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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Old 08-07-2018, 11:01 PM   #1
Swine Spectator
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Hey folks,

I am not a caterer or restaurateur. I have worked in restaurants and cooked many times for school fairs, church functions, and large camp outs. I have cooked for as many as 500 people. Food safety is of utmost importance to me. I joke that I am not a chef, but I am responsible for making sure that no one gets salmonella. I say all this to explain that, all though I am not a caterer, I am comfortable that I can help the neighbor who asked me to cook for his business association.

He saw my new Shirley and asked if I would cater their party in September. We are still in discussions as to timing, menu, and number of people. He said, "We'd like to hire you for our party."

Now here's my question: If you are my friend, I'll cook for any party you have as long as you cover my costs. However, in this particular case, I kinda know the neighbor and he's not paying, his business association is. My concern is that if I do it "at cost", they will expect me to do so in the future. Should I charge them a fee above my cost? If so, any suggestions on what to charge? Should I charge per head? per pound? a flat fee? Help!

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David
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:32 AM   #2
IamMadMan
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You asked the question, so don't get mad at my response;

Without being incorporated as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), having food service liability insurance, all the proper permits, licenses, certifications, and required inspections, that you are taking a huge financial risk without limits.

No one should engage in the food business without being incorporated as a legitimate business. Without being incorporated you and all of your assets owned by you and your family are up for grabs in a lawsuit. Incorporating separates you and your personal assets from those of the recognized corporate entity. In a lawsuit they can sue the corporation but cannot come after you unless you blatantly caused harm as an individual.

If you are planning on catering an event, even for a friend you should be aware of the laws and the risks involved. By ignoring these and not investigating the legal requirements for any event, you are putting yourself at a great risk. Ignorance of the laws and regulations are not a defense, in fact it will just help to build a stronger case against you if something should go wrong. More importantly, something doesn't actually have to go wrong, one only needs to claim they got ill from your food.

First: Are you incorporated as a Limited Liability Corporation?

Second: Will you be operating within State, Local, and Health Department regulations?
Do you have a business license, a food handlers permit, and will you prepare the food in a health department approved and inspected commercial kitchen?

Third: Do you have the proper liability insurance to cover you and the patrons?

Fourth and lastly... are you Serve-Safe Certified?


Be aware that without these qualifications and being fully covered with insurance, you are taking a huge huge risk both personally and financially.

Without proper procedure and requirements, there are too many risks and not enough rewards. What legal ramifications are you willing to endure should this become an issue of someone getting ill?


How much of your personal assets are you willing to risk due to foodborne illness issues should they occur?



Or if someone claims they became ill sometime after eating your food. If a civil suit is brought against you because of this claim, you could lose your home, your savings, everything you own, and even your investments.

It might be difficult to prove with a single case, but what if someone who handles the food in the chain accidentally contaminates something. You will have more than one case from the event. Then you have an unlicensed food handler, who is not using a state approved and inspected kitchen, and who has failed to get all the required permits, certifications, licenses, and local inspections.

It's not just the fines and penalties from the state and local authorities for operating illegally, but when you have a civil suit filed against you, the tables turn. Just the fact that you ignored all the required permits, licenses, certifications, and inspections are stacked against you.



Couple that with many states who do not elect judges, but rather politically appoint them; then you could have an inexperienced judge in law who has their own interpretation or opinion of the law to deal with. Some of these appointed judges do not know the law and may make decisions based on personal opinions.

As stated above the extreme fines and penalties imposed by the state, county, and local authorities can't be argued in a court of law, ignorance of them just isn't a feasible defense. The legal fees can be exorbitant, even if they can't prove their case. This is why many find it easier just to settle out of court than run the legal gamut.

You also have many corporations that have tried to fight a case of stupidity in court and have lost millions trying to win. Look at the case of a patron who ordered hot coffee and drank it while operating a motor vehicle. Consequently they spilled hot coffee on themselves as a direct result of their own personal action. Yet a good lawyer put the blame on the corporation, and they successfully sued for over a million dollars. Common sense does not prevail in a litigious society.

My intent is not to discourage you, but to point out the possible ramifications of this type of event without the proper "coverage", "licenses", "certifications" and "permits".

Some think they have a legal defense because:

Some would say that they are doing this as a hired hand and they should be covered under the companies / organizations insurance policy. Not true, unless you are getting a weekly paycheck and paying into workman's compensation, disability insurance, state and federal taxes, then you are not an employee. If you are paying these taxes you could be considered an employee, but you could also be held personally liable as a co-defendant because you used your personal equipment to cook the food.

Secondly if you are using your own equipment to cook with, many states view this as a sub-contractor status where YOU are responsible for all of your own permits, licenses, and liability insurance. So again, you have legal fees to defend a lawsuit, coupled with fines and penalties imposed by the state, county, and local authorities.

Most importantly, if you do this for a friend you trust, they may not sue you, but then you have to worry about the many others who will be in attendance. Some might be looking for an easy way to make a quick buck. How lucky do you feel?

But yet others will claim being free from everything because they are selling food by the tray/pan. However unless you are legally licensed to sell cold / frozen foods, then you have lost control of the food until it was served;

You are responsible to properly prepare, maintain, and/or serve food fit for human consumption.

You are responsible to properly take the temperature of the food at the time of service.

You are responsible to ensure all persons were wearing gloves while prepping and serving the food.


It may be a one in a million case that someone becomes ill, but we live in a litigious society today. People make false claims all the time in an effort to sue for personal gain. If you are prepared to risk it ALL then go ahead. Otherwise walk away until you do the necessary diligence to cover yourself.

This is a totally different thing than just cooking great BBQ for your family in your back yard for personal friends.

It only takes one to claim you made them ill......

http://wcti12.com/news/nation-world/...ption-got-sick

https://www.syracuse.com/news/index....ently_ill.html


As far as food preparation;
The kitchen in which food is prepared is subject to the Uniform Building Construction Code. To my knowledge, all 50 states use this code and even expand further upon it with even more local regulations. In general, the Uniform Building Code states: any kitchen that is used to prepare food that is not served immediately on premises must be to current local health codes. Also be aware that all parts of the building that has access to the kitchen must also meet those codes, not just the kitchen area.

A few other states allow for certain uses if your "APPROVED" kitchen is separate from the home, where you cannot pass from the approved kitchen into the home. In other words, you must completely leave the kitchen structure (pass outside) to access the the house, then you could possibly have that kitchen approved. This is not always the case, it is dependent upon your local authorities.


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Old 08-08-2018, 06:18 AM   #3
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Thank you for this. All extremely valid points that I had not considered.

I guess I've put myself in a bit of a spot now, as I've told them I would do this...

My neighbor is hosting the party is at his house. What about this: If he buys the supplies and we use his kitchen, and I don't charge them - all I do is tow my smoker over to his house and cook - have I stayed out of "the catering business"?
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Off the Shirley waitlist - It was worth the wait.

(Former pits: Klose 20" x 48" (aka: "Smokey Mary"), New Braunfel's El Dorado)
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swine Spectator View Post
Thank you for this. All extremely valid points that I had not considered.

I guess I've put myself in a bit of a spot now, as I've told them I would do this...

My neighbor is hosting the party is at his house. What about this: If he buys the supplies and we use his kitchen, and I don't charge them - all I do is tow my smoker over to his house and cook - have I stayed out of "the catering business"?

Sounds much better as long as he owns up to he is cooking everything. If he is hosting at his house and they are his guests (no fee) then it would be like inviting friends to dinner.
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:35 AM   #5
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Or you could suggest the group hire a legit caterer who could probably use the income. Nothing more rewarding than having a good job canceled because a neighbor offered to cook for an event.
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:19 PM   #6
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IamMadMan...great info and I do agree. I posted this in a different section for catering, but what are your thoughts on all these “underground bbq” joints popping up around the country and cooking/selling from their homes to people they connect with via Instagram?

https://www.dallasobserver.com/resta...p-ups-10839056

https://la.eater.com/2017/2/17/14651...io-city-photos

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/n...etro&smtyp=cur

This is only a few of them and it’s apparently been going on for years now with some people. Obviously, we all know it’s 100% illegal, but I’m wondering why none of these guys has been sued yet and why they’re willing to take such extreme risk? And only a few of them have actually been caught...
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:20 PM   #7
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I only read the first few lines of @IamMadMan's post, but that is what I was going to say about the permits, licensing thing. Especially if the company is paying (not the neighbor) I would think they would want to see certifications before cutting a check.
After you get that figured out...Hell Yeah charge them!!! and absolutely add some in for your time and effort and equipment (not just for cost).
Does he and/or the company know you are not licensed? In our sue happy society, I would make that clear to the payers.
Good Luck!
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:13 PM   #8
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"Does he and/or the company know you are not licensed? In our sue happy society, I would make that clear to the payers." every one of IamMadMan's points are as valid as concrete. A company party would be an utter minefield of risk. It is truly amazing how many people think "BBQ" excuses all the health dept requirements...it does not. The risks are there and up front. Your neighbor most likely does not understand the risks either..or HE should be adverse to accepting the risk as well. If someone gets sick there is rarely one defendant. Lawyers try to hit as many responsible as they can to increase the payout. The business owner would most likely be named in the suit as well. If he was made aware of this he might change his mind...just sayin. Even if you do it "free" they can sue. Although they will have a harder time in court, it is absolutely not impossible for them to win. Although I believe the brunt would go onto the business owner instead of onto "you".
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q_Done_Right View Post
IamMadMan...great info and I do agree. I posted this in a different section for catering, but what are your thoughts on all these “underground bbq” joints popping up around the country and cooking/selling from their homes to people they connect with via Instagram?

https://www.dallasobserver.com/resta...p-ups-10839056

https://la.eater.com/2017/2/17/14651...io-city-photos

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/n...etro&smtyp=cur

This is only a few of them and it’s apparently been going on for years now with some people. Obviously, we all know it’s 100% illegal, but I’m wondering why none of these guys has been sued yet and why they’re willing to take such extreme risk? And only a few of them have actually been caught...



Seems that above links are invalid or broken.


I do know of one family who sold Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, and Salads out of their driveway / garage on community yard sale day. They got away the first year with a sizeable profit, the second year they were cited and had fines totaling just slightly north of $8,000.00.



Although I can't see your articles because of the bad links, if it's a food truck, they are covered. But I did see an article awhile back where they would host a BBQ party in a back yard and tweet it. Many said it was the best BBQ they had, but the article didn't state if monies were exchanged or not. I would presume if there were no funds exchanged, it would be legal.... Simply guests arriving to socialize with each other.


But any type of exchange (Money, Goods, Services, ect) and that idea goes down the drain.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamMadMan View Post
Seems that above links are invalid or broken.


I do know of one family who sold Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, and Salads out of their driveway / garage on community yard sale day. They got away the first year with a sizeable profit, the second year they were cited and had fines totaling just slightly north of $8,000.00.



Although I can't see your articles because of the bad links, if it's a food truck, they are covered. But I did see an article awhile back where they would host a BBQ party in a back yard and tweet it. Many said it was the best BBQ they had, but the article didn't state if monies were exchanged or not. I would presume if there were no funds exchanged, it would be legal.... Simply guests arriving to socialize with each other.


But any type of exchange (Money, Goods, Services, ect) and that idea goes down the drain.
Sorry about the links...they were working before and are still good online where I found them; must have done something wrong. But yes, all these guys are flat out cooking AND selling barbecue right from their front or backyards for actual compensation to complete strangers they meet online through Instagram. People DM them orders for the dates they cook. And these guys have thousands of followers online and are getting a ton of press about it in the media. It’s crazy. Nobody has sued any of them from what I’ve heard. It’s being done in California, Texas, Virginia and other places. Like I said though, I’m just shocked these guys put themselves at such risk.
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