Now that fall season is here, communities are offering hayrides, pumpkin picking, fall festivals, craft shows, and more. When thinking about these fall activities, many people start to crave iconic fall festival food, such as apple pies, hot spiced cider, and pumpkin flavored everything. I love going to these fall festivals and enjoying the treats, but I wondered about the food safety practices of these types of food establishments, since food vendors often travel throughout the state to these events in trucks or trailers. Here are a few things to consider when you are thinking about buying food from any vendor to ensure you are eating safe food:
- Is the food prepared in front of you? It is good for the food to be prepared in front of the consumer so they can see that safe and sanitary food handling practices are followed.
- Is the workspace where the food is prepared clean and tidy? Messy workspaces can cause cross-contamination between foods cooked throughout the day as workers may be more likely to use a surface or utensil that has not been sanitized.
- Do the employees have a sink to wash their hands? Germs can pass from hands to food. Good hygiene of the employees can prevent any transmission of these germs into food prepared for consumers. If the vendor isn’t in a vehicle, is there a place nearby for the employees to wash their hands?
- Do the employees use gloves or tongs to prepare and serve the food? This practice prevents any contamination to come from the food handlers. Food not handled by the employees protects the consumer from any germs and contamination on the employee’s hands.
- Are different foods prepared in the same area? If they are, there is a possibility of cross-contamination, which can cause foodborne illnesses.
- Is there a refrigerator to keep raw ingredients? Food sitting out for more than two hours can be filled with harmful bacteria. It is essential for food to be kept in the right containers at the right temperature to keep it safe for consumers to eat.
There are a few questions for consumers to consider for vendors who travel around from one festival to another:
- Has the vendor been inspected by the health department? If the vendor has been approved there will be a posted permit where the public can see.
- Is there proof of the recent inspection from the health department attached to the permit? Each vendor is inspected and permitted by the health department to prove that the vendor has fulfilled the minimum requirem
ents to be open for the public to safely consume the food.
If a vendor passes all of these questions then the food should be safe to be enjoyed. Enjoy the food at your community’s fall festivals even more by knowing that the food that your family eats there is safe.
Written by: Rebecca Hills, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, OSU Extension, Medina County
Reviewed & edited by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Medina County, firstname.lastname@example.org