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Keep it cool: How Taste of Saskatchewan meets food-safety standards

cbc.ca, by Bridget Yard, July 13, 2017 

Vendors store ice cream at -30C, improvise with hotel pans and ice to meet Health Canada regulations

For 22 years, Taste of Saskatchewan has been serving up meals to hungry Saskatoon customers in the midsummer heat — without any health-code violations.

"Food safety is all about temperature control," said Scott Ford, the founder and show manager of the festival.

"A lot of the restaurants cook here on-site. Other restaurants will actually prepare food at their restaurants and they ship it here and serve it

Hot food is easy to manage, but to keep fish or meat cold in scorching temperatures takes a little more ingenuity.

"We have four generators on-site and all of our restaurants that have colder products, they have freezers, and our electricity and power runs continually the whole six days of the festival."

At The Radisson's Aroma Resto Bar stall, chef Robert Sysing makes do with what he has available.

"For the hot foods, we have the heat lamp," he said

"For the cold foods, to keep it cold in the open, we have the hotel pans with ice underneath and we put the products on top to keep it cold."

Health inspectors go incognito

According to Scott Ford, health inspectors pop in periodically, out of uniform.

"Saskatoon Public Health comes to the festival multiple times a week to check the temperature controls are met, and we've always met those guidelines," said Ford.

With the health of visitors in mind, Taste of Saskatchewan organizers have placed tents around the site for shade and medical teams are on-site. 

In case of a storm, Ford says the organization has protocol in place.

"The big one for us is if we have a thunderstorm with lightning," he said.

In case of a lightning storm, all entertainment is shut down and the park is cleared.

If the weather concern is heat, visitors are encouraged to purchase bottled water or drink from the park's fountains.

Or they can try a cool treat, like ice cream — which also presents a food-temperature challenge for certain vendors.

"Ice cream is super hard to keep really cold but we like to keep them in -30 C," said Megan Remi, working at the Homestead Ice Cream tent.

"Whenever we can, we try to keep our lids closed and scoop real quick."

The Taste of Saskatchewan festival continues in Kiwanis Park until July 16.