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!

 

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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!

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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

Violations from the Field

How many food safety violations can you identify in this small kitchen work area?

 

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  • Access to the handwashing sink is being blocked by a cart.
  • The box on the cart contains a large amount of meat that is being held at room temperature.
  • A tub of meat is being stored on top of a trash can.
  • An absorbent wiping cloth is placed under the cutting board.
  • A container of spices is being stored on a visibly soiled cutting board.

 

What food safety violations do you see in this photo?

 

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  • The only handwashing sink that’s available in this kitchen is blocked by bus tubs and being used as a storage area for bucket lids.

 

– shared by Jen Birdsong

Improper Materials for Food Contact Equipment (a reminder from Jen Birdsong, EHS3)

image001This particular facility had been using this arrangement to rest greasy “food contact surface” equipment and utensils.  The cardboard certainly does absorb grease, but this material can also become a source of cross contamination when its absorbent surface touches a food contact surface. Additionally, reused corrugated cardboard may serve as a harborage location for insects, such as roaches.

Remember, direct food contact and food equipment contact surfaces should be smooth, easily cleanable, and non-absorbent.

Violations of this type would be marked at Item 15A- Food and nonfood-contact surfaces cleanable, properly designed, constructed, and used.

What Is Lurking in the Ice Machine?

Below are a few pictures of “in-use” ice machines that were taken recently by inspectors in the field.  It’s important to remember that ice, just like any other food, can become a vehicle of contamination; therefore, it must be protected.  Place ice machines, as well as ice storage bins, on a routine cleaning schedule.  When ice machines can’t be cleaned properly due to disrepair, they should either be restored or replaced.What's in the ice