Three food vendors were shut down Friday at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula, MT, after health department inspectors found that “hundreds of pounds of food” the concessionaires were planning to serve had not been properly refrigerated for several days. Other violations involved improper storage of food, unsanitized dishes, and employees not washing their hands. Although three people reportedly felt ill after eating food served by the vendors, to date there are no confirmed cases of foodborne illnesses linked to the fair, said Amanda Poston, an infectious disease nurse with the Missoula City-County Health Department. “I’m the one who gets the reports, and we have not had any confirmed cases,” she told Food Safety News. The three vendors — Route 66, Delightful Goodies and The Candy Stand — which are all affiliated with North Star Amusements of Cody, WY, will have to prove they can provide safe food or they won’t be allowed into the fair next year, a department official said. “In order for those vendors to come back to Missoula next year, they are going to need to contact us and let us know how they are going to be able to do it safely next year,” said Environmental Health Specialist Alisha Johnson. Johnson noted that in the six years she had worked for the department, she had never seen a food vendor be shut down at the fair. “Really, the responsibility rests on the operator themselves to know what the regulations are, and the put proper food safety protocols in place, and that simply wasn’t happening here,” she said. Department inspectors had talked to the vendors earlier in the week about the observed food code violations and what needed to be done to remain open, but their advice was not being followed. “They just couldn’t quite meet those requirements, and we realized that it was irresponsible to continue to let them operate,” Johnson said. On Monday, a local newspaper slammed the carnival contractor and the fair organizers for the situation, editorializing that, “These folks were clearly, repeatedly, in violation of health regulations that could have sickened their customers.”