Food challenges and eating contests in a way are just like cruise ships and airplanes. There are thousands of cruises every year around the world, and their are millions of flights, but when 1 cruise goes bad or when 1 plane crashes, the whole world finds about it and people talk about how dangerous they are. This also applies to food challenges and eating contests too. There is only 1 or 2 deaths per year at most resulting from eating contests, but when they happen every news outlet around the world covers it. The funny thing is that all of the incidents are completely stupid too!! You may have heard about the contestant in Florida that died from choking in a cricket contest (yes they were eating live insects). You may have also heard of the lady that drowned herself by drinking too much water in a contest to see who could drink the most water without peeing (just to win a Wii gaming system). To this day, I have never heard of an incident resulting from a food eating challenge. The only story that has come close is the story about a large man having an actual heart attack while eating at Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada, and that was not even a food challenge. Even though the chances are extremely rare, there still are chances, so you should make sure that you and your business is protected legally in case anything does happen. Here are tips you should definitely consider so you don’t learn the hard way:

Don’t have any dangerous rules – This is the most simple thing to do, which is to not set any dangerous rules. As we discussed in Silly Challenge “House Rules” To Avoid, do not restrict eaters from being able to drink liquids during quantity based food challenges. Doing that will significantly increase the chances of somebody choking. Please use “common sense” and think about all of the extra rules that you are applying to your challenge. If it sounds dangerous, it probably is something that you should avoid enforcing, or bringing up in the first place.

Make sure challengers are 18 years old or with their parent or guardian – Children are not even typically allowed in public swimming pools without their parents, and you should not allow them to participate in your food challenge if they are not with them either. Make sure all contestants are adults in your country or that they are with a legal parent or guardian. This significantly takes any legalities away since laws are much more strict when situations involve children. Especially if you make the contestants sign a waiver beforehand, make sure the signature even means something, since a child’s signature without the parent’s signature below is basically worthless. It would be smart to include your age restrictions with the challenge rules. This should be obvious, but if you have alcoholic beverages involved, you definitely need proper age restrictions so you avoid trouble.

Have challengers sign a waiver beforehand – Many restaurants make challengers sign a waiver before they are allowed to take the challenge, basically excluding the restaurant from any liability from situations that may occur while the person is taking the challenge inside the restaurant. As an eater, I always laugh when signing these because I think they are silly, but it is smart when taking a business’ perspective of the situation. Many restaurants make the waiver funny by adding lines like “I hereby certify that I am an idiot for taking the food challenge and that I exclude (the restaurant’s name) from all liability from any situation that may stem from me taking this challenge.” Feel free to get creative, and the form can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. 95% of challenge waivers also include the challenge “house rules” so that the eating challenger is legally acknowledging that he or she has read and understands the rules before beginning too. Feel free to check out the waivers that other restaurants created and use around you to help you get ideas for making up your own.

The purpose of a food challenge is for everyone to have fun, and the last thing you want is somebody getting injured, hurt, or even killed. Make sure to keep watch over food challengers too to make sure everyone is safe and happy. Chances of choking increase when a person is trying to speed eat food, but even then they are extremely low. If a situation does occur, take care of it right away and make sure everyone is okay. Avoiding a situation and automatically denying responsibility might really anger the family of a person that gets hurt, making them more likely to file a lawsuit. Rather than spending a fortune on lawyers and dealing will a ton of awful PR, you could have avoided all of that by simply going out of your way to make sure the person was okay. That isn’t that difficult right? Make sure to practice “common sense” when hosting food challenges, and everything will go smooth 99.99% of the time. It is smart to make sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted though, and hopefully this article has helped you make sure you correctly protect yourself legally.

To go back and view other Creating A Challenge articles, click here.