The Watertown Daily Times is reporting this morning that Canton is canceling its 18th annual chili cook-off because it couldn’t comply with state health department regulations. Organizer Paul Mitchell told the paper:
I told her all the chili was made off-site and brought in to the VFW, and I was told they had a problem with that,” said Mr. Mitchell, who is editor of the St. Lawrence Plaindealer. “In the early years of the cook-off we never worried about interference from the state Health Department. I know DOH is doing their job, but I think this is going a little too far.
Add the chili cook-off to TAUNY’s pea-soup-and-johnnycake event and a chamber of commerce chicken BBQ to the list of events in canton alone that had to be canceled because they couldn’t comply with state health department regulations.
In this story I did about the issue in 2009, the department of health said it’s willing to work with local groups to help them abide by regulations. But those regs sometimes make the event almost impossible or impractical to hold.
We have a greater understanding about food contamination than ever before, and one poorly cooked dish can make a lot of people very sick.
But community events like these are the bread and butter – pun intended! – of small communities.
What do you think? When you walk into a local chili cook-off, should you be able to accept responsibility that the food is cooked by amateurs in their own homes and accept the consequences? Or is the department of health doing a vital public service by protecting people from potentially contaminated food?