Garfield County consumer program educates food vendors ahead of festival season | PostIndependent.com

Garfield County consumer program educates food vendors ahead of festival season

Garfield County Public Health Environmental Health Specialist Natalie Tsevdos helps to ensure that Garfield County builds a successful food safety consumer protection program.
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As Garfield County gets set for another summer filled with festivals and outdoor events, Garfield County Public Health is prepping any and all vendors and food coordinators on food safety before it’s too late.

With around 40 events that were approved and regulated in 2017, according to public health specialist Carrie Godes, county officials hope to educate as many food vendors ahead of the 2018 event calendar.

“If someone in the public is running a temporary event, let Garfield County Public Health know so we can determine what is needed,” Godes explained.

The stepped-up efforts to educate food vendors about proper licensing and inspections comes after an incident at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle last summer when 80 people became sick after attending a rodeo event. Garfield County Public Health determined the cause was foodborne illness, and the Post Independent learned no food inspections occurred prior to the event.

Garfield County Public Health hosted two temporary information sessions for vendors and food coordinator in Rifle and Carbondale last month.

One more is scheduled in Glenwood Springs on Thursday, April 12, at the Garfield County Administration building. The morning session, from 10-11:30 a.m., is for event coordinators for any fairs, markets, festivals or such taking place this summer. The afternoon session, from 1:30-3 p.m., is geared toward food vendors and the licensing requirements the county has.

Event coordinators and food vendors are taught how to navigate the county’s application for events and vendors and went over county and state licensing requirements.

Godes said that around 10 vendors and coordinators attended the Rifle and Carbondale sessions, and she hopes to she more for Glenwood’s session next week.

Garfield County Public Health took over the consumer protection program in early 2016 and is now responsible for working with retail food establishments and food vendors throughout the county to ensure they are properly licensed.

Before the county program began, area restaurant inspections were directed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which has turned over responsibility for inspections to individual counties over the last few years.

Garfield County Public Health environmental health specialist Natalie Tsevdos, who is hosting the information sessions in Carbondale, Rifle and Glenwood Springs, said the consumer protection program is focusing on education in 2018 as she hopes to continue to build relationships with restaurant operators and food vendors throughout the county.

“We continue to work with the towns to let us know what is going on when,” she said.

Those wishing to attend the information session in Glenwood Springs next week should RVSP with Tsevdos at ntsevdos@Garfield-county.com or call 970-665-6375.