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!

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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.

 

Update Regarding E. coli O157:H7 Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Georgia is among 19 states, at this time, that have confirmed cases of persons that have become ill with E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona.  The following is advice from the CDC to food service operators and retailers:

  • Do not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.
  • Food service operators and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.

Visit Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers on the CDC’s website for more detailed guidance concerning the outbreak.

INFOGRAPHIC ON CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO FOODBORNE ILLNESS

It is now Week 2 of National Food Safety Education Month.  The CDC has made an informative infographic available for download that provides areas to focus on to help minimize foodborne illness.  Other Food Safety resources are available as well at the following link:

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/publications/cf-infographic.html