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!

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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.

 

RESPONSE PLANS TO INCLUDE PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT

We often speak to food service operators about having effective plans in place for responding to events involving vomit and/or diarrhea in their establishments.  We were recently reminded by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Office of the current code requirements in this  area:  

“Chapter 511-6-1 requires operators to have procedures in place for responding to vomiting/diarrheal accidents [511-6-1-.03(6)] in the food service establishment and IF PRESENT playground equipment and associated areas, there needs to be a plan in place for operators to follow when responding to vomiting and diarrheal events there as well [511-6-1-.07(5)(b)3].”  

Please don’t forget that if establishments have playground equipment, there should be an approved plan for responding to such events if they occur there as well.  The disinfectants used for such purposes are to be effective against Norovirus.  Chlorine is a disinfectant that is approved to be used in response to an event, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of others approved for use in response plans.  Click this link for an EPA list of effective disinfectants or go to the EPA’s website for more information.  Also, click here for an example of a response plan provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

 

 

 

 

Resources for Handling Sick Employees

Regardless of the time of year, food service workers may become ill and try to come to work with a sore throat, fever, jaundice, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.  The employee may think he can manage his symptoms and make it through the business day, but his continued presence in your establishment could spread the illness to your customers and co-workers, and ultimately result in a foodborne illness outbreak.

Beginning on page 34, the Rules and Regulations for Food Service address employee health and establishes the criteria to help you determine if a food service worker exhibiting any of these symptoms needs to be restricted from his duties or excluded from work altogether. And if an employee is excluded, details are provided for determining when he can be cleared to come back to work.

To help guide you through assessing and addressing employee health in your facility, the Georgia Department of Public Health provides many useful tools at the following link:

http://dph.georgia.gov/food-service-rules-and-documents

Scroll down to the Employee Health Information section to find quick decision guides, medical clearance forms, an employee health and hygiene handbook, a list of approved disinfectants, and more!

Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training Scheduled for February 7, 2017

The spread of a infectious diseases in a care facility can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of their residents, as well as their staff. Just last year, there were two large Norovirus outbreaks in Cobb County facilities, so our Environmental Health and Epidemiology divisions have teamed up to present a Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training on February 7th from 1:30-3:30 PM at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.  There is no charge for the training; however, registration is required.  The registration form can be found at this link:

Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training Registration Form

Dirty Hands Can Be Scary!!!

Sometimes the scariest monsters are the ones you can’t see! Disease causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, may be lurking on your hands or the hands of others, but all you need is twenty seconds worth soap, water, and friction to stop these microscopic monsters in their tracks!

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the City of St. Louis Health Department have created a seasonal campaign to remind people that “Dirty Hands Can Be Scary“.  Please take some time to check out the campaign’s website to learn how a little more frequent (and thorough) hand washing can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthier and happier.

Direct website link:

http://dirtyhandscanbescary.com/