Caution urged for fairs and festivals

The summer fair and festival season is upon us and state officials are urging residents to practice good hygiene when visiting livestock exhibits.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, some illnesses, such as influenza and E. coli, are commonly carried by livestock and be transmitted to humans and animals in the same way they are transmitted between people.

Health officials advise fair goers to always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching an animal and never drink or put anything in your mouth in animal areas. Older adults, pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems should avoid animal areas.

The Centers for Disease Control are also warning against food borne illnesses that are more prevalent during the summer months.

Many foodborne  illnesses are caused by consuming foods or beverages contaminated with germs. According to the CDC, 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.

The CDC has the following recommendations to consider before consuming foods cooked at fairs and festivals:

  • 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.

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