Oregon Health Authority warns 'pop-up' food vendors during eclipse may not be licensed

Oregon health officials encourage customers to ask to see a food vendor's license. (KATU Photo)

The Oregon Health Authority is issuing a warning about the possibility of unlicensed food vendors popping up during the eclipse.

"You need a license to sell food, you need to be inspected, and what that does, it basically ensures that employees are washing their hands, that surfaces are clean, that hot food is kept hot, cold foods are kept cold," said Jonathan Modie, communications officer for the Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority.

The OHA has heard from multiple counties in Oregon concerned about impromptu entrepreneurs setting up shop in the path of the eclipse to take advantage of the huge crowds that are expected around the state. The problem is that anyone who's not licensed and inspected by the state could introduce foodborne illnesses to customers.

"No one wants to go through illnesses associated with E. coli exposure or salmonella or campylobacter or even norovirus, you’re miserable. That’s why inspection and licensing is so important," Modie said.

Despite the warnings, plenty of people aren't too concerned about the idea of buying food from an unlicensed vendor.

"You get that all the time, even at festivals, at raves, you get people with tents, they open up their stores, you don’t even know if they’re licensed or not, " said Portland's Eujin Kok, while waiting for his meal at the Portland State University food cart pod.

"You just think, I’m here to have a good time, I want some food, there’s food, let’s go get it," Kok said.

Health officials advise people to give potential food vendors a good visual inspection before ordering, and don't feel shy about asking to see a license.

"You’re perfectly within your right to ask to see a facility's license, and if you don’t see a license or they don’t produce one or they can’t find one or they just flat out don’t have one, the best thing might be to just avoid that facility all together," Modie said.

County health departments are scrambling to process license requests around the state before an expected influx of visitors.

"We just want to minimize that and ensure that if someone does get sick, it’s not getting other people sick and that we don’t have a full-on outbreak happening," Modie said.

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