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Douglas County proposal to move fair food booths for E. coli prevention draws mixed reactions

Last month I posted about John Sowell’s News Review story on Fair safety issues prompting Douglas County Fair officials to rethink booth locations. In a new article, John talks about the attention being drawn to the plan to move fair booths.
The News Review reports that reactions were mixed over the proposal to move the food booths at the 2006 Douglas County Fair away from a pig barn and relocate them next to a grass-covered area near Kidsville.
Some of the food vendors who attended a meeting Wednesday with Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips and Dan Hults, the fairgrounds operations manager, were nervous about leaving their dedicated spots along an alley leading south from near the main gate. Others welcomed the prospect of moving to an area they see as more inviting for customers and that could lead to increased sales.
From the article:

Phillips conceded that the risk for an E. coli outbreak at the fair might be small and he was unable to explain why there have been a rash of fair incidents involving E. coli in recent years when fairs have been held for more than 100 years with few problems. However, he said he didn’t want to take any chances when it would be easy to relocate the food booths to an area south of the Floral Building.

“I don’t want to go to North Carolina and argue with some kid on dialysis about how he got E. coli,” Phillips said. “I don’t know why we can go 10 years and be clean, why we can go 25 years and be clean, why we can go 50 years.”

No changes will be made this year, but fair officials want to move the food booths at the 2006 fair to lower the risks of an E. coli bacteria outbreak. For the past few years, officials from both the fairgrounds and the Douglas County Health Department have been concerned about having the booths next to the Pavilion Arena, where pigs being shown by area youngsters are kept during the fair.
Three years ago, 80 children and adults were infected by an E. coli outbreak at the Lane County Fair in Eugene. The outbreak, the largest in state history, was traced to dust produced by dried animal feces in the small animal barn.
Last October, 108 people were sickened by an E. coli contamination at the North Carolina State Fair. Fourteen of those stricken had their kidneys shut down and four children had to be placed on dialysis. The outbreak was tied to a petting zoo at the fair.

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