On the afternoon of July 2, individuals who plan to participate as food vendors during RAGBRAI® met at the Public Health building. Most of the individuals in attendance plan to sell food in Knoxville, though some vendors from Pella were in attendance, as well.
Cory Frank from Marion County Public Health introduced attendees to Joe Beal, a food safety specialist from the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals (DIA). Frank says that as an employee from Marion County Public Health, he has worked closely with Beal over the years, and their goal in holding the meeting was to make sure all the vendors are well associated with food safety regulations. Frank says they all want to be sure Knoxville is a memorable stop on RAGBRAI, but for the right reasons.
Beal handed out applications for vendors to mail in before RAGBRAI begins, as well as “blue books” that hold the guidelines for “Temporary Food Service Establishments and Farmers’ Markets,” as put together by the Iowa Food Safety Task Force in 2010. Any vendor planning to sell food the day of RAGBRAI, in a place that is not their typical place of business, is required to get a permit, aside from non-profit organizations. Amongst topics of discussion at the meeting were safety regulations for hand washing, food temperature, and food preparation. A main point that Beal made was that any food sold by vendors must be prepared on site--not prepared at home and transported.
Beal says the main points about food safety that he would rank as most important for vendors to remember are maintaining proper food temperatures--keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, sanitizing of area and utensils, and use of gloves. Something else Beal marked as noteworthy for vendors was that service of leftovers is prohibited. If there is food leftover at a stand at the end of the day, it may not be served the next day.
Inspections in Knoxville for RAGBRAI food vendors are likely to begin around 8:30 a.m. on July 24, and if they do not meet regulations, they will not be allowed to sell any food until they are up to regulation. Beal states that usually, coming up to regulation after a mistake is a pretty easy fix. As soon as the vendor is compliant with regulations again, they may continue selling food.
According to Assistant City Manager Dylan Feik, Knoxville RAGBRAI vendors will need to be set up on July 24 by 10 a.m. The streets in the downtown area will be closed off by 5 p.m. the day before in preparation, so vendors are welcome to set up anytime after 5 p.m. on July 23. Feik also says that no vehicles will be allowed in the blocked-off area except for very few vehicles that will be needed that will have RAGBRAI stickers. There will be designated vendor and volunteer parking available outside of the square for those who need it. Normal downtown businesses may contact the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to obtain parking passes for the day. Feik additionally estimates that Knoxville may have as many as 30,000 more people in Knoxville than usual on July 24.
Police Chief Dan Losada reminds vendors that restocking of supplies downtown during RAGBRAI on July 24 may be difficult--any extra supplies that need to be brought to a stand will need to be walked in, as vehicles will not be allowed to drive up to their stands for any reason.