Fair inspectors check for food, ride safety

LADSON, SC (WCSC) - State health officials say state budget cuts are now affecting food inspections at the Coastal Carolina Fair. The Department of Health and Environmental Control says the cutbacks made it impossible for inspectors to meet with every single food vendor before issuing a permit, as it has in the past. Health officials say consumers will still be safe from food borne illnesses.

Since DHEC inspectors couldn't inspect every single vendor, instead they will be subject to random spot-checks by the health department.

"A lot of people come for the food. One great thing at this fair is they have a very good variety of food," Concessions by Cox owner Teri Cox Hickey said.

DHEC says fair vendors were issued temporary permits, and at any given time inspectors can spot check them to make sure food safety and sanitation requirements are being followed. Requirements include: running water, hot water, a hand washing station, a utensil washing station, insect control, and food maintenance at proper temperatures.

Vendors say they are inspected and permitted multiple times a year, and food standards are similar wherever they travel, so meeting cleanliness and food prep requirements is a norm.

"I've passed health inspections anywhere from Calgary, Canada, Indianapolis, Indiana and down to Florida, so I'm certified wherever I go and never have a problem," owner of Hot Wisconsin Cheese Randy Reichert said.

"We've very pleased with what we've got. We're a very popular fair. We have a waiting list for people that would like to bring food. So we're going to be sure they're safe," fair spokesman Joe Bolchoz said.

There are nearly 70 food vendors at the Coastal Carolina Fair. DHEC says that inspectors were sent out to meet with food vendors who have had problems in the past. DHEC says that fair foods are considered low-risk for bacteria or germs because usually no advanced preps are required, and the food is usually kept cool, cooked, and then served immediately.

Triple checks took place by inspectors, looking into each and every ride at the fair.

State inspectors, Amusements of America inspectors, and inspectors hired by the fair make sure all rides are assembled properly and to safety standards. Inspectors look at several things including ride foundation, the electrical system, passenger restraints, and ride operation. There are more than 60 rides at the fair this year.

"Every night the fair and Amusements of America are required by law and industry standards to do a daily inspection. Those daily inspections are turned into us and we review those. Then we randomly go back and double check and go behind the folks and plus do our own daily checks of each and every ride," Jonathan Brooks said. Brooks is president of Wagner Consulting, the fair's safety inspection company.

The Coastal Carolina Fair and Amusements of America will have their ride safety officials on site for all ten days of the fair to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The Coastal Carolina Fair opens Thursday, October 27th at 3 p.m.

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