Food vendors told to abide by the rules


Clint Seibel reviews the items that the state will be looking for this fall when these food vendors peddle their wares at the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair.

More than 25 representatives met March 16 at the Hillsboro city building to review state guidelines for all food vendors planning to participate in the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair in September.

?The reason we?re here today is we want our team (of food vendors working) together to do all the same things,? said Clint Seibel, representing the Hills?boro Kiwanis Club. ?We want safe food.?

The state has established codes for temporary establishments that prepare, package, serve or vend food for human consumption, a category under which the fair food vendors fall.

Arlene Schale, Arts & Crafts president, scheduled the meeting after she and Seibel met with a state representative to discuss practical implications of the state food code for the local event.

Attendance at the March 16 meeting was mandatory for all vendors serving food at this year?s fair.

According to Seibel, the Kansas Department of Agri?culture recently assumed oversight of state food code compliance. Previously, he said, enforcement and inspections were handled by the Kansas Department of Health and Education.

?All towns in Kansas have been put on notice,? he said about code compliance.

Although no changes have been made in the state?s code, vendors can anticipate more rigid scrutiny by the state.

?The regulations are far above what we?ve done (in the past),? Seibel said about requirements for preparing and selling food at the fair.

Those requirements include:

n Protecting food from dirt, dust and debris. Vendors will need some kind of roof or tent overhead and the floor cannot be grass or dirt, he said, adding that concrete and asphalt would be acceptable.

n Maintaining and monitoring temperatures of prepared food. Vendors probably will need to have a thermometer on site to monitor food temperatures??especially the meat,? Seibel said.

n Using separate grills for different raw items cooked.

n Providing separate tables for selling and paying for food to consumers.

n Protecting food surfaces from contamination by consumers

n Making no bare-hand contact with ready-prepared food.

Those who are working at the booths should use plastic gloves if they handle food.

Also, vendors must provide a convenient hand-washing facility on site that provides hot/warm water and is equipped with soap and paper towels, Seibel said.

He encouraged vendors at the meeting to sign up to purchase a portable hand-washing station?at a cost of $25?that would meet code. The association plans to order them in bulk from an online company at some cost saving to vendors.

?I think it?s going to be impressive to an inspector if we all have (hand-washing dispensers),? Seibel said about the Arts & Crafts Association?s efforts to comply with the codes.

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