World Water Day 2018

Today is World Water Day.  The United Nations has declared this year’s theme to be Nature for Water – exploring how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.  For a fact sheet with more information, click here  or go to

The source of our water–and its protection—is important to Food Safety.  We have to be mindful of possible runoff onto vegetable gardens from uphill sources of contamination, such as farm animals grazing and industrial activity.  Those in food service must ensure backflow is prevented at water faucets and hose connections; must maintain dishwashing water clean and sanitizing solution (including wipe cloth solution) at the correct concentration to help guard against contamination; must use foodgrade hoses on mobile food trucks and at temporary food events;    In other words, keeping our water safe is important near and far. 

No Runs Here: Keeping It Safe on Game Day

After Thanksgiving, the day that Americans eat the most food is Super Bowl Sunday.  Please remember to keep your food safe before, during, and after the fun to reduce the possibility of foodborne illness.  CDC emphasizes adhering to the following rules:

  1. Keep it clean
  2. Cook it well
  3. Keep it safe
  4. Watch the time
  5. Avoid mix-ups
  6. Store and reheat leftovers the right way

Find out more here.

Random Violations from the Field – Food Contact Surfaces and Holding Temperatures

The following are violations cited by inspectors in the field based on the Rules and Regulations for Food Service CHAPTER 290-5-14


EHFood DishwasherFood Contact Surfaces Cleaned and Sanitized

Contributed by: Kim Brown, EHS3


Food Service Inspection Item Number 4-2b

Code Provisions: .05(7)(a)1

Observation: Numerous plates, bowls, and utensils stored as clean observed with stuck-on food debris.

Compliance/Corrective Action (CA) Required: All food contact surfaces must be properly cleaned to sight and touch prior to being stored for use.

Corrected on sight during the inspection (COS):  Items were removed for cleaning.



Proper Cold Holding TemperaturesEHFood Crawfish

Contributed by: Casey Saenz


Food Service Inspection Item Number  6-1A

 Code Provisions: .04(6)(f)

Observation:  Time/Temperature Controlled for Safety (TCS) foods held above 41 ̊F in that crawfish was 48 ̊F, fish heads 52 ̊F, raw shrimp 48 ̊F while stored in the cook-line refrigerator.

Compliance/Corrective Action (CA) Required:  Always cold hold TCS foods at 41 ̊f and below.

Corrected on sight during the inspection (COS):  Food items were discarded since believed to have been out of temperature more than 4 hours .


Stories from the Field – Teachable Moments

Contributed by Jen Mesta, Environmental Health Specialist 3

Improper Cooling

On a recent inspection in a full-service restaurant, I did a quick walk-through of the kitchen to see what activities were going on. I notice the racks of meat cooling and the nine or so sealed bags of hot cooked greens out on a prep table. Deciding to begin the formal inspection, I kept the greens in the corner of my eye for a few moments. Although there was active monitoring of the cooling of the meat, there was…no activity, no movement to get vegetables cooling rapidly. After talking with management about the greens the thought was because they are vegetables, they don’t pose a foodborne illness risk.   TEACHABLE MOMENT, I live for this stuff…

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Straight from the Field: Teachable Moments

Contributed By Jen Mesta, Environmental Health Specialist

Restaurant fire clip art

Fire Rages and Sparks Complaint
Happily out on a Saturday night with my boyfriend at Trader Joe’s, I received an unexpected call from one of our supervisors: We had received a complaint through Poison Control about a local restaurant that was currently open for business and smelled like it had been on fire. The supervisor made an effort to contact other inspectors with no success. I hung my head, grimaced at the thought of ending our lovely night, and dutifully offered to go check it out.
In retrospect, I am grateful to have seen a nighttime food service in full swing and in the heat of production at a charred cooking station. The first manager I spoke to was aware of the facility’s recent fire but had no details to give me. Luckily, another manager arrived at the door, and he had all the details!
We started to walk down the cooking line to survey the damage at the cook station, but I was forced to stop at a major violation unfolding right before my very eyes! A central hand sink was overflowing onto the floor because it was being used to thaw shrimp (ugh), and contaminated water from the overflow was dripping into an open container of raw nuts. (UGH!) “Sorry, new guy”, says the manager as he quickly corrects the problems. (You can’t make these stories up!)
Further down the line, we assessed the fire damage that occurred when a night cleaning crew member haphazardly pulled out a fryer. He heard a hissing sound from a gas leak and instinctively shoved the fryer back against the wall. Suddenly, there was a “POOF” from the igniting gas and flames that shot down the line. The flash fire damaged water lines, gas lines, and major equipment. The ANSUL system above the cook line shot out fire suppression chemicals, and the sprinkler system sprayed water that ruined light ballasts and ceiling tiles.
Long story short”ish”… the food stored on the line was discarded, all damaged materials were replaced, and a major “front to back” cleaning of the facility took place. Linen was bagged up for laundry service while dishes, utensils, and cookware were cleaned using the dish machine and three-compartment sink. The fire department inspected all of the systems and cleared the restaurant for operation. Great! I couldn’t have done a better job myself!
The one thing the management failed to do was contact the health department for a “post-fire” inspection that would have determined what needed to be corrected before the facility resumed operation—This is very important. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed by their ability to turn around a really awful situation so quickly and after my visit, I’m glad to say we’re all on the same page.