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ADH inspectors will be onsite during Arkansas State Fair to ensure food safety

With yet another restaurant involved in the hepatitis A outbreak, food safety is top of mind for many across the state.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - As thousands prepare to eat their way through the Arkansas State Fair, efforts are in place to make sure the culinary creations are safe for consumption.

“The food is part of the fair. You can't have a fair without food,” Arkansas State Fair food & beverage director Jerry Cohen said.

More than 70 food vendors will dish out turkey legs, deep-fried dishes and other fair favorites.

“We want it to be safe. We want it to be clean. We want it to be healthy,” Cohen said.

According to state environmental health director Dr. Richard McMullen, 14 Arkansas Department of Health inspectors have completed a pre-evaluation before the fair began to ensure the mobile eateries and other facilities are sanitary and have the proper equipment.

“We treat vendors that are at fairs that serve food just like any other establishment, like brick and mortar establishments,” McMullen said.

On opening day, inspectors will return for an operational inspection to ensure conditions are sanitary. Several inspectors will also be on site throughout all 11 days of the fair.

“We want to make sure that they have the facilities to keep clean hands, water, a way to collect wastewater and an operation of what to do with it afterward,” McMullen said.

The inspection also includes making sure no employees are ill and that all food is sourced from approved vendors -- steps that McMullen says should leave fair-goers feeling confident in whatever they choose to eat.

“Just eat like you would anywhere else,” he said. “It's perfectly safe.”

The fair will have free admission and free parking Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. so that people can stop in for lunch.

To submit a food establishment complaint, click here.