SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Public Heath Department is keeping a close eye on the food vendors who serve thousands of meals every year during Old Spanish Days.
Months before Fiesta begins, health officials make sure each vendor applies for a temporary food facility permit.
Vendors must list what they are preparing, how they are going to regulate food temperature and storage. They also must verify how they are going to wash hands and dishes.
In most cases, selling food prepared in a home kitchen to the public, is not permitted. Exceptions are explained here.
Most of the food is prepared and cooked in the vendor booths. Food that is not, has to be made in a restaurant with a health permit, then transported and stored safely before it is served.
Once the mercados open for business, health inspectors pay a visit to the vendors.
Kendra Wise is the Supervising Environmental Health Specialist for Environmental Health Services in the department. She said every booth gets inspected at least once during the event.
"When they pass their first inspection, they actually get a physical health permit that we sign and they have to post. That's how people know that the booth has been inspected and we believe the food in it is prepared in a safe and healthful manner," she said.
According to Wise, approximately 45 vendors have applied for and received permits for Old Spanish Days official events, which include the mercados at De La Guerra Plaza, Del Norte, and the food booth at Fiesta Pequena.
Other events not sanctioned by the Old Spanish Days organization, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the Rodeo, have approximately 20 vendors with permits.