Food festivals in Pima County (AZ) may soon have to have handwashing facilities
Posted: November 8th, 2011 - 9:43am
If I ran a food festival I'd be afraid of an outbreak leading bad press - like what was seen at Folklorama in Winnipeg (that's in Canada, and they have a new hockey team) or Taste of Chicago. The fallout: lots of illnesses and questions to organizers and regulators on how it happened. A festival with a good food safety culture provides risk-reduction tools to vendors and patrons alike - and promotes it everywhere. Talking about it demonstrates shared values.
The Pima County AZ is investigating a law requiring making handwashing stations at festivals required (one station for every five portapotties).
According to the Arizona Daily Star
The Board of Supervisors could make both requirements a matter of law as soon as Tuesday, following a public hearing.
The county Health Department is recommending one hand-washing station for every five portable toilets at a festival.
Festival organizers say they already provide some hand-washing stations, but complained the new rules could be expensive and complicated to enforce.
"It's already a crapshoot to figure out how many porta potties to have," said Mia Hansen, executive director of Tucson Meet Yourself.
The Pima County Fair would be affected by the new rules, and it's unclear how the quotas would apply to an event like El Tour de Tucson, said Hansen, who is also a board member of the Festival and Events Association of Tucson and Southern Arizona.
The Great Tucson Beer Festival typically rents more than 30 portable toilets and six portable hand-washing stations. But those stations are mostly for vendors, so the festival would probably need to rent a few more next year, at a cost of more than $300, said Mitzi Tharin, Tucson station manager for Sun Sounds, the beneficiary of the fundraising festival.
The proposed ordinance would require food trucks to offer hand sanitizer or hand-sanitizing towelettes to customers.
Kenn Goldman, owner of the Dragoon Cafe food truck and an organizer for the Tucson Food Truck Roundup, said he doesn't know whether the county needs an ordinance for that.
Most of the time he provides a pump bottle of hand sanitizer for his customers' convenience anyway, he said.
There are pros and cons on hand sanitizer products, Goldman said. It's nice to have if your hands are dirty and there's no soap around, he said, but frequent use of the products may make people more susceptible to germs (a bigger problem is that sanitizer isn't all that effective against norovirus -ben).