Food Safety at the Fair
County Fair time is upon us! Some look forward to the rides, some look forward to the food, others look forward to the cute animals. Whatever draws you in, no doubt you’ll probably participate in at least two of the three activities.
Spending time at the fair can bring on quite an appetite. Maybe there is a food vendor at the fair that you always go to, saving yourself for that treat only during fair-time. For me, I love fried Oreo’s and cheese curds!
Sometimes, though, people don’t “trust” fair food for many reasons. While there may be good reason to avoid some options, the best way to avoid getting a food-borne illness is to be vigilant and follow a few simple suggestions.
- Hand washing with soap and water is a must before and after eating. Also wash your hands after you use the restroom, touch an animal, and ride rides or play games. Hand washing stations are set up around the fair, so take advantage of them. You can also take that extra step by using hand sanitizer afterwards.
- The barn has hand sanitizing stations, which are great for immediate and temporary hand washing. They may kill the bacteria on your hands, but they don’t do a good job of removing dirt, oil, and other things that could be on your hands. So make sure to follow up by washing your hands with soap and water.
- When choosing a food vendor, make sure to notice how clean the inside is, and how clean the workers are. Are they wearing gloves when they are preparing your food? Glove use is required if they directly touch your food. How are they disposing of their garbage (if you get a chance to notice)? If they have condiment dispensers, are they protected from bugs?
- If you purchase a dish with meat, make sure it’s cooked all the way through. Food vendors may get busy, especially on weekends when customers are non-stop, and not notice when something is undercooked. Additionally, don’t accept cooked food that is cold. Make sure it’s freshly prepared and hot if it’s supposed to come that way.
- If you are enjoying the fair for several hours and bring your own perishable snacks and beverages, like milk, fruit, and veggies, make sure to pack the items in an insulated lunch bag with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep everything cold. You can also freeze water bottles and use those as ice packs.
For many communities, going to the fair is an annual tradition. Stocking up on your favorite fair food can be an annual tradition as well! The food served at the fair is safe; vendors have the proper licenses and training to serve customers, and many have never had safety issues. However, it is still important as a consumer to take the right steps to ensure that you don’t get sick. Be healthy and have fun at the fair!