The News Review reports on fair safety concerns over having food served from booths located next to a pig barn at the Douglas County Fair. Health risks, such as E. coli, have air officials considering moving food vendors to another location.
David Bussen, director of the Environmental Health Services Division of the Douglas County Health Department, says the presence of E. coli bacteria in the feces of farm animals worries county heath officials who fear the bacteria could be transmitted to people and sicken them.
There have been long-standing concerns with dirt from animal stalls blowing over food preparation areas in the booths. That dust and bacteria that could make people sick. Food courts should be moved away from the animal barn.
Yet no changes will be made to the placement of food booths at this summer’s fair. The soonest food vendors could be relocated would be for the 2006 fair, Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips told the paper. The Fair Board would have to approve any change to booth placement.
Last October, 108 people became sick from E. coli contamination during the North Carolina State Fair. The illnesses, in which 14 people suffered from their kidneys shutting down and four children were placed on dialysis, were linked to a petting zoo at the fair.
In 2002, 80 children and adults were infected by an E. coli outbreak at the Lane County Fair in Eugene. The outbreak, the largest in Oregon history, was traced to the fair’s small animal barn.
Since the Lane County incident, local health and fair officials have taken steps to reduce the risk of E. coli contamination. They installed six hand-washing stations outside the animal barns, next to an arena and in the Kidsville area south of the food court.
Signs encouraging people to wash their hands were also posted. In addition, a health education campaign was begun to alert youngsters involved with 4-H and FFA to the dangers and to encourage them to take precautions.