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Health Department explains role with vendors

Government oversight of vendors is a controversial issue in Fredonia and two members of the county Health Department recently sought to explain that entity’s role.

Jessica Wuerstle and Natalie Whiteman – familiar at Village Hall from their work with Fredonia on its water system – addressed the Board of Trustees about the Health Department’s role in governing vendors.

“I know you folks are discussing your upcoming possibilities for vendor regulations and permits and things,” Wuerstle opened. “I just wanted to make sure you folks are all aware of what we do at the Health Department, so you’re not doing the work that we are already doing.”

She said, “We are totally in charge of food safety. We issue either temporary food vendor permits or mobile food vendor permits.”

Temporary permits are generally for a single event. Mobile permits are issued for a full year and vendors can go anywhere in Chautauqua County during that time.

Pre-operation inspections occur on mobile-permitted vendors’ carts. “We can’t do pre op inspections necessarily on the temporary food vendors because they may be coming from Kansas or something,” Wuesrtle said. “The temporary food folks should be simpler menus… I shouldn’t be seeing anything that requires a whole lot of food prep. Temporary food vendors are basic hot dogs, burgers, things that can be prepared on site and served immediately.”

Mobile-permitted vendors are routinely inspected at least once a year, though not every time they are out. As for temporary vendors, “depending on the history we have with them and the type of food and the type of equipment they have, may be inspected every time they are out,” Wuerstle said.

She concluded, “Things like thermometers, things like appropriate refrigeration, all of that business — we got that.”

The Fredonia Planning Board is currently handling an overhaul of the village’s vendor regulations. Charles LaBarbera, the village’s chief code enforcer, told trustees that the Planning Board has tentatively approved changes.

The Board of Trustees will have to ratify any changes to the vendors’ regulations.

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