How Safe Is Food At Missoula Events?

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With homecoming events taking place this weekend, there's no question you'll see food trucks with vendors serving food around town, but how safe is it to eat this food?

For Johnny Carino's general manager Josh Bradford, running a restaurant is a full time job alone, but selling food at some of Missoula's biggest events is another job in itself.

"The Missoula Downtown Association got a hold of us with going Out to Lunch and Downtown Tonight, and that's where it all started," said Bradford.

That's where catering manager, Tyler Plouffe steps in, since Johnny Carino's serves food at least four of Missoula's major events through out the year, like Out to Lunch and River City Roots Festival.

"We follow the same procedures outside of restaurant that we do inside of restaurant," Plouffe said.

Serving food at events around town has become a popular way for local businesses to promote themselves and make some extra cash.

"It gets our name out there, and people recognize us that way," Bradford said.

Anyone who sells food this way has to get a temporary food service license, or TFS, through the Missoula City-County Health Department.

"Food safety is a combination of things, hand washing, cooking food at the right temperature, not cross contaminating, there are a lot of factors that could lead to safe food or unsafe food," said environmental specialist Todd Seib.

Seib said the stands we see with tarps, canopies, coolers, anything that is taken apart and put back together before an event, require TFS's, while food trucks are required to get a mobile license. Seib said anyone serving food is expected to follow the basic procedures when it comes to heating food and sanitation.

"It doesn't matter if you're a big chain restaurant, or a little coffee shop, they all have to wash their hands and follow the same food safety regulations," Seib said.

He said the health department tries to inspect all food services at least once a year, he said at Missoula events TFS's are rarely shut down.

The Missoula City-County Health Department inspects more than 800 licensed food establishments each year, not including the more than 200 TFS inspections they do in the summer.


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