Food Safety/Sanitation

This program outlines the safety steps student groups must follow if they plan to sell or offer food on campus. 

Any solicitation or sale of food on campus that will be consumed, and open to the CSUN community or general public, requires approval. Additionally, because of the potential for foodborne illness, the sale or distribution of food at certain events must be screened through the Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) Department.  All On-Campus University Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) & University Departments planning to sell, give away, or offer food on campus need to go through the Matador Involvement Center (MIC) by submitting a Reserve Outdoor or Tabling Space for a Recognized Student Organization (RSO) or Reserve Outdoor or Tabling Space for a University Program or Department form, and need to review the Food Safety Guidelines.  Depending on the type of event the food will be offered at, form submissions can take seven (7) to thirty (30) business days to process.  Form submissions that require a Special Events Request must be submitted at least one month in advance, and submissions involving potentially hazardous foods can take two to four weeks to process.  Please also note that all groups must comply with CSUN’s “Commercially Oriented Activity” policy.   Failure to comply with the guidelines may result in the loss of food and/or beverage selling/serving privileges. Any unauthorized food activity is subject to an immediate closure.

I. Potentially and Non-Potentially Hazardous Food

Potentially Hazardous Food

The California Retail Food Code (section 113871 of the California Health & Safety Code) defines potentially hazardous food as "food that requires time or temperature control to limit pathogenic micro-organism growth or toxin formation.  Potentially hazardous food includes a food of animal origin that is raw or heat-treated, a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified to render them unable to support pathogenic micro-organism growth or toxin formation, and garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not acidified or otherwise modified at a food processing plant in a way that results in mixtures that do not support growth or toxin formation.”  These are commonly known as perishable food items.  Examples of potentially hazardous foods include but are not limited to:

  • Whipped Cream or custard-filled baked goods such as pies or cakes

  • Poultry, egg, pork or beef products

  • Potato, macaroni, fish or chicken salads

  • Meat and Fish sauces

  • Milk and Milk Product

  • Cooked pasta and vegetables (e.g., refried beans)

  • Casseroles, soup and vegetable juices

Non-Potentially Hazardous Food

Foods are non-perishable food items that are prepackaged, labeled, and do not require refrigeration.  Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Candies, cookies or crackers

  • Chocolates

  • Dried fruits

  • Baked goods (without cream, custard or meat fillings)

  • Doughnuts (without cream or custard fillings)

  • Bottled drinks

  • Powdered Coffee Creamer

  • Popcorn or cotton candy


II. Food Preparation and Storage

Food may not be prepared or stored at home and no home-made foods are permitted.  In addition, no frying of food is allowed.  A limited amount of food preparation (such as mixing a drink or cooking food) may be permitted with the approval from the EH&S Department.  Food must be stored, obtained, and prepared from an approved source that is a permitted commercial or food establishment, such as a market or restaurant that has a valid health permit.  The County of LA Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Division  permits these types of facilities that are located within Los Angeles County; visit the County of LA Public Health Food Facility Inspections webpage to see if a food facility has a current Los Angeles County permit. Once purchased, food must be brought immediately to the location of the food event on campus.  Potentially hazardous food cannot be transported for longer than 30 minutes.  Food must be 6 inches off the ground, covered and protected from contamination and away from customer contact, insects, dust, hair and other contaminate sources during the transportation, minor preparation process, and throughout the food event. Raw meats should be stored separately from ready to eat foods.  Cold foods should be stored in an ice chest that have sufficient ice to surround it.  Surfaces and utensils used for limited food preparations must be clean and sanitized.  Sink and food kits must be obtained by MIC.  Propane grilling can only be done at the Matador Square with a fire extinguisher provided by MIC. Charcoal grills and fryers are not allowed.


III. Temperature Control for Perishable Foods

Perishable foods must be kept within the correct temperature range at all times with few exceptions. "Cold Foods" (e.g., raw or uncooked meat or milk) must be kept at or below 41°F and "Hot Foods" (e.g., cooked meat or hot soup) must be kept at or above 135°F). At least one probe thermometer should be used every two hours to reassure all hot and cold foods are held at the required holding temperature.


IV.  Food Handling and Training

It is extremely important that all food is handled properly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.  Therefore, all instructions on the Food Safety Guidelines for Selling/Offering Food must be strictly adhered to.  In addition, if you are required to submit a form to offer/sell food on campus, someone in your organization who will be available during your food event, must have an appropriate amount of food handling training.  This typically means having some type of food handling certificate.


V. Forms


VI. References/Resources


VII. Revision Record





Minor revisions

January 15, 2014



December 2018


Major revision, add new links, and update links

October 2022


Safety Food Guidelines revision and update food form links

May 2023


Minor revisions and update form links

March 2024