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!

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Food Allergen Awareness Month Is Here!

May is Food Allergen Awareness month.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in thirteen children and one in twenty-five adults have food allergies.  This means that  the possibility of a customer in a food service facility having a food allergy is great.  In some cases, just a small amount of an allergen can cause serious harm—and in some cases death–to persons that are allergic.

Georgia’s Rules and Regulations for Food Service require that the person in charge of food service facilities train their staff in regard to allergen awareness based on their respective job duties.  The CDC’s  3 Resources About Food Allergies provides information to assist with your allergen training such as this poster entitled “Food Allergies: What you need to know” .

If additional assistance is needed in this area, please contact your local health authority.

The Importance of Environmental Health to Public Health

Before National Public Health Week comes to a close, we’d like to highlight how Environmental Health works along with Epidemiology and the Laboratory (as well as other agencies when warranted) to help in the area of disease prevention and control.  Environmental Health is involved with assessments of food service facilities, onsite waste systems, tourist accommodations, swimming pools, nuisance complaints and so much more, in addition to the investigation of reports of diseases connected to these regulated areas. The CDC’s video entitled Why Are Environmental Health Services So Important?  does a great job of illustrating our program’s role in protecting public health. 

Thank you for your support!   

~ Karen Gulley, MPH, Food Program Manager

4 STEPS TO FOOD SAFETY WHILE HAVING FUN!

As many will be wrapping up the summer season with Labor Day weekend fun and eats, this is just a reminder to think about food safety while doing so.  Please take a look at this short and to the point video about areas to focus on as we clean, separate, cook, and chill: Every Good Meal Should Start with Food Safety  produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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!

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.