Food Concessions: What Concessionaires Need to Know


A Quick Guide on Concession Insurance and Mitigating Risks

No carnival, festival, state fair or theme park is complete without food concessions. Whether it is a corn dog stand, cotton candy, or a unique theme-based concession stand, guests love and look forward to food concessions. 

However, concessionaires must take food safety seriously to protect their customers’ health and to avoid legal liability.

Food safety is essential for any concessionaire, but it can be a complex topic. That is why we have put together this quick guide to help you understand the basics of food safety and concessionaire insurance coverage.

Identifying and Mitigating Food Safety Risks

The most significant risk associated with food is contamination, which can lead to food-borne illness. 

There are two key components of food safety risk: the food itself and the people who handle it.


The first step in mitigating food safety risk is to purchase food from trusted and high-quality sources. Never purchase food past its expiration date or with any signs of spoilage. 

Refrigerated food should always be cold to the touch, frozen food should be hard, and food packaging should not have cracks, dents, tears, or bulges.

The transportation of the food you buy is also important. Cold food should be delivered in refrigerated vehicles or packed properly to maintain proper temperatures during transport.

Food Handlers

Staff who prepare food and staff who serve food are considered food handlers. Improper handling is the biggest contamination risk. Some of the essential mitigation practices for food handlers include:

  • Employees are your first line of defense against food safety risks. Make sure they are properly trained in food safety procedures and are aware of the potential hazards.
  • Food handlers need to wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after handling food. Even when wearing protective gloves, hands should still be washed.
  • Gloves should be changed after every hand washing and when handling different types of food.
  • Food handlers should not be around food if they have any illness symptoms, such as coughing, sniffling, sneezing or fever.
  • Food handlers should wear hair nets and hats to keep hair out of food.
  • Food should never be touched with bare hands. Use utensils or tongs to handle food.
  • Always use an ice scoop instead of bare hands to dispense ice for drinks.

Our experts at McGowan Allied Speciality Insurance also recommend conducting a hazard analysis, a systematic process for identifying and evaluating hazards that could cause food-borne illness. It should include the type of food being produced, ingredients used, processing methods, storage and handling conditions, and intended consumers.

Once hazards have been identified, preventive controls should be implemented to reduce the risk of their occurrence.

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Creating Memorable Concession Stand Food Experiences

Serving Liquor to Avoid Liability 

Food concessions serving alcohol can be held liable for incidents involving intoxicated guests. This is because food concessions have a responsibility to their customers to serve alcohol responsibly and to prevent intoxicated guests from causing harm to themselves or others.

Training helps servers detect intoxication signs and teaches them how to refuse service and handle intoxicated patrons. This is important because it can help to prevent alcohol-related incidents from happening in the first place.

Food concessions serving alcohol should also take the following steps to reduce their liability risk:

  • Set a clear policy on alcohol service and communicate it to all staff.
  • Conduct regular alcohol sales audits to ensure alcohol is being served responsibly.
  • Have a plan for dealing with intoxicated patrons who become disruptive or violent.
  • Make sure your servers are aware of the local laws and regulations governing alcohol service.
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative to alcohol.

Concessionaires selling alcohol should be trained in proper alcohol service. This training should cover the following topics:

  • How to identify signs of intoxication
  • How to promote responsible drinking among your customers
  • When to refuse service to a customer
  • How to handle an intoxicated patron
  • The legal liability of food concessions for alcohol-related incidents

Some states require specific training to serve alcohol. These states typically require servers to complete a training course that covers the topics listed above.

Incorporating Regular Property and Equipment Management

Well-maintained property and equipment is a critical component of food concession risk management, because they are less likely to cause injuries to guests or staff.

Here are some specific tips for maintaining property and equipment at a food concession:

Keep a clean kitchen. Keep grease traps clean and free of debris to prevent a fire. knives should be stored in a safe place where they cannot be accessed by children or unauthorized personnel.

Always mop up spills immediately. Wet floors can be a major slipping hazard, so it is important to make them safe. This includes mopping up spills immediately and using caution cones to identify wet spots.

Keep walking paths clear. Obstacles that can cause trips and falls, like extension cords, should be properly secured and out of the way of foot traffic. This will help to prevent people from tripping over them.

Regularly inspect refrigerators and freezers. Malfunctioning refrigeration units can quickly ruin thousands of dollars in product. Regularly inspect refrigerators and freezers for signs of malfunction. If you notice any problems, have the unit repaired or replaced immediately.

Check heating equipment often. At the first sign of a malfunction, have heating equipment like heat lamps, ranges and stoves inspected by a professional. Heating equipment can be a major fire hazard, so it is important to have it inspected regularly by a qualified professional.

Train your staff on proper maintenance procedures. Your staff should know how to properly maintain the property and equipment at your food concession.

Be proactive. Do not wait for something to break down before you repair it. Be proactive and inspect the property and equipment at your food concession regularly. This will help prevent injuries and costly repairs.


Read More: Food Safety in Concessions: Are You Prepared?

Concessionaire Insurance Coverage Basics

Even when you take all the precautions, accidents and other unexpected events can still happen. The right type of insurance can provide a financial safety net, helping you to stay afloat and continue operating your business. Concessionaires should consider a variety of insurance policies to protect themselves from financial loss.

Here are the top 8 types of insurance for concession stands you should know:

  1. General liability

General liability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance for concession owners. It protects against lawsuits, accidents and oversights that can happen in running a concession stand. This type of insurance is also often a requirement for most commercial leases.

  1. Commercial automobile insurance

Commercial automobile insurance is designed to protect your company from liability associated with the use of motor vehicles for your business. This type of insurance also provides coverage for physical damage to your vehicles, as well as coverage for vehicles you rent, borrow, or are otherwise covered as personally owned autos.

  1. Employers’ liability insurance

This type of commercial liability insurance that protects employers from legal liability for injuries or illnesses sustained by their employees in the course of their employment. It can also help cover the cost of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering if an employee is injured on the job. Employers’ liability insurance is typically required by law in most states.

  1. Excess liability 

Excess liability coverage provides additional coverage limits over your primary commercial general liability (CGL), commercial automobile liability (CAL), and employers’ liability (EL) policies. This type of coverage can be helpful if your primary policies have limits that are not high enough to cover a large claim.

  1. Liquor liability

Liquor liability is a type of specialty insurance that protects businesses that sell or serve alcohol from liability claims arising from the actions of intoxicated patrons. It can cover legal fees, settlements, and medical costs if an intoxicated patron causes property damage, personal injury, or even a motor vehicle accident.

  1. Commercial inland marine insurance

This type of insurance covers a business’s mobile equipment and stock. It helps pay for replacement when business property is lost, damaged, or destroyed. It can cover natural disasters and equipment breakdowns, including food trucks, trailers, and malfunctioning refrigerators, freezers, and ovens.

  1. Workers’ compensation 

Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill because of their job. It is statutorily mandated in most states, meaning it is required by law for businesses to have this type of insurance.

Discover Where Premier Insurance and Peace of Mind Is Always on the Menu

With more than 40 years in the industry, McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance understands the unique risks associated with running a concession stand, and has the experience to help you protect your business from risk. 

If you are looking for premier concession insurance, contact us online or call 727-547-3023 to learn more about our coverage options and to get a personalized quote. 

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