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.

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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.

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.

 

Did you forget to clean something???

By Casey Saenz, EHS3

During a recent food service inspection, I was examining the ice machine (which is a routine part of an inspection) and happened to notice a small buildup of black mold on the machine’s interior panel.  From past experience, I know that if there is a small amount of mold where I can easily see it, then there’s a good chance that there will be a much bigger beast lurking further inside the ice machine.  To better assess my concerns, I used the camera on my cell phone to take a picture of the upper interior area where the ice drops.  Lo and behold….

Ice machine

This 4-point violation was marked under item number 4-2B (Food-contact surfaces: cleaned & sanitized) on the food service inspection form.

There have been gastrointestinal illness outbreaks from pathogens, such as Norovirus, that have been traced back to the consumption of contaminated ice.  People sometimes forget that ice is a food, just like the ones that are listed on a restaurant’s menu, that can become contaminated with disease causing microorganisms from a contaminated surface or someone’s unwashed hands.  This photo serves as a great reminder to always clean your food contact surfaces on a regular basis, especially the ones that are not very visible!

 

Swept Away

Broom

A co-worker and I recently inspected a fast food facility, and we noticed that they had a problem with roaches in the kitchen (my co-worker quickly spotted one crawling along an electrical cord).  As we began to inspect other areas of the kitchen, we saw buckets full of grease and food debris along the coved base of the floor, but one thing that really stood out in this roach-saga was their broom and dustpan.  This dastardly “cleaning” duo could easily serve as a well stocked food court for many pests.

We immediately reminded the person in charge (PIC) about the importance of keeping non-food contact surfaces clean, especially as a means to help prevent a pest infestation.  This illustrates the importance of routinely cleaning non-food contact surfaces, and it shows how quickly things can get out of control when this task is overlooked.

Along with writing up a violation under Item# 18 for Pest and Animal Control, this violation was also marked under Item# 15C, for uncleanliness of non–food contact surfaces.  As the Rules and Regulations for Food Service states, these non-food contact surfaces must be cleaned at a sufficient frequency to prevent the accumulation of soil and debris.

– Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS

Dry Storage Gone Bad!

image001

Toward the end of this facility’s last routine inspection, I realized that I had not yet seen their dry storage area. I asked the person-in-charge (PIC) to show me where it was located. When the PIC unlocked the closet, I was a little surprised (and also grateful) that nothing toppled onto my head.

This is a good example of how not to store food, equipment, utensils, and paper goods. As you can see from the picture, this arrangement does not allow much room for cleaning the floors and walls. This could also lead to a huge problem with roaches or rodents because there are plenty of places for them to hide and any evidence of their presence would be difficult to see. I quickly informed the PIC that this room was a public health concern and explained why it was critical that all of these items needed to be stored at least 6 inches above the floor.

This violation was marked under 14B: “Utensils, equipment and linens: properly stored, dried, handled” on their food service inspection.

Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS3

Would you like some extra protein with your meal?

flies

Sometimes the easy solution to a pest control problem may not be the best solution, especially when food is involved .  This fly encrusted tape, observed in a kitchen during my routine inspection, is serving as a potential contaminant of food and equipment that may only get worse as it attracts more insects.  Even though the insect’s legs are stuck to the tape, the laws of gravity may take their toll on the rest of the fly’s decaying body. Needless to say, I quickly instructed the Person- In-Charge (PIC) to remove the fly tape and call a licensed pest control operator for assistance.

This serves as a really good reminder—especially since the weather is warming up— to keep all of your exterior doors and windows closed unless they are properly protected by screens and to implement an effective pest control strategy with the assistance of a licensed pest control operator.

Related content from the Rules and Regulations for Food Service:

The presence of insects, rodents, and other pests shall be controlled to minimize their presence and to remove dead or trapped birds, insects, rodents, and other pests to prevent their accumulation, decomposition, or the attraction of pests.

– Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS3