SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The thrills have begun at the California State Fair, but, if food inspectors meet their goals, none will be due to food borne illness. County health inspectors began conducting opening day rounds at the fair Friday morning.
Some fair goers like Dulcinea Sanchez had to wait on the health department to finish their inspections before getting their favorite treat.
"We love the food!" explained Sanchez. "That's why we're here. We got a nice barbecue turkey leg and chicken kabob."
Even though, she and her family lost some time in getting their foods, Sanchez admitted the inspections were good thing..
"I like it," said Sanchez. "This place here opened up a little bit later than we wanted, because they were having inspections. And I think that's a really good thing that they have inspectors come and check out the food before we actually eat."
Steve LePage, one of the inspectors, explained some of the main things he's looking at to ensure safety while some people wait.
"The first thing we're looking for [is] proper hand washing," said LePage. "Make sure they have hand washing supplies, water, soap, [and] paper towels.
He then opens the freezer to make sure items are fully frozen, and he'll even dip a thermometer into pre-cut strawberries to make sure they're properly refrigerated.
The fair and county health inspectors are even more vigilant than usual this year, in light of the multiple cases of E. coli following the San Diego County Fair last month. There are more hand-washing stations at the fair and signs reminding patrons to wash their hands.
Mark Barcellos, a supervisor with the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, has his team is in charge of the health inspections.
Barcellos said many people use instant hand sanitizer and while that's good, he added, "Nothing beats actually washing your hands with soap and water and then using a towel to dry that off. So, if you have little ones, you know, keep an eye on them. Constantly have them wash their hands as needed [and] definitely before they go eat."
Another tool the department uses is unannounced inspections, and Barcellos said the vendors are usually good sports about this.
"We get a warm welcome," Barcellos explained. "Obviously not everybody, you know, enjoys to see county inspectors coming in, but we haven't had any problems with getting everything corrected. Major violations are corrected on site before we leave."