Did you forget to clean something???

By Casey Saenz, EHS3

During a recent food service inspection, I was examining the ice machine (which is a routine part of an inspection) and happened to notice a small buildup of black mold on the machine’s interior panel.  From past experience, I know that if there is a small amount of mold where I can easily see it, then there’s a good chance that there will be a much bigger beast lurking further inside the ice machine.  To better assess my concerns, I used the camera on my cell phone to take a picture of the upper interior area where the ice drops.  Lo and behold….

Ice machine

This 4-point violation was marked under item number 4-2B (Food-contact surfaces: cleaned & sanitized) on the food service inspection form.

There have been gastrointestinal illness outbreaks from pathogens, such as Norovirus, that have been traced back to the consumption of contaminated ice.  People sometimes forget that ice is a food, just like the ones that are listed on a restaurant’s menu, that can become contaminated with disease causing microorganisms from a contaminated surface or someone’s unwashed hands.  This photo serves as a great reminder to always clean your food contact surfaces on a regular basis, especially the ones that are not very visible!

 

Upcoming Employee Health Webinar!

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Section and the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) are jointly presenting a webinar about Employee Health on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM.  Membership in the GRA is not required to view and listen during the live presentation nor is there a charge; however, preregistration for the webinar is required. 

Additional information and the registration link can be found here:

http://web.garestaurants.org/events/Webinar-Employee-Health-215/details

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!

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/

 

Just Say No to Norovirus!

Nobody enjoys cleaning up after a vomit or diarrhea related accident, but if it’s not done correctly, you, your co-workers, or your customers could be exposed to norovirus.  It only takes about 10 norovirus particles to produce a case of gastroenteritis, and one sinNoro Cleanup Postergle vomiting incident can release 300,000 or more of these viral particles into the environment. And perhaps worst of all, not all disinfectants are effective at destroying norovirus.  If surfaces that become contaminated with vomit or diarrhea are not disinfected properly, norovirus can survive for several days or even weeks!

In an effort to stop norovirus in its tracks, the State Environmental Health Office has provided several resources that can be used to help assure the effective cleanup of contaminated surfaces during these events.   These resources, including a sample clean-up procedure, a corresponding color poster, and a list of EPA registered disinfectants that are effective against norovirus, can be found in the Food Service FAQs located here:

CDPH Food Service FAQs

Please take some time to review your own cleanup protocol to make sure that it’s strong enough to tackle norovirus!