Food Safety & Licensing

EH&S promotes food safety and helps prevent foodborne illness related to UW–Madison facilities and campus events through licensing, inspections, complaint investigation assistance, policy, guidance and training.

Food Event Checklist

  1. External food vendors must be an existing vendor through UW-Madison Purchasing or provide their certificate of insurance to for approval by Risk Management. Please see the UW-Madison Office of Risk Management Facility Use and Insurance site for requirements and contact for assistance. Copy of the certificate of insurance shall be maintained with any associated event file.
  2. Ensure the space has been requested through Campus Event Services or the facility building manager. More information can be found here:
  3. All external food vendors must have a current Retail license through UW-Madison Environmental & Occupational Health, Public Health Madison & Dane County, or WI Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. Obtain a copy of the vendor’s license for upload in the authorization application. No home-prepared foods are permitted.
  4. Review the temporary food service policy and requirements. Note that an inspection for compliance with requirements may be conducted during your event.
  5. Complete the online application for authorization:
  6. Once your event is approved by Risk Management and Environmental & Occupational Health, you will receive an approval email. Please allow up to 2 weeks for processing.

Additional resources for food events include:

Inspection Reports

Campus food establishment inspection reports are available online.

When reviewing an inspection report, please note current facility state may differ from reported practices from most recent inspection. Violations are identified as being in one of 3 categories of importance:

  • Priority Item: the most critical violation category. These practices are defined by the WI Food Code as: contributes directly to hazards associated with foodborne illness or injury.
  • Priority Foundation Item: a provision in the WI Food Code whose application supports, facilitates, or enables one or more priority items.
  • Core Item: the least critical violation category. These practices usually relate to general sanitation, operational controls, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), facilities or structures, equipment design, or general maintenance.

Food Service Operator Forms

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a temporary food stand?

A temporary food stand is a location where food is prepared, handled, and/or sold in conjunction with a special event, sales promotion, festival, or public exhibition.

When should I start planning for my temporary food event?

It is never too soon to start planning for your event. Your application needs to be submitted a minimum of two weeks prior to your event. You will need to know the following information to fill out your event application: date(s), location(s), approved food vendor(s)/where you getting your food from, person in charge of the event, and the number of people expected at your event.

Who needs prior authorization to serve or sell food on campus?

Anyone who will serve or sell any type of food on campus needs authorization from EOH and Risk Management. Some food types are exempt, please read the “Temporary Food Service Policy” for more information. If you are not sure if your event requires authorization, please fill out an application on EOH’s website and our staff will get back to you.

Who is required to obtain a temporary food license?

For-profit businesses selling food on campus owned or leased grounds in Dane County are required to obtain a temporary food license from EOH. The cost of a temporary food event license is $170 per fiscal year (July 1st–June 30th). Do you already have a Mobile or Temporary License from the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) or another local health department? Please email EOH a copy of your license(s). EOH accepts licenses granted by DATCP and other health departments with DATCP agent status. Food stands that already have a license from DATCP or another health department are subject to inspection by University EOH inspectors. Inspection fees may apply.

How do I know if my food vendor is “licensed”?

You may ask your food vendor to supply you with a copy of their “Retail Food Service” License from DATCP or their local health department. There are many acceptable food service license types. Some examples are:

  • Retail Food Service-Mobile
  • Retail Food Service-Not Serving Meals
  • Retail Food Service-Serving Meals
  • DATCP Food Processing License
  • Restaurant License
  • Mobile Food Cart License
  • Retail Food Store License

If you are unable to obtain a copy of the vendor’s license or unsure if a vendor’s license complies with UW’s requirements, please email for assistance.