Health inspectors at Taste of Chicago

Two years ago a salmonella outbreak traced to hummus made 700-plus people sick at the Taste of Chicago outdoor food festival in Chicago, IL. The annual festival lasts for 10 days, and millions of people attend. This year 60 health inspectors will be patrolling the venue attempting to prevent another outbreak, reports Chi-Town Daily News.

As city food inspectors, their main focus is the potential disease lurking in the pizza, turkey legs, corn, elephant ears and countless other treats cooked at the Taste’s outdoor booths…This year, the city’s Department of Public Health is deploying about 60 staff members – trained food inspectors and supervisors – to continually drop by the 56 vendor booths, making sure the food stays safe.

Frances Guichard, director of Chicago District Public Health’s food protection division, said,                 

“We are in more of a role of consultation.”

Explaining that,

Inspectors visit each vendor between four and six times a day, taking the temperature of food, ensuring storage and service conditions are sanitary and giving vendors assistance, if they need it. If food temperatures are too low or too high, inspectors will recommend the food be thrown away.

The most common reason for a booth to be shut down is if no manager is present while food is being served to patrons. And, even then, a restaurant can begin serving food as soon as a manager returns.

I’m glad inspectors are at the event — it may help food handlers to be aware of their potential impact on food safety — but as Doug mentioned last year, there are certain components of food safety that can’t be monitored by inspectors, like food from a safe source.