In light of advisories to limit time in public places, many are stocking up on food and supplies. The University of Georgia’s Family and Consumer Sciences Specialist has compiled a good guide to assist consumers in purchasing food for short term emergencies. Preparing an Emergency Food Supply, Short Term Food Storage includes “what and how much” to purchase along with safe storage information.
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.
Recent reports of hurricanes along the East Coast prompts a reminder to check your preparedness status regarding food safety during emergencies. Whether you’re a consumer or a food service operator, please check out the following:
A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms & Hurricanes provided by the US Department of Agriculture
Home Emergency Preparedness from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences of the University of Georgia
Be Prepared Georgia! brochure from the University of Georgia Extension