Get to Know the Georgia Smokefree Air Act

Secondhand smoke is harmful to one’s health; especially to the young, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals.  Most food service establishments do well overall in their compliance with the Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005; however, questions will occasionally come up, such as, “How close to the entrance should customers be allowed to smoke?” and “What if I have a private party room and want to allow smoking?”  The answers to these and other commonly asked questions–along with great reminders–can be found in the Georgia Smokefree Air of 2005 Guide for Business Owners and Employees and at the following website:

http://dph.georgia.gov/smoke-free-enforcement

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!

Be Prepared for Weather Related Food Safety Emergencies!

Whether it’s snow and ice or severe storms and flooding, the safety of the food stored in your home can be compromised as a result of associated power outages and/or exposure to flood water.  To help guide you through the “what to do” process, Cobb & Douglas Public Health has created a webpage containing resources for these situations, and you can find it here:

http://www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/consumers-guide-food-safety-emergencies/

INSPECTOR IMPERSONATION ALERT!

We were recently notified by a nearby health district that a food service operator had received a call from someone claiming that he was from the health department and that the operator’s routine inspection was due.  The caller then stated that in order to receive the inspection, the operator would need to pay a fee via credit card over the phone.  Recognizing that this was not normal protocol, the operator informed the caller that he would need to phone the health department to verify the caller’s request.  The caller then quickly hung up.

Occasionally, we are made aware of such actions occurring via phone and in-person; especially during the holiday season.  Please review proper precautions and protocols with your staff.  For assistance with your food defense plan, please see the following link provided by the FDA:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodDefense/ToolsEducationalMaterials/ucm353774.htm

 

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/

 

Learn How to Stop the “Notorious Virus” During National Food Safety Month!

norovirus_4

The theme of this year’s National Food Safety Month is the “Notorious Virus”, which includes an emphasis on the prevention and control of Norovirus.  Please check out the recent press release from Cobb & Douglas Public Health to learn more about Norovirus and gain access to other food safety resources, such as our Food Safety Partnership Panels.

Always remember to think Food Safety!

A Consumer’s Guide to a Safe Holiday Table

christmas-turkey-1415520163IhqA large crowd to cook for, a big bird to roast, and too many cooks in the kitchen have the potential to add up to a foodborne illness for those dining at the holiday table. But handling and cooking a turkey should not be an illness waiting to happen. The University of Georgia Extension has some basic recommendations that will help keep food safe for you and your guests–not only during the holidays, but year-round.

Click here for holiday food safety tips.