JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On the eve of the annual Mississippi State Fair serious health inspections must be done before vendors open up their doors.
Particularly with food stands, there is always the risk of contamination.
As you can imagine there are so many choices with food and drinks to try which makes the state fair special, but when thousands of people descend on these small stands one slip up of proper hygiene could easily spread bacteria.
From classic treats like deep-fried Oreos, and cotton candy, to fair pizza and subs vendors from around the nation are anxious to serve fairgoers.
“We really get a good joy out of it, in all honesty, it makes my day,” Food Vendor Harry Grosvenor told us. “To come out here and make people happy.”
But before greeting the smiles of the Mississippi State Fair goers every stand selling food must pass a series of health inspections to be permitted to open.
“Were looking for the same things we look at when we do regular food inspections,” Anne Hogue of the Department of Health said. “We’re looking for people being careful about keeping their hands clean, keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. That they’re careful not to cross-contaminate. You don’t want to have chicken blood dripping on the salad.”
The department expects over 120 different vendors with creative menu options you won’t find anywhere else, but if not handled properly people could get sick.
“Both euros and chicken on a stick would be hazardous foods,” Hogue continued. “So you got to keep them nice and warm and nice and cold of they need to be cold and you got to cook them enough.”
Throughout the fairgrounds, we saw how health officials focused on each stand having working sinks, clean counters, soda machines bacteria-free, and food stored at proper temperatures.
“Anytime that we take off a pair of gloves we always re-wash our hands and put more gloves on,” Grosvenor said. “And anytime you come into the stand that’s the first thing you have to do before you touch anything. We wear blue gloves the whole time fixing anybody’s drinks.”
“We will make spot inspections throughout the fair,” Hogue continued. “And we will also if you are eating there and you see something you don’t think is right you need to let us know.”
So far no vendor has been turned away for failing their first inspection, but the department encourages customers to be on the lookout for these permit stickers to show what the stands sanitary grade was.
The number to call to notify the department of health on any trouble you see is 601-576-7689. Its important to note any foodservice going on outside the fair gates with no permit is not allowed.