County Clears Concerns on Cooking

Stating that while they are not diminishing their concern with health standards for food related events in Prowers County, Prowers County Public Health and Environment clarified their position on qualifications required for such events. The news release, issued on Tuesday, March 6, stated in part, “Until further notice, PCPHE will only be involved with Temporary Retail Food Establishments and Special Events on a complaint basis. Notwithstanding this current protocol, PCPHE continues to remind the public that all applicable laws and regulations of the State of Colorado remain in effect. Event organizers and individual venders can view these requirements on the Prowers County website (” Various event organizers in Prowers County have been concerned for the past few weeks that strict enforcement of food health codes for all events could cause food vendors to shun any such events in the county or shut down some that occur annually. Their concerns were brought before the Prowers County Commissioners in several meetings.

Jackie Brown, Prowers County Public Health director said earlier, “This only applies to temporary or special events, such as Lamar Days, Fairs or Holly Days, for example. Regular food licensing efforts will continue as they always have for restaurants, mobile units, caterers, anyone that does not meet the nonprofit guidelines such as churches, benevolent groups or 4-H.”

Brown also explained that these non-profits enjoy their exemption from licensing and regulations so long as they serve no more than 52 times a year. This would include pot- lucks, VFW fundraiser meals, pancake suppers and the like from the Lamar Elks or Eagles. Under the temporary events regulations, their menu and food preparation plan would be reviewed by the food inspector as a way to ensure that improved food handling practices are followed during the event. The events are also exempt from licensing fees. It was recommended as a matter of safety and practice that at least one member of an event attend the sanitary and cooking procedures offered online from the state and obtain a card to that effect.

The Prowers County Commissioners also altered the regulations is due to personnel limitations. There are only about two county health employees who can review the various special events year round, and most of them occur in the spring and summer in Prowers County. Those inspectors are also serving Bent and Kiowa County. For that reason, those businesses, such as restaurants, schools, bars, those places where the general public goes on a daily basis, will receive priority for retail food cooking practice inspections.

 Keith Siemsen, Manager for Environmental Health for Prowers County read the full release for the gathering, consisting of members of the Lamar Chamber of Commerce, Prowers County Fair Board, organizers of the annual Wild West BBQ Contest, Lamar Days Rod Run and other organizations.

Rick Akers, Lamar Leisure Services Director, raised the issue of who would be liable should a lawsuit develop from contaminated or spoiled food served to the public. The summary response from this and previous meetings was that no one is completely exempt from liability, and the best course of action would be to take the online state food health test, or obtain a license and submit a menu of foods to be served to a local health code representative for their suggestions on a course of action. Brown explained that although the City of Lamar carries some insurance coverage, a check with a lawyer is a good idea for any group.

A previous article: Food, Fees, Fairs, Funding, Finance

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessChamber/Local BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEntertainmentEventsFeaturedFestivalGranadaHealthHollyLamarPublic SafetyRecreationThe Journal AlertTourismWiley


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