Health inspectors, also known as registered sanitarians, from RiverStone Health are the boots on the ground at MetraPark during MontanaFair, helping you stay healthy. You can spot them on the fairgrounds wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a RiverStone Health badge.

Long before the first fair food has been sold, health inspectors have taught food safety courses to every food vendor to help ensure safe food handling practices, including proper handwashing, temperature control, and how to avoid contamination.

In addition to teaching food safety courses, they are also inspecting food booths each day during the fair, checking that food is being prepared and served safely.

You can do your part to protect your health by following a few common sense do’s and don’ts while enjoying the fair.

• Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Look for handwashing stations located throughout the fairgrounds and use them. Use them after touching animals, after handling money, after handling garbage and before handling food. Every restroom has handwashing sinks.

• Eat your food soon after you buy it. Eating your food immediately allows less time for harmful bacteria to grow. If you wait to eat your food, especially in hot weather, you increase the risk of illness. Most importantly, do not save leftovers in an unrefrigerated bag or a hot car.

• Do not eat or drink around the animals. Animals harbor many germs, some of which are harmful to people. After petting or touching animals, wash your hands carefully to avoid spreading germs to other people or food.

• Throw garbage in designated bins. Trash attracts rodents and insects, which can spread germs. Keeping trash in covered bins helps eliminate these pests and keeps the fairgrounds clean for everyone.

• Contact RiverStone Health with any questions of concerns. Health inspectors can answer and respond to food safety concerns and provide tips to help you stay healthy while enjoying the fair. They can be reached by calling 256-2770.

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Marilyn Tapia, Director of Environmental Health Services and Health Protection at RiverStone Health, can be reached at 256.2770 or Marilyn.tap@riverstonehealth.org