Test Your Employee Health Knowledge!

By Kiah Munroe, MES, EHS3

Do you believe that you have a good understanding of employee health requirements?  Test your knowledge by completing our Employee Health Crossword Puzzle and comparing your responses to the Answer Key.

If you would like to clear the contents and try again, just press the reset button provided.

Coronavirus Webinar Update

Thanks to our readers, we were notified that the link we provided for the National Restaurant Association’s Preparing for Coronavirus: Steps for Foodservice and Restaurant Readiness was a single use link. Fortunately, this webinar is still available for on-demand viewing once registration is completed at the following link: https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=reg20.jsp&referrer=&eventid=2216823&sessionid=1&key=50D3E4DFAC40026D6518A91355C476F9&regTag=&sourcepage=register

The National Restaurant Association is also curating coronavirus virus related information targeted to those in the food service industry that can be found here: https://restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Business-Operations/preparedness/Covid19

Public Notification of Cobb Food Worker with Hepatitis A

Cobb & Douglas Public Health has issued public notice that a case of hepatitis A (HAV) has been diagnosed in a food handler at Vittles restaurant located in Smyrna, Georgia. An investigation found that this employee worked while infectious Wednesday, October 2, 2019. It is rare for restaurant patrons to become infected with hepatitis A virus due to an infected food handler, but anyone who consumed food or drink at Vittles on the above date should contact their healthcare provider to determine if a hepatitis A immunization is needed to prevent the disease.

Most healthcare facilities and pharmacies carry the hepatitis A vaccine, but call ahead to ensure availability.  Hepatitis A vaccination is also available at Cobb & Douglas Public Health clinics Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of insurance status. (Please bring insurance card if available.)

Anyone who consumed food and/or drink at the restaurant on the date that employee worked is also asked to:

  1. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  2. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  3. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will prevent the spread of this disease.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and light-colored stools. Yellowing of the skin or eyes may also appear. People can become ill up to 50 days after being exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis A is acquired when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.

Food service owners and operators are reminded that a person may be infected with the hepatitis A virus several days before showing any signs and symptoms.  In addition to ensuring that good hygienic practices are adhered to and that all workers are aware of employee health reporting requirements, operators are highly encouraged to have their workers vaccinated against hepatitis A.

If you have questions regarding the hepatitis A infection, please call our Epidemiology & Health Assessment team at 770-514-2432.  For answers to questions regarding hepatitis A immunizations, please call 770-514-2349.   

An updated hepatitis A fact sheet prepared by the Georgia Department of Public Health provides a good summary that may be utilized in food service establishments to assist with the education of staff members and to assist in monitoring. A Spanish hepatitis A fact sheet is also available.

For more information on hepatitis A, go to www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Protect Yourself from Hepatitis A!

The Georgia Department of Public Health continues to encourage food service workers to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.  Hepatitis A (HAV) is very contagious and about 70% of the cases that have been identified in Georgia over the past year were hospitalized.  This alert is especially important to those in our health district since more than half of the identified cases were in north and northwest Georgia.

The best way to protect yourself– and others–is to get vaccinated and practice good personal hygiene.  Cobb & Douglas Public Health is committed to assisting with the vaccination effort.  The HAV vaccine is available at our clinics.  If the food worker has insurance, the insurance company will be billed for the administration of the vaccine, unless paid for otherwise.  An administration fee of $21.90 is requested from the uninsured patient receiving the state-supplied vaccine, however, no one will be refused care due to inability to pay.

If you have questions regarding the HAV disease, please call our Epidemiology & Health Assessment team at 770-514-2432.  For answers to questions regarding hepatitis A immunizations, please call 770-514-2349.    Please review the Hepatitis A fact sheet for more information.

Alert Regarding Hepatitis A

There has been a recent increase in the number of Hepatitis A (HAV) cases reported in the state of Georgia.  HAV is a highly contagious disease that affects the liver, and a person may have HAV several days before showing  any signs and symptoms.  Food service operators are asked to please ensure good hygienic practices are adhered to and that all workers are aware of employee health reporting requirements.   

The Hepatitis A fact sheet prepared by the Georgia Department of Public Health provides a good summary that may be utilized in food service establishments to assist with the education of staff members and to assist in monitoring.

Employee Health Awareness Is on the Rise in Cobb and Douglas!

About 200 food service managers and operators have taken and passed our Employee Health and Hygiene quiz since it began in September.  Please take some time to check out the growing list of foodservice establishments in Cobb and Douglas that have been designated as Employee Health Achievers on our website.  While there, you can also learn how your facility can be added to the list!

S-A-L-U-T-E to our newest achievers!

Employee Health Achiever Recognitions

More than 100 individuals have scored 100% on the Employee Health and Hygiene quiz since the beginning of September when the Employee Health Achievers campaign began.  Take a look at our growing list of facilities that have achieved recognition as Employee Health Achievers.  Congratulations goes out to each of them! 

If you’re interested in finding out the requirements for this special recognition and how to access the quiz, please visit Become an Employee Health Achiever on our website.

FACILITIES RECOGNIZED FOR EMPLOYEE HEALTH ACHIEVEMENT

The first of the facilities being recognized as Employee Health Achievers  have been posted on our website —having met the requirements during the first month of our campaign (September 2018).   The list will be updated once a month, and we already have quite a few more to add for the month of October.  For more information regarding the criteria for recognition during this campaign, check out our Food Service page.

Congratulations to the first of our Achievers!

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.