National Food Safety Education Month

September is National Food Safety Education Month.  During this first week, we are pleased to announce the availability of  the 12th episode of our Food Safety Partnership Panel entitled Back to the Basics: Risk Factors 101.  This episode covers the main areas of focus during food service inspections and provides a demonstration of the clean-up response to an incident of vomitus in an establishment, as well as a presentation of the main components of an employee health policy.

All of the Partnership Panel episodes can be viewed on our website at the following link:

http://www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/environmental-health/food-services/food-safety-partnership-panels/

Over the next four weeks, we will emphasize specific areas to assist you with your food safety knowledge.  Be sure to check out our Food Service page for more Partnership Panel episodes along with helpful tools and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

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RESPONSE PLANS TO INCLUDE PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT

We often speak to food service operators about having effective plans in place for responding to events involving vomit and/or diarrhea in their establishments.  We were recently reminded by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Office of the current code requirements in this  area:  

“Chapter 511-6-1 requires operators to have procedures in place for responding to vomiting/diarrheal accidents [511-6-1-.03(6)] in the food service establishment and IF PRESENT playground equipment and associated areas, there needs to be a plan in place for operators to follow when responding to vomiting and diarrheal events there as well [511-6-1-.07(5)(b)3].”  

Please don’t forget that if establishments have playground equipment, there should be an approved plan for responding to such events if they occur there as well.  The disinfectants used for such purposes are to be effective against Norovirus.  Chlorine is a disinfectant that is approved to be used in response to an event, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of others approved for use in response plans.  Click this link for an EPA list of effective disinfectants or go to the EPA’s website for more information.  Also, click here for an example of a response plan provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

 

 

 

 

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!

Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training Scheduled for February 7, 2017

The spread of a infectious diseases in a care facility can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of their residents, as well as their staff. Just last year, there were two large Norovirus outbreaks in Cobb County facilities, so our Environmental Health and Epidemiology divisions have teamed up to present a Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training on February 7th from 1:30-3:30 PM at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.  There is no charge for the training; however, registration is required.  The registration form can be found at this link:

Care Facility Outbreak Prevention Training Registration Form

New Food Safety Partnership Panel on Personal Hygiene and Employee Health

The people factor, as it pertains to food safety, is so important that it is addressed at the beginning of Georgia’s Rules and Regulations Governing Food Service.  This topic is also the focus of our most recent Food Safety Partnership Panel episode.  Watch the video for a review of the components to include in every Employee Health Policy.

This video may also be viewed on Cobb-TV 23 and Douglas-TV 23.  Additionally, all of our Food Safety Partnership Panel videos are posted on our website.

More tools to assist you in this area will be posted in the near future, so stay tuned!