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Inspectors visit Jackson County Fair food booths

Are there any food handler inspectors at the Jackson County Fair? I once ordered a Polish sausage, and the man scratched his head and handled money, then started putting our food together with bare hands. I asked him if he doesn't wash his hands first, and he said, "If you want me to." I left with him holding the bun and sausage! Food inspectors are badly needed!

— Richard, via email

Richard, inspectors do regularly visit food stands during the Jackson County Fair, said Jackson County Environmental Public Health Manager Chad Petersen.

"We're out there almost every day at the fair going through the food booths and talking with handlers," he said. "We try to make our presence known."

The county has rules for temporary restaurants, which are defined as temporary establishments preparing and/or serving food to the public at events such as fairs, carnivals, festivals and concerts, according to the county's website.

Temporary restaurants are required by law to get a temporary restaurant license at least one week before the event. At least one person working in a booth must have a valid food-handler card, which people earn by taking an online multiple choice test covering sanitation, proper food temperatures, food handling and other safety issues.

"It's best to have the owner or manager who oversees practices have the food-handler card," Petersen said.

Temporary restaurants must have water, soap and towels so workers can wash their hands. Workers must wash their hands before handling food or utensils, according to regulations.

Petersen said temporary restaurants don't get a score like permanent restaurants, which are regularly graded, with results posted online.

"But if there are issues, we do re-inspections to make sure they get in compliance," he said.

Members of the public with complaints about improper food handling, foodborne illnesses and other problems related to food preparation and service can call the Environmental Public Health Department at 541-774-8206.

The Jackson County Fair runs July 20-24 this year at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point.

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