Jeff Passan source:

Florida prep concessions now facing health inspections … even out of season

Prep Rally

Every year the Butterball Turkey company operated a 1-800 turkey hotline to avoid the transmission of salmonella or other causes of food-borne illness. If only there was a similar effort aimed at avoiding illness from high school concession stands.

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A Florida high school concession stand which passed a health inspection — USA Today via Fort Myers News-Press

A Florida high school concession stand which passed a health inspection — USA Today via Fort Myers News-Press

As reported by USA Today, concession stands at high school sporting events in the state of Florida have become the subject of rigorous health inspections from county health departments as a way to bring them into code with traditional standards held at all other food purveyors.

That's a change from past years, where the operators of county concessions stands would submit permit applications and receive approval in fairly orderly fashion. In 2012, those permits had to be submitted by school principals and the county began inspections with the onset of the football season.

At this point, none of the schools in Collier or Lee Counties have failed an inspection, though all have had violations. According to Lee County Health Inspector Ken Danielson, that comes with the evolving territory of the high school concessions business, with regulation slowly creeping in on a county-by-county and state-by-state basis.

"Concession stands have evolved from handing out candy bars and sodas to full-service food operations," Danielson told USA Today. "Now they're grilling, they're frying. Since they do have potentially hazardous foods there -- foods that require refrigeration or require hot holding -- Tallahassee decided these stands do need permitting."

For now, they'll hope that the stands will continue to pass, even though the inspections could continue at odd times in the offseason. In the end, most seem to agree that the inspections will be beneficial for all, much like the now-legendary turkey hotline.

"I go to games at other schools, I eat their concessions," said Holly Marth, president of Fort Myers High's athletic booster club. "I think the health department getting more involved is beneficial to all of us."

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