows on exit signs)
  • Stored items and food setup can only take place at the east end of the corridor between the two sets of double doors along the solid (exterior) wall of the catering area. An emergency path must be maintained for a secondary exit and for vendor deliveries between the Food Court Kitchen and the One Main Building corridor
  • Trash pickup prior to (and if necessary during) the event must be coordinated with FM (x8026)

No Cooking

State Fire Codes limit cooking inside any building only to approved kitchens with an automatic fire suppression system.  Currently the only kitchen approved for cooking is the Food Court kitchen which is located on the third floor of the Academic Building. Access to this kitchen is restricted to Aramark personnel.


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Think About Safety Before You Buy

Use the safe type of decorations in offices, suites and other non-public areas.


Safe to Use

Not Safe

Decorations that are “UL Listed” and /or “flame retardant” or don’t burn easily, such as listed below: :

Decorations that burn easily, cannot be effectively treated with flame-retardant or can ignite nearby items, such as listed below:

  • Artificial trees and wreaths
  • Natural evergreen trees, wreath, boughs and other cut greenery
  • Streamers or other paper decorations (labeled as fire resistant by the manufacturer)
  • Paper, plastic, Styrofoam decorations not  labeled as fire resistant by the manufacturer
  • Fabrics that are professionally treated with flame retardant
  • Sheer, mesh, gauze-type fabrics
  • Miniature light-bulb strands (for indoor use)
  • Large light-bulb strands (get very hot)
  • Fresh flowers, pumpkins, gourds, indoor plants, fruits, vegetables     
  • Dried flowers/leaves/grasses, corn stalks, hay and straw


Tapes and Adhesives

The Facilities Management (FM) Department prohibits the use of ordinary duct tape or packing tape to secure cords or hang decorations.  The duct tape leaves a sticky residue and removes paint and floor finish.  Use removable tapes and adhesives such as the following that can be purchased from Office Depot, local hardware or office supply stores:


  • Long Mask Blue Masking tape (painter’s tape)
  • Gaffer tape for carpets
  • Poster tape, mounting adhesive putty and tabs

Decorations, Lights and Locations

Additional decoration safety guidelines include the following:


  • Do not hang decorations from overhead pipes or sprinkler heads (this could result in water damage) 
  • Keep items 18 inches below fire sprinkler heads
  • Keep lighting equipment (especially high intensity) and other heat sources away from decorations 
  • Remove decorations immediately after your event
  • Locations where decorations are not permitted without an EHS Office safety review include:
              • Atriums
              • Auditoriums, classrooms and other large rooms (obtain permission from space coordinator before purchasing decorations)
              • Corridors
              • Elevators
              • Exit Doorways
              • Lobbies
              • Stairways


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Table Linen, Pipes and Drapes

Linen and drapes should be cleaned and professionally treated with flame retardant substances.  For a list of fire retardant substances/products, see Suppliers of Fire Retardant Products section.


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Banners and Posters

Using the chart below, contact the department or office that is responsible for the space where you would like to hang up the banner or poster.


Item You Would Like to Hang or Post

Department to be Contacted

Community Relations & Conference Services (S625, x8580)
Bulletin Board Flyers or Posters
Student Activities (S204, x8573)


Fire Retardant Cloth and Plastic Banners

  • Before purchasing a banner, ask the manufacturer to supply a fire-retardant treatment certificate
  • Provide the fire-retardant treatment certificate to notify the EHS Office)


Displaying or Hanging Up Posters and Banners


  • Secure the lightweight poster to the wall. Facilities Management (FM) prohibits the use of duct or packing tape. Refer to the “Decorations” section on page 9 for other options
  • Use rope or wire to secure heavy banners. It may be best to request assistance from FM with hanging posters or banners
  • Hang a long banner or poster so the bottom is at least 6 feet 8 inch above the floor
  • Make sure no one walks underneath while a heavy banner or poster is being hung
  • DO NOT USE three-legged easels to display posters in main or exit/entry corridors.  Floor poster holder displays should have a solid base to comply with the American with Disabilities Act standards
  • Fire code prohibits obstructing exit pathways


Removing Posters and Banners

  • If the banner is heavy, make sure no one walks underneath while the banner is being removed. It may be best to request assistance from FM with removing posters or banners
  • Each group is responsible for removing its poster(s)
  • Re-use, recycle or dispose of posters or banners in the nearest compactor (Contact FM in S101, x8026 or Shipping and Receiving in N101, x8049)

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Compressed Gases and Chemical Substances

Compressed gas cylinder(s) are used through-out the University for welding, food preparation, and research purposes as well as for special events.


The most common type of cylinder used at UHD is helium gas to fill balloons. Helium, including all other types of cylinders must be transported by a UHD staff or faculty members who have been approved to do so and must use a cylinder dolly for large cylinders.  Helium tanks must be brought back to EH&S for storage and for disposal.


For convenience, the EHS Office has hand held portable helium cylinders that can be reserved for a special event. This request must be made by e-mail ( or or ) and at least five (5) days in advance of the event.


 Special events involving cylinders or chemicals must have EH&S approval as part of the event approval process.  The name of the “Responsible Person” as well as a description and location of the activity must be provided to EH&S for review. EH&S may request additional information, provide training, or implement safety controls before the event is approved.


As an example, approvals for Helium tanks require the following training:


  • The “Responsible Person” must complete  the safety training  listed below:
  • Prerequisite General Safety Training class
  • A one-time Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety class (15 minutes).


 Chemicals used for demonstration purposes outside of the lab must also be approved by the EH&S department before approval of the event is granted. Chemicals can pose undesirable health and fire risks. It is important that EH&S is involved with the planning of this type of event.


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Electrical Extension and Power Cords

The improper use of electrical extension and power cords can create fire, tripping or shock hazards. 


Safe practices include the following:


  • Use a UL listed extension cord that has a 3-prong plug (grounded) and a heavy duty rating
  • Ensure the power strips and surge protectors have a UL approved label
  • Plug extension cords into wall outlets
  • Connect power strips and surge protectors directly into a wall outlet
  • Run cords in low traffic areas (such as along the edge of walls or under tables)
  • Secure extension and/or power cords with wide tape to the  floor or to table legs


Unsafe practices are as follows:

  • Use of a narrow extension cord with a 2-prong plug (easily overheats)
  • Use of an extension cord as permanent wiring
  • Plugging one extension cord  into another extension cord, multi-outlet strip or tap (these may overload circuit)
  • Overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet
  • Use of "multi-plug" adaptors and other devices that allow the connection of multiple appliances into a single receptacle
  • Connecting multiple power strips or surge protectors together
  • Overloading power strips and surge protectors
  • Running extension cords  through or across doorways or under carpets or rugs (damages cord insulation – shock hazard)
  • Running extension cords across aisles, corridors or stairs
  • Dangling cords above the floor
  • Stringing cords over or wrapping cords around overhead pipes or sprinkler heads (could cause water damage)


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Lighting and Visual Effects

General lighting must be bright enough to allow guests or the audience to see the aisles leading to the exits.  This prevents people from tripping or falling under normal circumstances and facilitates a quick evacuation in case of an emergency.  If mood lighting is used, someone must be assigned to stay at the control panel so the lights can be turned up immediately if the fire alarm is activated.


If you plan to use unusual lighting or visual effects, you must also develop a plan that determines how


It can be accomplished in a manner that complies with the regulations and guidelines governing safe lighting.  The safety plan must be reviewed and approved by the following departments:


  • Theatre Arts Director or Technical Director if it is a theatrical production within the theater.
  • The EH&S Office for all other events


Lighting equipment (especially high intensity) must be UL rated and positioned so curtains and decorations are not ignited.  Refer to the “Decorations” and “Electrical Extension and Power Cord” sections on pages 8 and 11 respectively.


Strobe Lighting

The vendor must follow all safety requirements which the event sponsor should give to them prior to the event.  The safety requirements are as follows:


  • Equipment must be 2 Hertz, with a Flicker rate of 4 flashes per second or less, interrupted and synchronize multiple strobes
  • The EHS Office highly recommends the use of a licensed operator for the strobe equipment
  • The EHS Office highly recommends the use of a licensed operator for the strobe equipment


“Strobe lighting will be used in this production.  Those with known sensitivity to strobe light should avoid viewing the (specify the time period or portion) of this show.”

Also mention if there are any other unusual effects that could startle or disturb the audience, such as gunfire.


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Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention

  • Check the area for uneven walking surfaces and step heights (risers)
  • Be aware that walking surfaces can become slippery because of rain or ice or spills
  • Secure the edges of rugs and cords to prevent tripping
  • Use railings on raised platforms to prevent guests and chairs from falling off.  Provide steps with railings so people can safely move on and off the platforms used for either seating or performances.


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Ice Transportation

Transport ice provided by campus automatic ice dispensing equipment in a low center of gravity ice chest as opposed to a tall beverage cart cooler.   The tall beverage carts are not designed to move over long distances, over uneven surfaces or thresholds.  Attempts to transport the tall cart filled with ice over long distances, uneven surfaces, or door thresholds, have routinely resulted in spills that creates an invitation to slips, trips and falls.


Review the “Food Services Guidelines” section for food safety issues.


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Candles and Open Flames

The use of candles for decoration or for lighting is not recommended.   Safer alternatives for mood lighting include:


  • Electronic flicker candles
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-operated lanterns 


All plans to use candles must be reviewed and approved by the EHS Office.  Candles are only allowed during events in designated areas with fire safety precautions and ONLY with an approved Open Flame Permit.

The use of open flames (sternos, chafing dishes, candles, etc) for serving food is allowed in certain rooms if adequate safety precautions are taken. A safer option is to use electrical warming trays, crock pots or outdoor ovens (outdoor use only).

If you want to pursue the use of open flames as part of decorative arrangements or for serving food, contact the EHS Office with your proposed safety precautions. These include:


  • The use of Flame Retardant Materials near and under the candles
  • The use of hurricane type glass candleholders
  • Not leaving lit items unattended
  • Placing matches and burnt candles in water before disposal


An individual who will be on hand at the event during the entire time of the open flame will be required to attend training and a fire extinguisher will be made available for the event. 


Open Flame Permit for Special Events

An Open Flames Permit for Special Events will be issued by the EHS Office after:


  • The review and approval of the safety plan, and
  • The required training, which includes classroom training on fire safety and hands-on training for the use of a fire extinguisher


Once the Open Flames Permit has been issued, see the UHD EHS Office to check out an approved fire extinguisher for your event.


The permit must be posted during an event that includes the following activities and/or items:


  • Candles (limited with approval)
  • Open flames in assembly areas (fire performing acts outdoors only)
  • Sternos or chafing dishes used with food warmers
  • Open burning ( barbecue pits only)
                • Liquefied petroleum gases (i.e. propane for cooking or other uses – outdoors only);
                • Additional training required for the use of Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety
                • An ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher must be on site during the event
  • Pyrotechnical effects materials or fireworks for special events  (outdoors only - City of Houston Permit required)
  • Temporary membrane structures, such as tents and canopies
  • Deep fry cooking in outdoor cooking booths must use vegetable or animal oils or fats only (allowed on a limited basis with approval from EHS)
                • The vendor is required to have at least one listed Type ‘K’ fire extinguisher, with a current inspection tag, available during the event



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Suppliers of Fire Retardant Products

Local and state suppliers of fire retardant products include:


Flame Seal Products, Inc.

4025 Willowbend Blvd. #310

Houston, TX 77025 USA

Telephone:  713-668-4291


Flame Stop, Inc.

924 Blue Mound Rd.

Fort Worth, TX 76131

Telephone: 1-877-397-7867

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The EHS Office requires a site plan for all outdoor festival events.  The plan must indicate the locations of tents, canopies, propane heaters, booths, and other items that could present a risk to event participants.  EHS will verify proper clearances and Fire Department access requirements are maintained. 


For rented tents and canopies that are 1,200 square feet or larger, the rental company is required to obtain a permit from the City of Houston.  A duplicate copy of the permit application shall be forwarded to the EHS Office.  Requirements for the large tents are as follows:


  • Lighted “Exit” signs posted at each exit
  • An adequate number of exits for the number of occupants
  • Exits located at opposite ends or sides of the tent or canopy
  • Exits that are easy to open and move through. The use of flaps that are buckled or snapped does not meet the requirements of an exit door. A canopy at the exit is helpful
  • Campus Police (x8056) protection if the tent will be up overnight  (This will provide security and fire safety in lieu of automatic fire detection or alarm)
  • Drapes, table skirts and other materials that have been treated with fire retardant
  • Flags tied onto ropes and stakes so people will see these tripping hazards
  • A safety review of activities conducted by the event safety representative
  • A 12 feet high canopy without sides is required over cooking equipment/grills, or you can choose to cook without a canopy
  • Contact Facilities Management to make arrangements for lights, power and/or heat
  • No smoking is allowed inside or near the perimeter
  • Assign an on-site person and alternates who will call x 8-911 in the event of an emergency.  Provide the names of these individuals to the EHS Office and have everyone program the UHD Police number 713-221-8911 in their cell phone
  • Provide fire extinguishers throughout the event site. Consult with the EHS Office for the number and locations of these fire extinguishers. At minimum place a fire extinguisher at all exits and entrances.
  • Portable Cooking Booths:
            • Place and use a minimum of 15 feet from any permanent structure
            • Maintain a minimum of 10 feet of separation between cooking booths and non-cooking booths
            • Cooking booth venders must provide a fire extinguisher for each cooking booth, unless event sponsor assigns trained fire watch individuals.  Consult with EHS Office
                      • Charcoal barbeque cooking must be located a minimum of 10 feet from any booth and a minimum of 15 feet from any permanent structure
                      • Charcoal barbeque cooking is prohibited inside of any booths


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Fog and Haze

The use of fog machines inside any UHD building is not allowed except:


  • In a laboratory setting under proper ventilation
  • During a theatrical performance in either the O’Kane Theatre or Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium


Fog and haze present a number of safety concerns.


  • High concentrations of fog can obscure the visibility of exit signs, exit doors and pathways, which is prohibited by Fire Codes
  • Fog at high concentrations can set off smoke detectors that are in the HVAC system, activate the fire alarm and disrupt the event
  • Glycol solutions used to produce fog may cause irritation of eyes, nose and throat as well as allergic reactions at high concentrations


As a result of these and other safety concerns, the use of any machine, device or chemical to create fog, foam or a haze-like visual effect, is limited by the UHD EHS Office.  The limited use during a theatrical performance and for special events will be allowed with the following precautions:


  • A safety plan and with fire attendant details must be submitted to the UHD EHS Office for approval
  • The EHS Office must be notified of the intended use of fog or haze at least seven days prior to the event
  • The Facilities Management Department will deactivate smoke detectors in the immediate area during event


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Theatrical Events

Set designs and construction for all theatrical events must be reviewed and approved prior to construction by Theatre Arts Technical Experts.  Contact the Arts & Humanities Department at 713-221-8104


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Multi-Media Equipment for Events

Multimedia Equipment Rental

If you would like to rent multimedia equipment, please contact IT located in the TTLC (A729), phone number 713-221-8190.  Keep in mind that all multimedia requests must be made at least 24 hours prior to your event.  The student organization advisor must be present throughout the event in order to reserve multimedia equipment.  It is the responsibility of the organization to pay for multimedia reservation equipment.  Contact the Multimedia Services Department for the list of multimedia equipment that can be rented and rental prices.  Keep in mind that prices are subject to change. 


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Police for Events


UHD police services are available through the UHD Police Department.  Organizations requesting police services are responsible for payment.  A request for services can be made through the Office of Community Relations and Conference Services located in S625 or call x8580.   


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Reservation Forms

Special Event Rooms

Special events, meetings, fund raising, conferences, training and other occasions may require a variety of reservation forms.  These forms are used to reserve rooms, arrange tables, set up space, reserve parking and allow alcohol along with a number of other detail items that allow the event to operate successfully as planned.  The forms are to be completed and turned into the appropriate party a minimum of five (5) working days prior to the event.  Contact Community Relations and Conference Services (CR&CS) at x8580 or in S625 for information on these forms.  In addition, the CR&CS office also collects all Food Services Application forms (see below).


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Food Services Guidelines



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Food Services Application

All campus events that involve serving food, drinks or food related items require a Food Services Application (see Appendix).  Complete the form and submit it to Community Relations and Conference Services (CR&CS) at x8580 or in S625 for review and approval.  The CR-CS Office will forward the application to the EHS Office for further review/approval as needed.


  • Please submit your form at least five (5) business days (ten (10) business days if your event is catered, a fundraiser, or uses an open flame) prior to the date of the event to allow CR-CS to properly review your applications
  • If the only food items to be served at your event are distributed in pre-packaged air tight sealed containers, the Food Services Application Form will still be needed
  • If a food vendor (caterer, restaurant, etc) provides on-site service (set-up, serving, etc), a UHD Temporary Food Dealer’s Permit is required
                • This will require a contract.  Contact LaShonda White in the UHD Contract Administration Office at 713-223-7928 or


Please contact the CR-CS Office if you have any questions or if additional information associated with your event (i.e. Temporary Food Dealer’s Permit, Open Flame Permit for Special Events, etc) is needed.


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Temporary Food Dealer’s Permit Requirements

A UHD Temporary Food Dealer’s Permit is required when any registered student organization, department, faculty or staff member serves perishable foods (see next section – Classification of Perishable Foods) during their event and/or is hosting one or more of the following types of events:


  • An activity where the general public is invited to the event (e.g. Festival Event Booth )
  • An activity only for the campus community (e.g. fundraiser in Academic Building or Shea Street Building)


If you have any questions or concerns regarding UHD Temporary Food Dealer’s Permits, please contact the CR-CS Office at x8580 or in S625


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Classification of Perishable Foods


Meat and Poultry Products

Beef, pork, lamb, mutton, veal, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, etc. Includes pizza or sandwiches with meat product(s) served at a fundraising event


Animal Based Byproducts

Gravies/soups/broth made from animal stock or containing animal products


Fish and Seafood Products

All types of fresh or salt-water finfish, mollusks (e.g. squid, octopus, etc.), crustaceans (e.g. crab, etc.) and shellfish (e.g. mussels, clams, oysters, etc.).


Egg Products

From any animal that produces eggs for human consumption (e.g. chicken, duck, or goose).


Milk and Egg Based Byproducts

Foods that contain milk or egg products. Includes dry (powdered) egg concentrates (e.g. eggbeaters) after water is added to product and items such as custards, cheesecake, etc.


Soy Products

Tofu and other soy products (e.g. soy milk, etc.)


Raw Fruits and Vegetables

Raw seed sprouts (e.g. bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, etc.) and cut melons


Cooked Legumes, Grains and Vegetables

Beans, rice, pastas and other cereal grains; most vegetables, especially baked potatoes, since they become perishable after they are cooked


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UHD Required Procedures

  • The UHD Temporary Food Dealer’s Permit must be displayed during event
  • UHD issued permits expire upon completion of the event.  If the event is postponed, please contact the EHS Office for a permit extension
  • Cooking any food item inside any UHD building is not allowed. (Cooking food requires an approved kitchen.  The only approved kitchen on the UHD campus is the Food Court Cafeteria, which is only available to Aramark employees).
  • All outside caterers or vendors providing food services at UHD must:
                • Have in their possession at the UHD campus a valid Food Permit issued by any/all of these outside agencies: City of Houston, Harris County or the State of Texas (see Appendix for sample(s))
                • Employ a Certified Food Service Manager who must be present if food is served on site 
                • Submit copies of the outside agency’s permit and the Food Service Manager’s Certificate at least ten (10) days prior to the event (as an alternative, you can select from the Pre-Approved Food Vendor List located in the CR-CS Office)
  • Faculty, staff or students planning a catered event on campus must follow all rules and regulations mandated by UHD and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS)
  • Events that require the use of a barbecue pit, reheating or hot holding device, or anything that requires an open flame must obtain an Open Flame Permit from the EHS Office. Refer to the “Open Flame Permit for Special Events” section on page 19
  • Home cooked food items, with the exception of cakes/fruit pies/cookies/bread/candy, are not to be served during any public event


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Food Safety Procedures

(Taken from: The Texas Department of State Health Services Rules on Temporary Food Establishments 229.170; Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) Field Inspection Manual; the City of Houston Food Ordinance – Chapter 20 – Food and Drugs, Article II, Division 1; the UHD Food Services Sanitation Manual.)


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A food establishment where food is completely or partially prepared for delivery to a customer and food is transported to the customer at a separate location where it is meant to be served and consumed

Critical Control Point

Any point or procedure in a specific food system where loss of control may result in an unacceptable health risk


Dust, dirt, insect excretions or secretions, insect body parts, rodent hairs or excretions, feathers, or any foreign or injurious contamination


Any raw, cooked or processed edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption

Food-Contact Surface

Those surfaces of equipment and utensils with which food normally comes in contact, and those surfaces from which food may drain, drip, or splash back onto surfaces normally in contact with food

Food Establishment

An operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves or otherwise provides food for human consumption such as: a food service establishment; retail food store; satellite or catered feeding location; catering operation if the operation provides food directly to a consumer or to a conveyance used to transport people; market; remote catered operations; conveyance used to transport people, institution; or food bank; and that relinquishes possession of food to a consumer directly, or indirectly through a delivery service such as home delivery of grocery orders or restaurant takeout orders , or delivery service that is provided by common carriers. The term does not include: an establishment that offers only prepackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous; a produce stand that only offers whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables; a food processing plant; a kitchen in a private home if only food that is not potentially hazardous is prepared for sale; a Bed and Breakfast Limited facility as defined in these rules; or a private home

Food Service Manager

The person assigned to work within a food preparation area who is the apparent supervisor of food manufacturing, production, preparation, processing or packing activities therein at the time


Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is a technique and a thought process that treats the storage, preparation and service of food as a continuous system. The premise being, that if every step of the food preparation process is carried out correctly, the end product will be safe food


Any biological, chemical or physical property that may cause an unacceptable consumer health risk.


A complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole


The origination and development of a disease. Causing or capable of causing disease (pathogen: a specific causative agent [as a bacterium or virus] or disease)

Potentially Hazardous Foods

Any food whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacean, or other ingredients, including synthetic ingredients, in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. The term does not include foods which have a pH level of 4.5 or below or a water activity (Aw) value of 0.85 or less

Pre-Packaged & Sealed

Pertains to cooked and/or prepared food items that are packaged and air-tight sealed at source location following strict controls.  Examples: cookies, pastries, crackers, chips, pickles, pretzels, cured meat, etc.


Pertains to food items made off site and individually wrapped and boxed for delivery


An estimate of the likely occurrence of a hazard or danger

School Food Establishment

A food service establishment where food is prepared and intended for service primarily to students in institutions of learning including, but not limited to, public and private schools, high schools, colleges and universities. A school food establishment is classified as a food establishment


This is the trademark name for a canned liquid cooking fuel

Temporary Food Service Facility

Any food service facility that operates at a fixed location for a period of time of not more than fourteen (14) consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration

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Potentially Hazardous Foods

These are foods associated with potential food borne illnesses. As a rule of thumb, these foods have high water content and allow the growth of bacteria. Proper temperatures can reduce the risk factors considerably. These include food of animal origin, including shell eggs that are raw or heat-treated; a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons and un-modified garlic–in-oil mixture.  Under no circumstances shall the following potentially hazardous foods and beverages be prepared or sold at public events (unless prepared, transported and served by a city or county permitted food vendor/facility/caterer):


  • Wild game such as venison, wild turkey and other non-inspected meat products
  • Home canned products such as pickles or relish
  • Dessert items which have a cream, whipped cream, or custard filling or icing, such as homemade pumpkin pies, non-fruits pies and eclairs
  • Beverages containing raw eggs or raw egg substitute


This prohibition does not apply to potential hazardous food or beverage if prepared and packaged under condition meeting state and local food rules.  Proper cooking temperatures are to be observed when preparing meats and other foods for public consumption.  Meats and poultry products shall be cooked to the following minimum internal temperatures:


  • Poultry = 165° F
  • Ground meats = 155° F
  • Pork, eggs, fish = 145° F


In addition, proper food storage procedures below must be followed.



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Food Storage/Presentation

Foods that are potentially hazardous need to be refrigerated to minimize bacterial growth. Refrigerator temperatures are to be maintained at 41° F or less and foods should not be kept longer than 7 days in the refrigerator. When presenting foods (serving) in a buffet style, cold foods like potato salad or cold meats, are to be kept chilled to less than or equal to 41° F.  Hot foods, like hamburgers and cooked vegetables, are to be maintained at a temperature greater than or equal to 135° F.


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Bacterial Information

Bacteria are found everywhere. Some are harmful and some are not. It is important to keep the growth potential of bacteria to a minimum.  Maintaining the temperatures in the previous section will help prevent food borne illnesses.


 Ideal growth of bacteria is in the temperature range of 41°F - 135°F. Due to the growth in this range, we try to keep potentially hazardous foods outside these temperatures and take the foods quickly through this temperature range when heating or cooling foods.

Wiping clean and sanitizing all surfaces periodically while preparing as well as during the event must be conducted.  In addition, all utensils must be kept cleaned and sanitized during event to prevent cross contamination during use.



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It is important to serve condiments in single service packets or in squeeze bottles with sealable lids to prevent cross contamination.


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Ice can be obtained only in chipped, crushed, or cubed form and in single use safe plastic or wet strength paper bags filled and sealed at the manufacturer’s point of sale.  Ice that is consumed or that contacts food shall be dispensed only by food service worker with scoops, tongs, other ice-dispensing utensils or through automatic self-service, ice dispensing equipment.  Ice-dispensing utensils are to be stored on a clean surface or in the ice with the dispensing utensil’s handle extended out of the ice. 


Between uses, ice transfer receptacles are to be stored in a way that protects them from contamination and maintained separate from ice used for refrigeration purposes. Ice storage bins shall be drained through an air gap.


Ice may be obtained from UHD automatic ice dispensing equipment. Ice must be transported in containers with a low center of gravity (I.e. an ice chest and not tall beverage cart coolers.) Many spills have occurred at UHD as a result of transporting ice in tall containers (unstable while being transferred).


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Food Service Workers

Persons serving foods must have clean hands at all times, clean outer garments, adequate hair restraints (caps or hairnets), and not suffer from respiratory, intestinal, or skin infections.  In addition, the food service provider must:


  • Wash their hands before handling food and at frequent intervals.
  • Smoking in food booths or by serving areas is prohibited.  Smoke only in designated smoking areas.
  • Avoid direct contact with food and should instead use scoops, tongs, or disposable gloves.
  • Wash their hands each time they leave the stand, after taking breaks or using toilet facilities.


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Suspension of Permit

The CR&CS or EHS Office may suspend any permit to operate a temporary food facility or catered event if:

  • The permit holder does not comply with the requirements of these guidelines or the UHD Food Services Sanitation Manual 
  • The operation of the temporary food facility or event:
              • Does not comply with the requirements of these guidelines or the UHD Food Services Sanitation Manual
              • Constitutes a substantial or imminent health hazard to the public.

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Illegal Vendor 

Any unauthorized or unpermitted vendor found participating in an event shall be required to leave the event premises by the UHD Police, CR&CS, or EHS Office. .


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Promoter/Sponsor Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the promoter/sponsor to ensure that only vendors permitted by the CR&CS Office are allowed to participate in their event. The promoter/sponsor must also notify the CR&CS Office at least 10 days prior to any event taking place by providing a list of food vendors or organizations who will be allowed by that promoter/sponsor to participate in the event.

Enforcement will be enacted in accordance with these guidelines and current UHD Food Services Sanitation Manual.


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Closing Summary

These guidelines were developed to provide you with information to ensure your events are as safe as possible and that the foods you serve at your buffets, receptions, or festival events are safe. 


Restaurants and supermarket deli's follow important sanitation rules during preparation of food, so that consumers receive a safe and wholesome product.  Once that food is purchased or delivered, however, the responsibility for keeping it safe is yours.  Take-out foods are perishable and can cause illness if handled improperly.

Simple Rules

  • Make sure all electrical needs are discussed with Facilities Management prior to your event.
                • Power is adequate to run equipment during your event
                • Extension cords and wires are secured with cord covers or ramps, taped down or otherwise properly secured
                • Extension cords are properly rated for the equipment used
                • Power surge protectors are never plugged into an extension cord an extension cords are never plugged into  a surge
  • Once Facilities Management has set up an event please do not move any furniture or equipment without first contacting someone from the Community Relations and Conference Services (CR-CS) Department.  Blocking emergency/fire exits or equipment is a violation of State Fire Codes
  • If Facilities Management is not utilized for setup/decoration and outside party planners are hired, please submit the event layout and procedures to the CR&CS Office for the EHS Office to review and approve. Specify if additional equipment with inherent hazards will be used, such as scaffolding, ladders, cutting tools and/or chemical products
  • Verify no decorations are near or touching any candles and/or hot lights
  • Verify flammable materials (drapes, table clothes, etc.) are not used
  • Cooking of any food item inside any building is not allowed unless it occurs in an approved kitchen.  The Food Court cafeteria is the only approved kitchen at present time and food preparation is restricted to Aramark employees


Food Temperatures

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold (above 135° F or below 41° F)

        • Arrange for pick-up or delivery of meals so you can eat the food almost immediately, when maximum quality and safety can be ensured
        • If you have to hold the food for any length of time (over two hours) , keep it HOT, which means the food must have an internal temperature above 135° F. Just keeping it warm doesn't ensure safety


What if I pick up the food in the morning, but won't serve it until evening?

        • If you are eating much later, the food will taste better and be safer if you refrigerate and reheat it just before serving
        • Divide large quantities into shallow containers (2” or less) for quick cooling, cover loosely, and refrigerate immediately
        • Always reheat cooked foods or leftovers until they are hot and steaming (165° F)


What about salads, deli meats and foods that are purchased or delivered cold?

        • Remember to keep cold foods COLD (41° F or below). The life of most deli meats and foods is short. Roast beef, chicken breast, and turkey have a shorter refrigerator life than processed meats or cold cuts
        • Buy reasonable quantities
        • If food won't be served soon, refrigerate it immediately
        • Properly wrap and freeze deli meats that won't be used within two to four days
        • If entertaining, set out small amounts at a time and replace with fresh platters (rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already has food on it)
        • Keep food cold on the buffet table by nesting dishes in bowls of ice
        • REMEMBER most food poisoning bacteria can NOT be seen, smelled, or tasted


If in doubt, throw it out!


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Last updated or reviewed on 1/31/14

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