Food Safety Videos Available!

Over the past few years, Cobb & Douglas Public Health has hosted several Food Safety Partnership Panels composed of four participants representing the food service industry, public health, and consumers.  Each video is about 30 minutes in length, highlights an area needing emphasis at the time of the recording, is good for training, and is available at www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com.

This time of year, we like to emphasize the importance of having a safe food source.  Partnership Panel #13– entitled Safe Food Source–reminds the viewer of questions operators should ask of their food suppliers– along with red flags to keep in mind–when deciding whether a food source is acceptable for a food service establishment to use or is safe to use as a consumer.  The panel also takes a look at the illegal slaughter of animals for meat–which is a more frequent occurrence as we get closer to the holidays, and much more.  Check out this video along with the various other topics available on our website.

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Food Safety Education Month Is Here!

A message from Food Program Manager Karen Gulley

Greetings during Food Safety Education Month!

During the month of September, we will be sharing information regarding new regulatory requirements and expectations in Georgia, along with reminders of basic food safety principles. A new resource entitled Food Safety Ninja will help with compliance in these areas. We give shout-outs to the Lake County General Health District (Ohio) for helping to make current food safety principles understandable in a fun and informative way.

Available in English, Spanish and Chinese, this project– which was funded by an FDA grant–uses short videos, narratives and quizzes, to explore proper date-marking (even when you’re freezing ready-to-eat foods), hand washing, chemicals, employee illness, cold and hot holding, reheating, and cooling. The site houses a wealth of information for anyone interested in food safety, especially food safety operators seeking tools for staff training.

Remember to always think food safety–and Happy Food Safety Education Month!

Plan Ahead with a Food Service Emergency Operations Plan!

We recently had a Boil Water Advisory that affected a significant number of homes and businesses over a large portion of Cobb County.  Once it was announced, several food service establishment owners and operators began inquiring as to how long it would take the Center for Environmental Health to review their proposed emergency water supply plan so they could keep stay open for business.   Unfortunately, by the time we were contacted, it was already too late for a review.

The Rules and Regulations for Food Service allow for a food service establishment to operate for up to two hours after a water service interruption; however, to continue operating beyond that limit, the food service establishment must have a pre-approved emergency water supply plan in place prior to the water interruption event.  As you can probably guess, planning for a water service interruption during the actual interruption will not help you stay open beyond that initial two hours, but careful planning now can help position you to effectively deal with your next emergency event.

If you would like to develop your own Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), a great place to start is the Emergency Action Plan guide  produced by the Conference for Food Protection.  This excellent resource can be used to develop a plan to cover water service interruptions, sewage backups, fires, floods, and power outages.  Once you’ve developed your own plan, submit it to your local Environmental Health office for review and approval.

Cobb & Douglas Public Health encourages food service owners and operators to start developing  their EOPs today.  In the event of an actual emergency, an approved EOP can not only help you operate safely, but can reduce down time and save a facility money in the long run.

CDC Tips for Safe Outdoor Cooking!

Outdoor grilling season is upon us, and it’s important to remember that the shift of food preparation outdoors comes with its own unique challenges.  The CDC’s Get Ready to Grill Safely poster serves as an effective food safety reminder for outdoor cooks as they prepare for their outdoor food festivities.  You don’t want to give E.coli, Salmonella, and their other pathogenic friends an opportunity to spoil the party!

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.

Cobb & Douglas Health Will Be Closed on Tuesday Due to Inclement Weather

Cobb & Douglas Public Health will be closed on Tuesday, January 28.  Please check our website for updates regarding any future delays or closures.

As you prepare for the wintry weather, please take a look at the documents listed below to help you and your family be ready for its arrival.  More guidance for food service establishments may be found on the Food Service page of our website.

SAFE COOKING TEMPERATURES

A recent increase in reports of undercooked meat and poultry received by our Environmental Health Office prompts this reminder about the importance of cooking these foods to their correct minimum food temperatures.  Food borne illnesses that can result from undercooking these foods (such as Salmonella and E. coli O157) can be very serious—even life threatening.  Not only is proper temperature monitoring important, but you must take into consideration any change in the portion size of the food that is being cooked.  Additionally, kitchen equipment that is being used to cook food and monitor temperatures should be properly maintained and calibrated to assure that they are working properly.

For instance, if the size of the hamburger patty received from the supplier has increased, the cooking time and heat settings on equipment will normally need to be adjusted in order to meet the minimum cooking temperatures required for food safety.  Food service operators and consumers can check out the FoodSafety.gov guide to Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures to review the minimum safe cook temperatures for a variety of foods that can support the growth of bacteria if mishandled.