IT’S FOOD SAFETY EDUCATION MONTH: New Partnership Panel and Employee Health Campaign Launch!

Check out Episode #14 of our Food Safety Partnership Panel where we discuss The Risk Factor Challenge.  You will also be introduced to our Employee Health Achievers Campaign and receive the results of our recent Risk Factor Study.   Operators that successfully participate in the campaign will receive certificates of achievement and their establishment names will be posted on our website (click here to learn more).

Each of our Food Safety Partnership Panels (covering a variety of topics) is available on the Environmental Health Food Service section of our website and is about 30 minutes in length.  These can be used for review and training as applicable.  They are also shown regularly on Cobb TV and DCTV23.

   

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4 STEPS TO FOOD SAFETY WHILE HAVING FUN!

As many will be wrapping up the summer season with Labor Day weekend fun and eats, this is just a reminder to think about food safety while doing so.  Please take a look at this short and to the point video about areas to focus on as we clean, separate, cook, and chill: Every Good Meal Should Start with Food Safety  produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certified Food Safety Manager Class Coming to Douglas in August

There will be a ServSafe Class presented at our Douglas County Environmental Health office on August 28-29th.  Our office is in the Douglas Courthouse on Hospital Drive in Douglasville.  Registration will close on August 8th .  The registration form and links to other CFSM providers are found on our website.

As a reminder, every food service establishment is required to have a certified food safety manager (CFSM) with current certification that is actively engaged in overseeing the application of food handling and operations in their respective facility, unless otherwise exempt by the Georgia Food Service Rules and Regulations Chapter 511-6-1.  Please check your certification to ensure that the time has not lapsed.  Also, please share this information with others as applicable.

 

Cobb-Douglas Risk Factor Study Results

From March 2017 to April 2018, the Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH) Center for Environmental Health conducted a Risk Factor Study of its food service facilities to help measure the success of the CDPH Food Program in reducing the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors.  For this study, about 290 food service establishments were randomly selected in the health district for assessment regarding the factors determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contribute to the majority of foodborne illnesses:  food from unsafe sources, inadequate cooking, improper holding/time and temperature, contaminated equipment/cross contamination, poor personal hygiene.   In addition to a need to improve upon Employee Health Policy compliance being identified, the following were observed to have the highest percentage of non-compliance during the course of the study:  proper cold holding, cleaned & sanitized equipment, and personal hygienic practices.

Over the next few weeks, information regarding intervention strategies that will be implemented by CDPH to help improve compliance regarding these risk factors and public health interventions will be introduced.  The strategies are considered to be practical ways to enhance food safety.  There will be an opportunity for individual and facility recognition as well.  Stay tuned!

Taking Ice for Granted

Reminders from Karen Gulley, Food Program Manager

In food service establishments, ice may be used for such purposes as keeping food cold, making drinks cool and refreshing, and as an ingredient—among other things.  Microorganisms may be found in ice, ice-storage chests, and ice-producing machines.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these microorganisms get into the ice mainly as a result of transfer from a person’s hands or due to the potable (drinking) water source used.  Examples of microorganisms that cause human infection from ice include Legionella from potable water, Norovirus and Cryptosporidium from water containing fecal contamination, and Salmonella transferred from a person’s hands.

Thus, importance should be placed on keeping ice protected from contamination in the food service establishments by ensuring good handling practices which includes effective handwashing, using and properly storing a clean, impervious scoop with a handle, and not allowing bare hand contact with ice used for consumption.  Another big area of emphasis should be the cleaning and maintenance of ice machines.

During food service inspections, ice machines and ice storage units and dispensers are often marked as being out of compliance.  As shown in these “before and after” pictures provided courtesy of WeCleanIce.com, the cleaning of the inside of ice machines is warranted but often overlooked when scheduling times for the thorough cleaning of equipment.  Manufacturers of ice machines usually provide instructions for their cleaning, however, if instructions are not available, check out the guidance provided by the CDC on page 80 of their Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.  Other helpful information regarding the importance of keeping ice safe is provided in the document as well.

 

NEW MENU LABELING REQUIREMENTS

In order to help consumers make more informed decisions, the FDA has enacted a menu labeling rule that will apply to food service facilities that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations conducting  business under the same name and offering menus with the same items.  Calories must be displayed in the area of standard menu items and, upon request, specific nutritional information must be provided.  Other food service establishments could benefit from incorporating the labeling guidance into their standard operating procedures as well.

For more information, check out the following tools:

Update Regarding E. coli O157:H7 Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Georgia is among 19 states, at this time, that have confirmed cases of persons that have become ill with E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona.  The following is advice from the CDC to food service operators and retailers:

  • Do not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.
  • Food service operators and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.

Visit Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers on the CDC’s website for more detailed guidance concerning the outbreak.