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.

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RECALL ALERT: FDA Issues Its First Mandatory Food Product Recall to Protect Consumers

After several food products manufactured by Triangle Pharmanaturals, LLC were found to contain Salmonella, the FDA issued a mandatory recall for food products containing powdered kratom that were manufactured, processed, packed, or held by this company.

Manufacturers usually issue voluntary recalls on products once notified of such a problem, however, in this case the firm was slow to respond.  Please see the FDA press release for information regarding possible contaminated products and important actions that should be taken.

Where’s the CFSM?

By Casey Saenz, Environmental Health Specialist 3

Recently, I performed an inspection at a facility that is not located in my normally assigned area, and while looking around the kitchen, one of the first questions I asked the Person In Charge (PIC) was “how often is the Certified Food Safety Manager here?”  [The PIC was not listed as the Certified Food Safety Manager (CFSM) on the certificate posted on the wall.]

The answer was “not very often”.

This question was prompted by the large number of violations that I spotted within the first few minutes of the inspection.  One such violation was an obvious cross contamination violation (see below).  That, along with a swollen bottle of expired salad dressing which was ready for service, made me think that the CFSM is definitely not doing what he is supposed to to be doing–which is ensuring food safety and proper staff training!

canton wings pic

With the most recent updates to Georgia’s Rules and Regulations for Food Service, the CFSM is considered to be ‘key’ to maintaining food safety.  The CFSM not only has the responsibility to ensure that the food is safe for consumption, but he/she also has to make sure that ALL of the facility’s employees are well trained, especially for the times when the CFSM is absent.

This particular restaurant inspection ended with a grade of 70/C, and it may have been low enough to gain the attention of a local newspaper.

Don’t let your restaurant get to the point of no return.  Keep your staff trained and current on food safety practices to help protect your customers from foodborne illness esand limit the possibility of a foodborne illness outbreak.

Please take a minute to read over the How can I prepare my establishment for inspection? document located on our website for duties expected of the CFSM.

 

One Little Container Can Lead to a Big Problem

By Casey Saenz, Environmental Health Specialist 3

On a recent routine inspection, I entered a restaurant at a time when I was able to observe the employees prepping food for the lunch rush.  The employees were busy at their stations: some were chopping vegetables, others were preparing raw meats, some were washing dishes, and so on.  I noticed that one employee at the prep station took out a container of raw seed sprouts and left it on the counter.  In the world of food safety, sprouts are considered a “red flag”.  In other words, that is one of many foods that if kept in the temperature danger zone [between 41 and 135°F], can lead to a very scary– and costly–problem.  After about 10 more minutes, I observed that little container of sprouts still out on the counter and I asked that employee why they were not being kept cold.  That employee said that they were kept out of the cooler during rushes and then put back once things slowed down. [Their lunch rush is about 3 hours.]  I quickly informed the employee that sprouts must be kept at 41°F and below and that included the lunch and dinner rush times as well.  The sprouts were quickly put back in the cooler.  After I finished the inspection and began to type the results on my laptop, I went back into the kitchen to retrieve my notepad.  When I went back to that same area, SURPRISE!  That little container of sprouts was back out on the counter.  Their temperature was reported at 57°F!  At that point, this was no longer a matter of simply educating an employee, this had now become a 9-point temperature violation and the sprouts were thrown away.

This little container of sprouts demonstrated a couple of key problems in this kitchen, one of which was obviously the temperature violation.  Another problem is a lack of managerial control and training by the PIC (person-in-charge).

A person-in-charge, whether they know it or not, has quite a big responsibility when it comes to protecting the public and a big one is training and oversight. That little container of sprouts, could have easily made many people sick– even hospitalized.

For more information on outbreaks caused by seed sprouts, click on the following link:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/sprouts.html

Holiday Foods and Treats Fun!

As we celebrate the holidays, let’s test our seek-and-find skills with a hunt for some traditional holiday foods and treats.  This word search puzzle submitted by our MPH intern, Danielle Pierre, may be printed out or completed on your computer using the highlighter function of your PDF reader.  Either way, enjoy—and we hope you have some delicious treats during your safe and happy holidays!

Direct link to puzzle:

https://ehfoodblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/winter-holiday-foods-and-treats-dp.pdf

New Food Safety Partnership Panel: Safe Food Sources!

This time of year, quite a few restaurant menus begin to include special desserts, meats, drinks, etc. that are not usually offered in their facility.  Those foods need to be from an approved source–just as during other times of the year.  To help clarify this topic, we are announcing the 13th episode of our Food Safety Partnership Panel video entitled  Safe Food Sources , which emphasizes the need to be on alert for any unauthorized meat surfacing, such as that from illegal back woods slaughter 

Each of our Partnership Panels (covering a variety of topics) is available on the Environmental Health Food Service page of our website at www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org and run approximately 30 minutes in length.  These can be used for review and training as applicable. 

Enjoy a Happy and Safe Holiday Season–and always think Food Safety!

Our Last CFSM Class for 2017 is Coming in December!

Every food service establishment is required to have at least one certified food safety manager (CFSM) unless they are exempted by the Rules and Regulations for Food Service.  The last ServSafe Food Safety Management course taught by Cobb & Douglas Public Health in 2017 will be held on December 12-13 at the Marietta Health Center, Building B, 1738 County Services Pkwy, Marietta.  Registration closes on November 15, so please share this information with those in need of this training.  The registration form must be completed and returned with payment to assure a seat in this class.  Visa or MasterCard payments may be taken via phone by calling our main Environmental Health line at 770-435-7815.