The Lincoln County Health Department Office of Environmental Sanitation is the regulatory authority for all food service within the county. When most people think of food service, they think of restaurants, but this is actually only a small part of the overall food service done in Lincoln County. There are approximately 125 fulltime food service establishments in Lincoln County. In 2011, 260 temporary food service permits were issued. This is more than double the number of fulltime establishments. With over 400 certified food handlers within the county, residents can rest assured when supporting these permitted events. However, there are still temporary events unaware of the permitting process in place by the health department. These situations show a need for continued education in safe food handling practices.
What is a Temporary Food Service Establishment? The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services defines this as any food service event held for a period of not more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. Here in Lincoln County, this consists of any athletic event concessions, fundraisers, fairs, church picnics, dinner auctions, grand opening celebrations, and so many more. It does not matter if the food is being given away or if a fee is charged. If your organization prepares or serves food to the public, the Lincoln County Food Ordinance 10-18-2011 applies to you. All organizations serving food are encouraged to contact the health department annually to incorporate these guidelines in their planning process.
All food service establishments are required to submit a permit application and permit fee at least 30 days prior to the event. The application process simply requires the organizer to submit event details to the health department for review. A late fee will also apply for expedited permits. Organizations operating without a permit will be subject to fines and possible prosecution for not cooperating with these regulations.
Temporary operations often require the food service to be set up outdoors or in locations where keeping foods safe and sanitary is challenging. Therefore, food service operators should have a basic understanding of how improper handling of Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHFs) and poor hygiene can cause a foodborne illness. PHFs are foods (such as meat or dairy products) that must be kept hot or cold because they are capable of supporting the rapid growth of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. By following specific guidelines, temporary food service operators can minimize the possibility of a foodborne illness occurrence.
The Lincoln County Food Ordinance 10-18-2011 requires at least one person be on-site throughout the event with Safe Food Handling Certification. This can be obtained by attending a Food Handler’s Certification Course at the Lincoln County Health Department. The last class of 2012 is scheduled for Wednesday, October 17 at 6 p.m. If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please call Kim at 636-528-6117 ext. 201.