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Guidelines for Open-Air BBQ's

Last modified: 3/5/2012 11:53 AM

Guidelines for Open-Air BBQ's

Adopted by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health

  1. Background
  2. Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Structural Requirements
  5. Operational Requirements

    Article 9 of the California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law (CURFFL) contains requirements for the use of open-air barbecue facilities, which are defined in Section 113830. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide uniform minimum structural and operational criteria to assure that proper health and sanitation standards are met.

  2. SCOPE

    The provisions of the Health and Safety Code which permit the use of an open-air barbecue facility apply only to approved food facilities where the barbecue is operated on the same premises as, and in conjunction with, a food establishment, temporary food facility, or stationary mobile food preparation unit.


    1. Approved food establishment - shall mean those food establishments that meet all of the requirements of CURFFL for the preparation and service of un-packaged foods, and which possess a valid health permit.
    2. Open-air barbecue facility - shall mean an unenclosed facility for barbecuing food, where the food is prepared out of doors by cooking directly over hot coals, heated lava, hot stones, gas flame, or other method approved by the State Department of Health Services, on equipment suitably designed and maintained for use out of doors, that is operated by an approved food establishment, stationary mobile food preparation unit or temporary food facility (Section 113830).
    3. Permanent barbecue facility - shall mean a barbecue unit which is permanently fixed in place.
    4. Temporary barbecue facility - shall mean a barbecue unit which is of such size and design so as to be readily movable to storage and clean up facilities.

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    1. Only those food establishments, temporary food facilities and stationary mobile food preparation units which meet the requirements for food preparation and service will be approved to operate and maintain an open-air barbecue facility. Adequate storage space and preparation space shall be provided to accommodate the operation of the open-air barbecue so as not to interfere with the sanitary operation of the food establishment.
    2. If the barbecue facility is a permanent structure, it shall be equipped and maintained with a floor surface which is smooth, nonabsorbent, durable and easily cleanable. This floor surface must extend a minimum of five (5) feet from the open-air barbecue on all open sides. When wall surfaces are within five (5) feet of the permanent open-air barbecue they shall be durable, smooth, nonabsorbent and washable.
    3. The barbecue facility may not be operated in, or out of any motor vehicle as determined by the enforcement officer. For the purposes of this section a motor vehicle does not include a stationary mobile food preparation unit as defined in Section 113890.
    4. The floor surface on which a temporary barbecue facility is located shall be smooth and easily cleanable. The floor must be of wood, metal, tile, concrete, asphalt or other acceptable material.
    5. The barbecue facility should be located in an area which suitably protects the food and equipment from dust, dirt and overhead contamination. The surface of the ground adjacent to the barbecue facility must consist of a material which will inhibit the generation of dust.
    6. The barbecue unit and all accessory equipment associated with its operation must be made of nontoxic materials, constructed so as to be readily and easily cleaned, kept clean, and maintained in good repair, and designed for its intended use. Materials used in the construction of a barbecue unit shall have all exterior surfaces flush, smooth and made nonabsorbent by utilizing an approved sealer. Food contact surfaces shall meet or be equivalent to approved applicable sanitation standards.
    7. All accessory equipment located at an open-air barbecue site (other than the barbecue unit) shall be portable. No permanently installed equipment, structures, counters or enclosures are permitted. Permanently installed electrical or plumbing connections to food equipment are not permitted other than gas lines to the barbecue unit.
    8. Approved toilet and handwashing facilities which are on the same premises as the on-site food facility shall be available for use within 200 feet of the barbecue facility. All restroom and handwashing facilities shall be kept clean and in good repair. All handwashing facilities associated with the barbecue operation shall be approved by the enforcement officer prior to use. Handwash and toilet facilities which are not approved shall not be located closer to the barbecue facility than the required, approved facilities.

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    1. Foods which are intended to be stored at or served from an open-air barbecue facility are limited to foods cooked directly upon the barbecue and condiments such as relish, onions or catsup which are prepackaged or dispensed from approved pump-type, pour-type, squeeze-type containers or fully enclosed dispensing systems. Buns, rolls or garnishes such as lettuce, tomatoes or pickles are not permitted to be stored or served from an open-air barbecue facility unless dispensed from units approved by the enforcement officer.
    2. All foods held at a barbecue facility must be returned to the food establishment during periods when the barbecue is not in use.
    3. No food preparation may take place out of doors except the cooking of foods on the barbecue and the application of condiments to the foods barbecued. No other form of preparation including, but not limited to, forming, trimming, grinding or slicing may take place out of doors.
    4. Foods which are cooked on the barbecue may be dispensed directly from the barbecue unit using sanitary utensils or returned to the food facility for serving.
    5. All food to be cooked on an open-air barbecue shall at all times be reasonably protected from dust, dirt, insects, rodents and other forms of contamination.
    6. All foods capable of supporting the rapid and progressive growth of pathogenic microorganisms shall be maintained according to Section 113995.
    7. An accurate probe type thermometer suitable for measuring the temperature of the potentially hazardous food shall be kept readily available.
    8. All barbecue equipment, utensils and accessory fixtures associated with a barbecue facility are to be kept clean and in good repair. They shall be cleaned daily or more often as needed. Food contact surfaces shall be cleaned and sanitized according to Section 114090.
    9. No barbecue may be operated under conditions in which the foods are likely to be adulterated. The operator of the open-air barbecue shall immediately cease operation and dispensing if unsanitary conditions exist whereby the food may become contaminated, rendered unwholesome or otherwise adulterated (e.g., inclement weather).
    10. No insecticide may be used at an open-air barbecue facility unless it is approved for use within food establishments and it is used in a manner which would not cause contamination of food or utensils.
    11. No live animals, birds, or fowl are to be kept or allowed within 20 feet of any area where food or beverage is prepared, stored, kept or served except as noted in Section 114045(b) of CURFFL.
    12. All food waste or rubbish associated with a barbecue facility shall be placed in disposal bags, impervious to moisture and sealed, or stored in nonabsorbent, rodent proof containers which have tight-fitting lids. All waste containers shall be kept clean and in a sanitary condition.
    13. All equipment associated with a barbecue facility must be returned to approved clean-up and storage facilities at the end of each day's use.
    14. Approved storage facilities shall include accommodations which will properly protect the equipment from contamination when the barbecue facility is not in use. The storage of the barbecue facilities in the on-site food facility shall not interfere with the sanitary operation of the approved on-site facility, and they shall be available during periods when the barbecue is not in operation.
    15. All employees while preparing or serving food at an open-air barbecue facility shall have their hair confined, wear clean, washable outer garments and shall refrain from the use of tobacco in any form.
    16. Open-air barbecue facilities may only be operated by the permittee on the same premises as, and in conjunction with, the on-site food establishment, stationary mobile food preparation unit or temporary food facility.