Food Safety at Fairs and Festivals
Artwork, music, games and rides! At fairs and festivals, there are always fun things to see and experience, along with plenty of fun things to eat and drink. The risk of foodborne illness increases, however, as people cook and eat outside more often. Usual safety controls that a kitchen provides—such as refrigeration, monitoring of food temperatures, and a staff of workers trained in food safety and cleanliness—may not be available when cooking and dining at fairs and festivals. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of foodborne illness.
Check the Vendor's Workstation
Check to see if the vendor's workstation is clean and tidy, and whether the vendor has refrigeration on site for raw ingredients and pre-cooked foods. You can also ask if the vendor has been expected and whether a recent inspection report is available—or you can check with the local health department to see whether the vendors are licensed to sell food and beverages and if a food inspection as been completed.
Check the Vendor's Employees
Observe the employees, and check whether they wear gloves or use tongs when handling food. Additionally, check to see if there's a sink available for employees to wash their hands, and if the employees are actually washing their hands.
Wash Your Hands
Find out where hand-washing stations are located, and wash your hands with soap and clean, running water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands after petting animals or touching the animal enclosure when exiting—even if you didn't touch an animal. Additionally, wash your hands after playing a game, going on a ride, using the restroom, changing diapers, and removing soiled clothes or shoes. It's important to wash your hands before eating and drinking.
Anytime you think you may have gotten a foodborne illness, report it to your local health department—even if you've already recovered. Local public health departments are important parts of the food safety system, and calls from concerned citizens are often how outbreaks are first detected.
Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Photo courtesy of Visit AC.