The Importance of Environmental Health to Public Health

Before National Public Health Week comes to a close, we’d like to highlight how Environmental Health works along with Epidemiology and the Laboratory (as well as other agencies when warranted) to help in the area of disease prevention and control.  Environmental Health is involved with assessments of food service facilities, onsite waste systems, tourist accommodations, swimming pools, nuisance complaints and so much more, in addition to the investigation of reports of diseases connected to these regulated areas. The CDC’s video entitled Why Are Environmental Health Services So Important?  does a great job of illustrating our program’s role in protecting public health. 

Thank you for your support!   

~ Karen Gulley, MPH, Food Program Manager

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ANOTHER BLOG ENTRY ON ICE MACHINES?……YES!

by Casey Saenz, Environmental Health Specialist 3

I was conducting a routine inspection at a bar in my area this week, and I had to do a double take when I glanced inside this facility’s ice machine.  The gallery above will give you a good idea of what I saw!

There are a couple of colors that I have never seen before in an ice machine.  Just to give a quick summary:  “Yikes!”  Those are some scary pictures. 

Please be sure to check the inside and outside of your ice machine on a routine basis.  I check the ice machine during inspections by using the camera on my phone.  I push the reverse symbol to flip the view and put the camera towards the top of the inside (avoiding contact with ice).  Sometimes, I have to scoop out some of the ice to get enough clearance to view the top of the machine’s interior.

If you see that your ice machine needs cleaning, be sure to drain it, take it apart, and clean it as applicable.  It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice machine.  If you can’t find the manufacturer’s instructions, they are most likely free online if you do a Google search using the make and/or model of the machine.  There are also ice machine cleaning companies that will do this for you. 

This was a violation under 4-2B, Food Contact Surfaces and Utensils – Cleaning Frequency.  Per Cobb County Code: Equipment food-contact surfaces and utensils shall be cleaned: In equipment such as ice bins and beverage dispensing nozzles and enclosed components of equipment such as ice makers, cooking oil storage tanks and distribution lines, beverage and syrup dispensing lines or tubes, coffee bean grinders, and water vending equipment:

(I) At a frequency specified by the manufacturer; or

(II) Absent manufacturer specifications, at a frequency necessary to preclude accumulation of soil or mold.

I am glad that I was able to catch this because now it has been brought to the manager’s attention and, hopefully, has prevented illness from occurring.

Another Teachable Moment

By Parish Divinity, Environmental Health Specialist 3

The photo above is a good example of how not to store food contact equipment, utensils, and single service items. As you can see, this arrangement does not allow much room for cleaning the adjacent floors and walls. Additionally, storing items in this manner could provide harborage for a pest infestation (it can even help hide an infestation!).  This was a teachable moment during a change of ownership evaluation where I advised the restaurant owner to store their single use articles at least six inches off of the floor to prevent possible contamination and facilitate cleaning. 

During a food service inspection, this violation would be marked out of compliance on item number 14B – Utensils, equipment and linens: properly stored, dried, handled. If you have some challenged storage areas in your facility, now may be a good time to get them into compliance.

Cobb & Douglas Health Will Be Closed on Tuesday Due to Inclement Weather

Cobb & Douglas Public Health will be closed on Tuesday, January 28.  Please check our website for updates regarding any future delays or closures.

As you prepare for the wintry weather, please take a look at the documents listed below to help you and your family be ready for its arrival.  More guidance for food service establishments may be found on the Food Service page of our website.

WHAT’S THAT TEMPERATURE?

by Parish Divinity, EHS

As the holiday season approaches and new menu items start appearing, emphasis is again placed on the proper cooking of foods.  Time and temperature control for safety foods that require cooking are considered “cooked” only after they have been heated to the minimum cook temperatures designated for the particular food item.  This minimum cook temperature must be reached in order to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli 0157.  Color and texture alone won’t tell you whether your food is done. Instead, use a food thermometer to be verify the food’s internal temperature.   When checking the temperature of food, always check the temperature in at least two locations, and at least one of those temperatures should be measured in the thickest part of the food (if applicable).

Test your knowledge by taking this short Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures Quiz provided by ServSafe.

SUPER BOWL LIII IS ALMOST HERE!

The excitement is building as the 53rd Super Bowl makes its way to the Atlanta Metro area.  We are  assisting the Host Committee of Super Bowl LIII as preparations are being made.  If you are planning special activities during Super Bowl week (January 26 – February 4, 2019), please visit the Atlanta Conventions and Visitors Bureau site for event registration, filling out as much information as you can.  The Host Committee will use this information to coordinate with public safety partners on traffic and crowd management.   

Also, if you want to share a public event, you can post it to the Atlanta Conventions and Visitors Bureau calendar of events on the same form.  Events will only be made public if you select that option when you register the event.  The registration site provides a good way to advertise what you have planned. 

If your plans include changing your business model and/or the addition of equipment, be sure to submit your proposal to the health department as soon as possible.  In addition, the Fire Marshal’s office will need to be contacted for approval if you will be adding cooking equipment or if a change in your authorized occupancy is anticipated. 

For more information, contact Food Program Manager Karen Gulley at 678-385-5066.