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The Codes, Standards, and Laws Governing the Use of Real Food as Theatrical Props

In the world of theater, authenticity is key, even down to the tiniest details. This includes the use of real food as props, particularly when it comes to scenes where performers consume the food on stage. However, several codes, standards, and laws govern the use of real food in theatrical productions to ensure the safety and well-being of the performers. In this blog post, we will explore these regulations and provide an overview of the sources that shape them.

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
    The OSHA, a federal agency within the United States Department of Labor, plays a vital role in ensuring workplace safety. While OSHA does not specifically address theatrical performances, it provides general guidelines that apply to various industries, including theater. These guidelines emphasize the need for a safe work environment, hazard communication, and the proper handling of hazardous substances. When incorporating real food as props, theater companies should consider these general safety guidelines to protect performers from potential food-related hazards.
  2. Food Safety Codes and Regulations:
    a. United States: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food safety in the United States. The FDA’s Food Code provides guidelines for the safe handling, storage, and preparation of food. Theater companies utilizing real food as props should adhere to these guidelines to prevent foodborne illnesses and ensure the safety of performers. The Food Code covers areas such as proper cooking temperatures, storage conditions, and hygiene practices.

b. International: In countries outside the United States, theater companies should consult the relevant local authorities responsible for food safety. These may include agencies similar to the FDA or specific regulations related to food handling and preparation. Compliance with local food safety codes and regulations is essential to ensure the safety of performers and meet legal requirements.

  1. Equity and Performers’ Rights:
    The performing arts industry is governed by various professional organizations, such as actors’ unions, which work to protect the rights and well-being of performers. Organizations like Actors’ Equity Association in the United States and Equity in the United Kingdom have specific guidelines addressing the use of real food on stage. These guidelines focus on performer safety, proper handling of food, and consideration for performers with dietary restrictions or allergies. Theater companies should consult these guidelines and work in collaboration with performers to ensure a safe and inclusive environment.
  2. Local Health Department Regulations:
    Local health departments play a crucial role in enforcing food safety regulations within their jurisdictions. Theater companies are often required to obtain permits or clearances to handle and serve food on stage. These permits ensure compliance with local health and safety standards. Companies should reach out to their local health department to understand the specific requirements and processes involved in obtaining necessary permits for using real food as props.

Using real food as props in theatrical productions adds a touch of realism, but it also introduces potential safety risks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, food safety codes and regulations, actors’ unions, and local health department regulations all contribute to the framework governing the use of real food on stage. Theater companies must prioritize performer safety, comply with food safety guidelines, and collaborate with performers to create a safe and inclusive environment. By adhering to these codes, standards, and laws, theater productions can deliver an authentic and enjoyable experience while ensuring the well-being of all involved.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (n.d.). Retrieved from

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (n.d.). Retrieved from

Food Code. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Actors’ Equity Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https

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