Five Days, 11,511 Meals—Catering at the Republican National Convention

Bette Packer, REHS


Presentation Description:  In 2008 St. Paul, Minnesota hosted the Republican nations Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center.  Only four caterers were chosen to service the delegates at the Xcel, one of them being D’Amico Catering from Minneapolis. Learn what additional planning and preparation steps were taken by D’Amico management to assure safe and secure food during an extremely high volume, high profile, highly secured even held over the period of five days, and how the regulatory agencies assisted to help them succeed.


This presentation looks at successful food safety efforts from a licensee perspective, versus the usual enforcement point of view.  It will detail the additional training, food safety and food security efforts that D’Amico Catering of Minneapolis implemented up to and during the summer of 2008 in preparation for the Republican National Convention.  Management committed its entire catering staff to additional training.  They attended meetings for a Ramsey County Environmental Health initiative, with the City of Minneapolis, and with FDA. 


As the food safety consultant for D’Amico, I worked with them through the planning process, providing information and recommendations, attending meetings, doing pre-convention in-house inspections, as well as communicating with the FDA at the catering kitchen and at the Xcel during the RNC.  Since Minnesota does not use the 2005 FDA Food code, there were food handling practices that had to change to meet the standard, in particular for no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.  Cooling hot foods in busy, crowded coolers became a concern, which necessitated extra planning. Refrigerated trucks were rented for storage at the catering kitchen and at the Xcel.  Chefs increased the number of cooling logs, final temp logs, and refrigeration temperature logs. Food security was increased by locking doors that had never been locked during business hours, locking trucks, securing food on the premises, and monitoring vendor deliveries. Additionally there were other external security checks for the catering delivery checks to the Xcel.


The presentation will look closely at the days during the RENC, with photos from the catering facility and the Xcel.  It will evaluate the efforts made by D’Amico and the FDA’s impression of D’Amico’s efforts


Learning Objectives

§         Evaluate staff capacity and knowledge for pre-preparation, storage, and security of food for an extremely high volume, high profile event held over the period of five days.

§         Recognize the amount of planning and preparation a catering company does before such an event to provide safe food, and the work that is done during out the event to carry out these plans.

§         Discover what assistance regulatory staff can provide for a similar event in their own jurisdiction.