By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
While Canfield Fair patrons are wolfing down sausage sandwiches and elephant ears and other traditional fair food, county health inspectors are busy making sure the delicacies are safe to eat.
The public face of the Mahoning County District Board of Health at the fair is its booth in the Medical Building.
But behind the scenes, two shifts of inspectors from the health board’s environmental staff check daily to ensure that the 296 food-service and retail-food stands are following safety standards, said Mary Helen Smith, acting environmental director.
The inspectors check food temperatures, food handling procedures, thawing techniques and storage conditions to prevent food-borne disease outbreaks, Smith said.
When fair patrons are not eating, riding the rides or just visiting, they can stop at the county health department’s booth in a new location across from Forum Health in the Medical Building, near the state Route 46 entrance to the fairgrounds, where staff members are dispensing information and giveaways.
“We have hand sanitizers and towelettes, eco- friendly cloth grocery bags and mood pencils for the kids,” said Diana M. Colaianni, nursing director.
The booth offers information on chronic diseases, immunizations, well-child care, nutrition, smoking cessation and obesity; and literature about environmental health issues such as mosquitoes, rabies, dog and cat bites, proper cooking temperatures, septic systems and private drinking water.
There is also information on emergency issues such as the Medical Reserve Corps, emergency preparedness for home, businesses, and schools; a schedule of clinics for childhood immunizations and foreign travel; and referrals for Help Me Grow, Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps, and Head Start, tuberculosis education and Adult Day Services programs, officials said.
“First and foremost, our obligation at the fair is to make sure food and drink are safe by inspecting every vendor and getting violations corrected. We have a long history of mobilizing to do that, and we have great support from the fair board,” said Matthew Stefanak, county health board commissioner.