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.

One-Day ServSafe Course Available in Cobb!

Cobb & Douglas Public Health will offer a special, one-day ServSafe  Food Safety Managers class on Wednesday, November 6th.  This will be a good opportunity for persons that need to recertify, first-timers who already have a strong food safety foundation, and those that need to retake the ServSafe exam.

The class will be held in the 2nd floor meeting room located on the Marietta Health Center Campus at Building B (1738 County Services Pkwy, Marietta, GA 30008).  The deadline for registration is October 9, 2019. Please share this information with those you believe may be interested. See the registration form or our website for more information.

Straight from the Field: Overflowing Dumpsters!

By Parish Divinity, EHS3

While performing a change of ownership inspection at one of my facilities, I saw what was captured in the image posted above. Garbage should not be left on the ground outside of the dumpster. Not only is it an eyesore but it can attract the attention of insects and rodents.  This violation was documented on the inspection report under 17-B, Garbage/refuse properly disposed; facilities maintained.  Per the Georgia Department of Public Health Rules and Regulations for Food Service, 511-6-1.06(5) (p) and (r):

Maintaining Refuse Areas and Enclosures. A storage area and enclosure for refuse, recyclables, or returnables shall be maintained free of unnecessary items and clean.

Frequency. Refuse, recyclables, and returnables shall be removed from the premises at a frequency that will minimize the development of objectionable odors and other conditions that attract or harbor insects and rodents. 

Be mindful to monitor the refuse storage area frequently to make sure that the garbage inside the dumpster is being removed.  This will prevent the buildup of food debris and trash that can attract unwanted insects and rodents. Other tips to help keep the area sanitary include posting a “CLOSE DOOR AFTER USE” sign on the dumpster as a reminder for user,  keeping the dumpster’s drain plug securely in place to prevent the entry of rodents, and arranging to have the dumpster rinsed, as needed, by its service company.

Don’t Forget To Date Mark Your Frozen Prepared TCS Foods!

For quite some time, we have emphasized the importance of date marking ready-to-eat TCS* foods that are being held more than 24-hours after preparation in order to minimize the possibility for the growth of Listeria–a pathogenic bacteria that is capable of growing at refrigerated temperatures.   [The maximum hold time for these date marked foods can be no longer than 7 days from the preparation date of the oldest prepared TCS food used as an ingredient.]  This same requirement also applies to the opening of commercially prepared TCS foods, which can’t be consumed beyond their expiration date or a 7 day hold time—whichever comes first.  One often overlooked scenario is the proper date marking of prepared foods that are frozen for later use.  Freezing food may stop the growth of Listeria, but that’s not enough to kill it!

Freezing prepared TCS foods will stop the 7 day clock: however, the initial preparation and holding of the food has to be taken into account.  The table shown above gives an example of how such date marking should be implemented.  In this case, chicken was cooked and cooled, the morning of Day One and is date marked with the Date Prepared/Opened (October 1).   After being refrigerated for 2 days, it was then placed in the freezer the morning of Day Three and marked with that date as the Date Frozen (October 3).  The day that the prepared TCS food was removed from the freezer to thaw  is noted as the Pull Date (October 10) and the clock starts ticking again.

The time the prepared TCS food was held before freezing at 41°F or less (in this case two days, October 1 and 2) is subtracted from the 7 day total, which allows us to determine the Discard Date.  In this example, the Day Seven discard date marked is October 14.  Thus, the chicken must be consumed or discarded by the end of the day on October 14.

Click here for a date marking label template that can be used for tracking TCS food that is frozen after preparation. 

*Time and temperature control for safety