North Carolina State Fair

State Fair food subject to health inspectors' review

Posted October 10, 2012 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2012 7:00 p.m. EDT

— It's not long until we get our fix at the State Fair.

Hundreds of thousands of people will pack the State Fairgrounds over the next week and a half, many looking for one thing: food.

From sausages to barbecue to deep-fried cupcakes, you can find pretty much anything to eat at the fair.

We tagged along with Wake County health inspector Thomas Jumalon as he inspected some of the vendors.

The inspectors make sure every one of the 150 food stands and trucks are clean and safe for tens of thousands of customers.

His first inspection, a State Fair favorite: Hunnicutt's.

"My grandfather started it 77 years ago, a little hot dog place," said owner Ronnie Buchanan.

It's the only time of year the family runs a restaurant. For that reason, Buchanan says he appreciates the inspections.

While looking to permit the building, Jumalon found "a little buildup on the back side of the handles" of a warming drawer.

Jumalon had that cleaned. He also had staff rewash the kitchen knives after finding some crumbs where the blade meets the handle.

"See, that's an area there that you would miss," Jumalon showed us. "It's always on the knives."

For a temporary food establishment, Jumalon said "right now, everything I see is good."

The temporary set-ups need a permit to operate. They don't get a restaurant grade card.

When the State Fair opens to the public Thursday, health inspectors will be back out to make sure the food is being served correctly.

"At that point we start looking at hand-washing, we start looking at temperatures, holding, cold hold, hot hold, final cook," Jumalon rattled off.

Because whether you're grabbing a hotdog or a cup of coleslaw, Jumalon says temperatures are number one in making sure what you eat does not make you sick.

His advice: "If you're going to get something that's hot, make sure it's hot. If you're getting something that's cold, make sure it's cold. If the two don't match what you've ordered, send it back."