Temporary Food Service Event Update

By Kiah Munroe, EHS3

This time last year, Cobb County Temporary Event season was in full swing!  Unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this is not the case.  The spread of this virus has led to the suspension of events statewide due to social distancing requirements.  As plans for events are beginning again, this is the perfect time to outline and discuss changes in procedures and processes for temporary events in Cobb County.  It is hoped that the time taken by potential vendors and organizers will help to ensure that they have all necessary items to run a booth or station safely and efficiently.  This post will discuss changes in the application process, outline requirements for setup, as well as provide some helpful tips to all interested in temporary food events.

Application Process

Organizers are required to submit an Organizers Application 30 days prior to the event.  Applications must be completed entirely and can be found here.  Organizers must also submit a list of vendors that will be participating in the event.  It is the responsibility of the organizer to ensure that only vendors permitted by the department will be allowed to participate in the event.  Any vendor found to be participating without permission from the department must be ordered by the organizer to leave the premises of the event. 

Vendors must submit applications, as well.  That application can be found here.  These applications must be submitted no less than 21 days prior to the event.  One may ask, “what if we have changes?” or “what if a vendor cancels?”.  Cobb County will allow the swapping of vendors for new vendors, up until 1 week prior to the day of the event.  Due to the short time frame, swaps at this point may only be a permitted Cobb County food truck.  You can find a list of Cobb County permitted trucks here.

It is the responsibility of the organizer to ensure that there are enough portable sanitation units available, if central restrooms are unavailable.  You can find more information on portable sanitation units for special events here and a list of state certified service providers here.

Event Setup

The following is required for temporary food setup in Cobb County:

  1. At least one hand washing station, equipped with warm potable water (via a spigot that allows for a continuous flow of water), soap, and paper towels. 
  2. A station for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing dishes utensils and surfaces.  A test kit or testing device must accompany sanitizer.
  3. Hot holding equipment (if serving hot foods) capable of holding product at 135°F or higher.
  4. Cold holding equipment capable of holding time and temperature controlled for safety (TCS)  foods at 41°F or below.
  5. Gloves, tongs, utensils, or deli paper to avoid bare hand contact with Ready-To-Eat (RTE) foods.

For more information, and to ensure readiness, please see and use this checklist here to prepare for a temporary food service event in Cobb County.

Vendor Tips

Food preparation may be done only in permitted kitchens/locations.  Foods found to be prepared in unapproved locations are subject to being discarded.  Limited food prep may be done on site.

  • Fresh produce must be pre-washed/precut OR washed and cut in permitted location only.
  • Hair of food handlers must be effectively restrained.
  • It is important to take proper measures to maintain hot or cold temperatures during the transport of food to the event site, as it may be difficult to warm or cool product on site.
  • Raw animal product must always be stored separate from Ready-To-Eat (RTE) or cooked foods.
  • Calibrated thermometers must be on hand to measure the internal temperature of TCS foods.
  • Physical barriers (covers, hoods, mesh netting) are required to protect foods from contamination and/or the elements.
  • There must always be a designated Person-In-Charge to oversee operations as well as answer questions about food safety during operation.

We look forward to the commencing of the temporary event season.  Should you have further questions, please visit our website at www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com or contact our Temporary Food Service & Seasonal Events Coordinator, Kim Brown at Kimberly.M.Brown@dph.ga.gov.

In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy!

Staying on Top of Key Drop Deliveries!

By Addie Zuniga, EHS2

An important duty of the person-in-charge (PIC) is to ensure the integrity and proper sourcing of food products received. This includes reviewing invoices, examining packaging, and verifying proper internal temperatures of Time-Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods as it comes into the facility. It’s the duty of the PIC to make sure packages are examined at the time of receipt, in order to reject any items that may appear damaged or tampered with, or TCS foods that are outside the safe temperature range.  But what about key drop deliveries?

Many food distributers run overnight routes, and this allows facilities the option of overnight deliveries. This is known as a “key drop delivery” – when food deliveries are dropped off in a kitchen, often inside a walk-in cooler, while the business is closed. This can be a convenient set-up, but how would the PIC maintain active managerial control over these deliveries when employees may not arrive at the facility for several hours after the truck has left?  The PIC must designate someone to look for damaged packaging or recalled products upon arrival, allowing those to be set aside for return and not served. However, temperature abuse can be hard to identify, especially if the TCS foods have already been in a walk-in cooler for a long period of time since delivery.  For example, there would be no way for the PIC to know if the refrigeration in the delivery truck had failed and that the TCS foods were transported for several hours in the temperature danger zone overnight, thereby posing a significant food safety risk. Therefore, it is not enough that a PIC simply verify internal temperatures of TCS foods when they arrive at the facility after a key drop delivery.

If a facility is considering key drop delivery, they must establish procedures with the distribution company, that the delivery drivers would be required to follow. There should be a written agreement in which the drivers are tasked with verifying and documenting the internal temperatures of a sample of TCS foods at the time of delivery, for the PIC to review. This is most often achieved by the driver noting the temperatures of various items on the invoice which is then left behind with the delivery.  These procedures may vary, but they should be detailed in the agreement. The PIC should maintain the right to reject these products, even after the driver has left, if they are not satisfied with documented temperatures or other conditions. This policy provides the PIC with the information they need to maintain managerial control over these products, and to know that they are safe for service.

This contract and procedure between the facility and the distributor must be approved by the health authority prior to key drop deliveries being implemented. The PIC should also keep a copy of the signed contract, as well as a recent sample of documented delivery temperatures, onsite for review during each health inspection. This documentation indicates to the health inspector that the PIC is maintaining active managerial control, and that foods are arriving safely and from approved sources.  If you are interested in key drop deliveries, please review the Key Drop Deliveries guidance document produced by Georgia Department of Public Health and our website for additional information. 

Straight from the Field: Where’s the CFSM?

By Casey Saenz, Environmental Health Specialist 3

Recently, I performed an inspection at a facility that is not located in my normally assigned area, and while looking around the kitchen, one of the first questions I asked the Person In Charge (PIC) was “how often is the Certified Food Safety Manager here?”  [The PIC was not listed as the Certified Food Safety Manager (CFSM) on the certificate posted on the wall.]

The answer was “not very often”.

This question was prompted by the large number of violations that I spotted within the first few minutes of the inspection.  One such violation was an obvious cross contamination violation (see below).  That, along with a swollen bottle of expired salad dressing which was ready for service, made me think that the CFSM is definitely not doing what he is supposed to to be doing–which is ensuring food safety and proper staff training!

canton wings pic

With the most recent updates to Georgia’s Rules and Regulations for Food Service, the CFSM is considered to be ‘key’ to maintaining food safety.  The CFSM not only has the responsibility to ensure that the food is safe for consumption, but he/she also has to make sure that ALL of the facility’s employees are well trained, especially for the times when the CFSM is absent.

This particular restaurant inspection ended with a grade of 70/C, and it may have been low enough to gain the attention of a local newspaper.

Don’t let your restaurant get to the point of no return.  Keep your staff trained and current on food safety practices to help protect your customers from foodborne illness esand limit the possibility of a foodborne illness outbreak.

Please take a minute to read over the How can I prepare my establishment for inspection? document located on our website for duties expected of the CFSM.