The Centers for Disease Control want us to practice food safety at fairs and festivals this 4th of July and throughout the summer.
One of the CDC publications asks us to remember that the usual safety controls that a kitchen provides, like thermostat-controlled cooking, refrigeration, and washing facilities, may not be available when cooking and dining at these events. Here are some things they suggest you do or find out to prevent foodborne illness:
Before you buy food from a vendor check out the following:
- Does the vendor have a clean/tidy workstation?
- Does the vendor have a sink for employees to wash their hands?
- Do the employees wear gloves or use tongs when handling food?
- Does the vendor have refrigeration on site for raw ingredients or pre-cooked foods?
- Has the vendor been inspected? Requirements vary by state, but in general, temporary and mobile vendors, like those at fairs and carnivals, should have a license to sell food and beverages in a particular state or county. You can check with the local health department to see if the vendors are licensed and if a food inspection has been completed.
Are there healthy food alternatives to consider at fairs and festivals?
When purchasing food from a vendor, look for foods that are healthy for you. If they are not available, consider bringing your own food to save money and calories. Don’t forget to keep safe food storage practices in mind.
If bringing food from home, what are the proper food handling and storage practices?
If you bring food to a fair or festival from home, be sure to keep food handling and storage times in mind. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. On a hot day (90°F or higher), reduce this time to one hour. Be sure to put perishable items in a cooler or insulated bag
Remember to Wash Hands Often:
- Find out where hand washing stations are located.
- Always wash your hands right after petting animals, touching the animal enclosure, and exiting animal areas even if you did not touch an animal.
- Always wash hands after using the restroom, after playing a game or going on a ride, before eating and drinking, before preparing food or drinks, after changing diapers, and after removing soiled clothes or shoes.
- Bring hand sanitizers or disposable wipes in case there aren’t any places to wash your hands.
Anytime you suspect you may have contracted a foodborne illness, report it to your local health department, even if it is after you have recovered. The local public health department is an important part of the food safety system. Often, calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your cooperation is important. In public health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as it is to ill people. Your cooperation may be needed even if you are not ill.