Cobb-Douglas Risk Factor Study Results

From March 2017 to April 2018, the Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH) Center for Environmental Health conducted a Risk Factor Study of its food service facilities to help measure the success of the CDPH Food Program in reducing the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors.  For this study, about 290 food service establishments were randomly selected in the health district for assessment regarding the factors determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contribute to the majority of foodborne illnesses:  food from unsafe sources, inadequate cooking, improper holding/time and temperature, contaminated equipment/cross contamination, poor personal hygiene.   In addition to a need to improve upon Employee Health Policy compliance being identified, the following were observed to have the highest percentage of non-compliance during the course of the study:  proper cold holding, cleaned & sanitized equipment, and personal hygienic practices.

Over the next few weeks, information regarding intervention strategies that will be implemented by CDPH to help improve compliance regarding these risk factors and public health interventions will be introduced.  The strategies are considered to be practical ways to enhance food safety.  There will be an opportunity for individual and facility recognition as well.  Stay tuned!

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Taking Ice for Granted

Reminders from Karen Gulley, Food Program Manager

In food service establishments, ice may be used for such purposes as keeping food cold, making drinks cool and refreshing, and as an ingredient—among other things.  Microorganisms may be found in ice, ice-storage chests, and ice-producing machines.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these microorganisms get into the ice mainly as a result of transfer from a person’s hands or due to the potable (drinking) water source used.  Examples of microorganisms that cause human infection from ice include Legionella from potable water, Norovirus and Cryptosporidium from water containing fecal contamination, and Salmonella transferred from a person’s hands.

Thus, importance should be placed on keeping ice protected from contamination in the food service establishments by ensuring good handling practices which includes effective handwashing, using and properly storing a clean, impervious scoop with a handle, and not allowing bare hand contact with ice used for consumption.  Another big area of emphasis should be the cleaning and maintenance of ice machines.

During food service inspections, ice machines and ice storage units and dispensers are often marked as being out of compliance.  As shown in these “before and after” pictures provided courtesy of WeCleanIce.com, the cleaning of the inside of ice machines is warranted but often overlooked when scheduling times for the thorough cleaning of equipment.  Manufacturers of ice machines usually provide instructions for their cleaning, however, if instructions are not available, check out the guidance provided by the CDC on page 80 of their Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.  Other helpful information regarding the importance of keeping ice safe is provided in the document as well.

 

NEW MENU LABELING REQUIREMENTS

In order to help consumers make more informed decisions, the FDA has enacted a menu labeling rule that will apply to food service facilities that are part of a chain of 20 or more locations conducting  business under the same name and offering menus with the same items.  Calories must be displayed in the area of standard menu items and, upon request, specific nutritional information must be provided.  Other food service establishments could benefit from incorporating the labeling guidance into their standard operating procedures as well.

For more information, check out the following tools:

Update Regarding E. coli O157:H7 Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Georgia is among 19 states, at this time, that have confirmed cases of persons that have become ill with E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona.  The following is advice from the CDC to food service operators and retailers:

  • Do not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce.
  • Food service operators and retailers should ask their suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce.

Visit Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers on the CDC’s website for more detailed guidance concerning the outbreak.

RECALL ALERT: FDA Issues Its First Mandatory Food Product Recall to Protect Consumers

After several food products manufactured by Triangle Pharmanaturals, LLC were found to contain Salmonella, the FDA issued a mandatory recall for food products containing powdered kratom that were manufactured, processed, packed, or held by this company.

Manufacturers usually issue voluntary recalls on products once notified of such a problem, however, in this case the firm was slow to respond.  Please see the FDA press release for information regarding possible contaminated products and important actions that should be taken.

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.

 

World Water Day 2018

Today is World Water Day.  The United Nations has declared this year’s theme to be Nature for Water – exploring how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.  For a fact sheet with more information, click here  or go to http://worldwaterday.org/app/uploads/2018/02/fact_sheet_WWD2017_EN_2.pdf

The source of our water–and its protection—is important to Food Safety.  We have to be mindful of possible runoff onto vegetable gardens from uphill sources of contamination, such as farm animals grazing and industrial activity.  Those in food service must ensure backflow is prevented at water faucets and hose connections; must maintain dishwashing water clean and sanitizing solution (including wipe cloth solution) at the correct concentration to help guard against contamination; must use foodgrade hoses on mobile food trucks and at temporary food events;    In other words, keeping our water safe is important near and far.