NEW: Debiting of Cold Holding Temperatures Above 41ºF

The safe cold holding temperature for time and temperature control for safety (TCS) foods is 41ºF.  Please note that a grace will no longer be allowed for temperatures observed above this (for example at 43ºF) when the item is considered to be in cold holding.    A temperature above 41ºF or more when cold-held would constitute a 9-point violation.  Facility operators are asked to ensure that all TCS food temperatures are monitored to help ensure the compliance temperature of 41ºF or below is maintained in order to help inhibit the growth of harmful foodborne illness causing bacteria.  [Note: We will allow for the calibration of thermometers within 1 to 2 ºF.]

Holiday Catering Food Safety Tips!

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, and a party just isn’t a party without plentiful food! With this increased demand for catering, restaurants that don’t traditionally cater may be approached to prepare, transport, and serve food that falls outside of their normal day-to-day operations. If you fall into this category, there are several food safety concerns that must be addressed before committing to such an event.

To make this assessment more convenient, Galen Baxter, the Food Service Program Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health, has created a guide for determining if you’re properly prepared to cater a holiday party or comparable event. Following these guidelines can help you make the correct decision when approached by party organizers for catering services and assure that food safety is a top priority if you decide to take on the job.

Holiday Food Safety Tips!

We join the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in extending  a quick reminder of four important principles that need to be followed to keep food safe during your holiday celebrations. This Holiday Food Safety video is available in both English and Spanish.

In addition, the Georgia Poison Center has summarized those principles in a one-page handout that you can post or just keep handy entitled Holiday Food Safety Tips.

Enjoy your celebrations—while thinking Food Safety!

Need Food Safety Posters? Free Downloads Are Now Available!

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced additions to its resource bank of Food Safety posters and materials that are now available for download.  Proper Date Marking of Time-Temperature Control for Safety Foods and Proper Cooking posters are among the additions. These posters are available in nine different languages to help broaden the availability of important food safety guidance.

Visit the FDA’s Retail Food Industry/Regulatory Assistance & Training site for additional materials and ideas for training.

Now Available: Industry Guidelines for Response to Foodborne Illness

Although no one wants to be involved in a foodborne illness outbreak, it is a very good idea for operators to consider what their role might consist of if one were to be connected to their facility. To simplify this task, The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) have developed Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines  to help owners, operators, and managers of food service establishments take an active and informed role in outbreak response and investigation by identifying areas that need to be improved upon. Additionally, several tools are provided in the guide that can be used during a possible incident or to initiate efforts to help prevent one from happening.

Public Notification of Cobb Food Worker with Hepatitis A

Cobb & Douglas Public Health has issued public notice that a case of hepatitis A (HAV) has been diagnosed in a food handler at Vittles restaurant located in Smyrna, Georgia. An investigation found that this employee worked while infectious Wednesday, October 2, 2019. It is rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at Vittles on the above date should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease.

Most healthcare facilities and pharmacies carry the hepatitis A vaccine, but call ahead to ensure availability.  Hepatitis A vaccination is also available at Cobb & Douglas Public Health clinics Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of insurance status. (Please bring insurance card if available.)

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant on the date that employee worked is also asked to:

  1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to 50 days after being exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

Food service owners and operators are reminded that a person may be infected with the hepatitis A virus several days before showing any signs and symptoms.  In addition to ensuring that good hygienic practices are adhered to and that all workers are aware of employee health reporting requirements, operators are highly encouraged to have their workers vaccinated against hepatitis A.

If you have questions regarding the hepatitis A infection, please call our Epidemiology & Health Assessment team at 770-514-2432.  For answers to questions regarding hepatitis A immunizations, please call 770-514-2349.   

An updated hepatitis A fact sheet prepared by the Georgia Department of Public Health provides a good summary that may be utilized in food service establishments to assist with the education of staff members and to assist in monitoring. A Spanish hepatitis A fact sheet is also available.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Marking Discard Times for TPHC Foods

Time as a public health control (TPHC) is when time and temperature control for safety (TCS) foods are held without temperature control for up to four or six hours (depending on the rule option used) if they meet certain time limits and other guidelines in the regulations.  When using TPHC, if the food is not used within four to six hours, the food must to be discarded.   The use of TPHC has benefited many food service operations; however, since its allowance, confusion has often been found during inspections about how TPHC foods should be marked to identify when they need to be discarded.  Some facilities were noting the time the food was removed from temperature control while others were noting the time the food was to be discarded. 

To comply with the way the specific rule is written, all food service operations using TPHC are now required to mark or otherwise identify the discard time for all items that are under time as a public health control.  [The time the TCS food is removed from temperature control may still be noted; however, the discard time must also be noted.]   In addition, when TCS foods are held under the 6-hour TPHC rule, that food needs to be marked with the time the food was removed from refrigeration and the time that is 6 hours past the point in time when the food was removed from temperature control (i.e. the discard time).

For more information on the requirements for time as a public health control (TPHC), please see the Food Service Rules and Regulations located on our website.