Straight from the Field: Overflowing Dumpsters!

By Parish Divinity, EHS3

While performing a change of ownership inspection at one of my facilities, I saw what was captured in the image posted above. Garbage should not be left on the ground outside of the dumpster. Not only is it an eyesore but it can attract the attention of insects and rodents.  This violation was documented on the inspection report under 17-B, Garbage/refuse properly disposed; facilities maintained.  Per the Georgia Department of Public Health Rules and Regulations for Food Service, 511-6-1.06(5) (p) and (r):

Maintaining Refuse Areas and Enclosures. A storage area and enclosure for refuse, recyclables, or returnables shall be maintained free of unnecessary items and clean.

Frequency. Refuse, recyclables, and returnables shall be removed from the premises at a frequency that will minimize the development of objectionable odors and other conditions that attract or harbor insects and rodents. 

Be mindful to monitor the refuse storage area frequently to make sure that the garbage inside the dumpster is being removed.  This will prevent the buildup of food debris and trash that can attract unwanted insects and rodents. Other tips to help keep the area sanitary include posting a “CLOSE DOOR AFTER USE” sign on the dumpster as a reminder for user,  keeping the dumpster’s drain plug securely in place to prevent the entry of rodents, and arranging to have the dumpster rinsed, as needed, by its service company.

Straight from the Field: Swept Away!


A co-worker and I recently inspected a fast food facility, and we noticed that they had a problem with roaches in the kitchen (my co-worker quickly spotted one crawling along an electrical cord).  As we began to inspect other areas of the kitchen, we saw buckets full of grease and food debris along the coved base of the floor, but one thing that really stood out in this roach-saga was their broom and dustpan.  This dastardly “cleaning” duo could easily serve as a well stocked food court for many pests.

We immediately reminded the person in charge (PIC) about the importance of keeping non-food contact surfaces clean, especially as a means to help prevent a pest infestation.  This illustrates the importance of routinely cleaning non-food contact surfaces, and it shows how quickly things can get out of control when this task is overlooked.

Along with writing up a violation under Item# 18 for Pest and Animal Control, this violation was also marked under Item# 15C, for uncleanliness of non–food contact surfaces.  As the Rules and Regulations for Food Service states, these non-food contact surfaces must be cleaned at a sufficient frequency to prevent the accumulation of soil and debris.

– Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS

Straight from the Field: Dry Storage Gone Bad!


Toward the end of this facility’s last routine inspection, I realized that I had not yet seen their dry storage area. I asked the person-in-charge (PIC) to show me where it was located. When the PIC unlocked the closet, I was a little surprised (and also grateful) that nothing toppled onto my head.

This is a good example of how not to store food, equipment, utensils, and paper goods. As you can see from the picture, this arrangement does not allow much room for cleaning the floors and walls. This could also lead to a huge problem with roaches or rodents because there are plenty of places for them to hide and any evidence of their presence would be difficult to see. I quickly informed the PIC that this room was a public health concern and explained why it was critical that all of these items needed to be stored at least 6 inches above the floor.

This violation was marked under 14B: “Utensils, equipment and linens: properly stored, dried, handled” on their food service inspection.

Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS3

Straight from the Field: Would you like some extra protein with your meal?


Sometimes the easy solution to a pest control problem may not be the best solution, especially when food is involved .  This fly encrusted tape, observed in a kitchen during my routine inspection, is serving as a potential contaminant of food and equipment that may only get worse as it attracts more insects.  Even though the insect’s legs are stuck to the tape, the laws of gravity may take their toll on the rest of the fly’s decaying body. Needless to say, I quickly instructed the Person- In-Charge (PIC) to remove the fly tape and call a licensed pest control operator for assistance.

This serves as a really good reminder—especially since the weather is warming up— to keep all of your exterior doors and windows closed unless they are properly protected by screens and to implement an effective pest control strategy with the assistance of a licensed pest control operator.

Related content from the Rules and Regulations for Food Service:

The presence of insects, rodents, and other pests shall be controlled to minimize their presence and to remove dead or trapped birds, insects, rodents, and other pests to prevent their accumulation, decomposition, or the attraction of pests.

– Contributed by Casey Saenz, EHS3

Straight from the Field: Improper Materials for Food Contact Equipment (a reminder from Jen Birdsong, EHS3)


This particular facility had been using this arrangement to rest greasy “food contact surface” equipment and utensils.  The cardboard certainly does absorb grease, but this material can also become a source of cross contamination when its absorbent surface touches a food contact surface. Additionally, reused corrugated cardboard may serve as a harborage location for insects, such as roaches.

Remember, direct food contact and food equipment contact surfaces should be smooth, easily cleanable, and non-absorbent.

Violations of this type would be marked at Item 15A- Food and nonfood-contact surfaces cleanable, properly designed, constructed, and used.

FDA Oral Culture Learner Project

Most food service workers learn by spoken word and illustration.  The FDA has posters and storyboards available in nine different languages to enhance your food safety training efforts in the areas of employee health and food safety practices/principles. The material is especially designed for oral culture learners.

Find out what is available to help with your training needs at the following link:

Stories from the Field – Teachable Moments

Contributed by Jen Mesta, Environmental Health Specialist 3

Improper Cooling

On a recent inspection in a full-service restaurant, I did a quick walk-through of the kitchen to see what activities were going on. I notice the racks of meat cooling and the nine or so sealed bags of hot cooked greens out on a prep table. Deciding to begin the formal inspection, I kept the greens in the corner of my eye for a few moments. Although there was active monitoring of the cooling of the meat, there was…no activity, no movement to get vegetables cooling rapidly. After talking with management about the greens the thought was because they are vegetables, they don’t pose a foodborne illness risk.   TEACHABLE MOMENT, I live for this stuff…

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