Handwashing matters: Atlanta area Hibachi Express fails reinspection

I’m often critical of the retail/foodservice’s focus on temperatures (cooking, cooling, holding) as the biggest noncompliance area, which gets extrapolated to what needs to be controlled.

Out of temp foods are easier to inspect for than cross-contamintation and hygiene: they are measured with a thermometer and don’t require observation of the act - so the relative number of data points skews  compliance data towards temperature control. Also, norovirus is so prevalent (70% of the foodborne outbreaks are associated with food service) and temps don’t really matter with that pathogen. hand_washing

Looking for, and shutting a place down because of, poor handwashing is good.

Gwinnett County health officials suspended service at a Lawrenceville Hibachi Express and conducted on-site food safety training after the restaurant failed a second inspection in less than 10 days.

According to the inspection report, employees were not washing their hands when re-entering the food prep area after returning from the restroom.

Hibachi Express, 1417 Grayson Highway, Lawrenceville, scored 46/U on the follow-up inspection. The restaurant scored 63/U on a routine inspection seven days earlier, and prior to that had an 81/B.

Also, one of the restrooms had been turned into a sleeping area and was also used to store toilet paper and napkins. The other one was being used as a unisex restroom, the inspector said.

I don’t want my napkins stored in someone’s bedroom.

Portable poopers to manage San Fran shit

Ariel Schwartz of Co.Exist writes that San Francisco has a poop problem. The city suffers from an excess of excrement on public streets and even in the innards of subway escalators, where it renders them unusable. Part of the issue is that the city has never effectively dealt with its homeless population (there up to 10,000 homeless in the city), and a failure to provide public bathrooms that aren’t eventually shut down because people use them to do drugs.

Tenderloin Pit Stop,Now that’s changing.

This past summer, San Francisco announced the launch of Tenderloin Pit Stop, a series of mobile bathrooms that each comes with a sink, two toilets, a dog waste station, and a needle disposal bin. An attendant stands outside of each bathroom during the day, and bathroomgoers get five minutes to do their business before the attendants come calling. Every evening, the toilets are taken away by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and cleaned.

Each bathroom is placed strategically based on the DPW’s reports of human feces on the street. Those reports tend to be clustered in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, as you can see on this map, called (Human) Wasteland. Created by a web developer named Jennifer Wong, the map uses complaints about feces and urine phoned into DPW in 2013 (over 5,000 in total) to figure out where the poop problem is worst.

False sense of security? Study finds NYC food vendors don’t change gloves enough

The majority of New York City mobile food vendors don’t change their gloves after exchanging money and before serving the next customer, as required by law, found a new study.

California-Glove-LawResearchers from William Paterson University in New Jersey studied 10 food carts within 10 densely populated areas of Manhattan — 100 carts total. They found that 56.9% of 1,804 customer transactions they saw did not involve the vendor changing gloves in between handling money and the next person’s order.

The results were “eye-opening from a public health perspective” because of foodborne illness risk, said study author Corey Basch.

“Being observant to the glove-changing behaviors of the vendors as well as overall hygiene is prudent and can reveal a great deal in a short time,” she said.

The New York City Health Code 81.13 requires that food vendors change gloves “after handling raw foods, performing tasks that do not involve food preparation or processing, handling garbage, or any other work where the gloves may have become soiled or contaminated.”

It’s dry in here: Bugs on bathroom surfaces largely dormant

Human-associated bacteria dominate the built environment (BE)


Following decontamination of floors, toilet seats, and soap dispensers in four public restrooms, in situ bacterial communities were characterized hourly, daily, and weekly to determine their successional ecology. The viability of cultivable bacteria, following the removal of dispersal agents (humans), was also assessed hourly.

toilet_graffiti_620A late-successional community developed within 5 to 8 h on restroom floors and showed remarkable stability over weeks to months. Despite late-successional dominance by skin- and outdoor-associated bacteria, the most ubiquitous organisms were predominantly gut-associated taxa, which persisted following exclusion of humans. Staphylococcus represented the majority of the cultivable community, even after several hours of human exclusion. Methicillin-resistant  Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)-associated virulence genes were found on floors but were not present in assembled Staphylococcus pan-genomes.

Viral abundances, which were predominantly enterophages, human papilloma virus, and herpes viruses, were significantly correlated with bacterial abundances and showed an unexpectedly low virus-to-bacterium ratio in surface-associated samples, suggesting that bacterial hosts are mostly dormant on BE surfaces.

Ecological succession and viability of human-associated microbiota on restroom surfaces

Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 81, Issue 2, January 2015, Pages 765-773

S. Gibbons, T. Schwartz, J. Fouquier, M. Mitchell, N. Sangwan, J. Gilbert, and S. Kelley

http://aem.asm.org/content/81/2/765.abstract?etoc

4th-graders in New York planned to kill teacher with hand sanitizer

Law enforcement officials say a group of fourth-grade students allegedly talked about trying to kill their teacher with hand sanitizer because she was mean to them, but concerned parents and a school board member foiled the plot.

teacher-sanitizer-insertThe alleged incident happened in December just before winter break, and according to the police report, three students between ages 9 and 10 at Elba Elementary School, located between Rochester and Buffalo, were involved.

Their plan was to expose a teacher to anti-bacterial products because she is highly allergic to them.

The report, provided by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, said, “the suspects made comments to other students that they were going to kill (the teacher) by putting antibacterial products around the classroom.”

No handwashing for staff: UK food company ordered to pay nearly £30,000

A Bradford food company has been ordered to pay nearly £30,000 for its persistent failure to comply with “integral” hygiene regulations, such as providing handwashing facilities for staff.

handwash_south_park(2)Ahmer Raja Foods Ltd, which trades as Rajas Pizza Bar on Leeds Road, was fined the bulk of the money, £20,000, for refusing to comply with a number of improvement notices issued by Bradford Council’s environmental health team.

Noone from the company attended the hearing at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court yesterday, but 21 breaches of food hygiene regulations were proven in their absence, and the firm was told to pay a total of £29,895 within 28 days.

Harjit Ryatt, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, told the court that on five visits to the premises between January 24 and April 9 this year, officers found a lack of wash basins for staff, food handlers not wearing the correct protective clothing, and food kept in dirty or broken containers.

NZ preschool blames hand sanitizer for child’s drunkenness

The owner of an early childhood centre in Invercargill, New Zealand, where a 4-year-old became grossly intoxicated says the girl consumed alcohol-based hand sanitizer and the center would not be using the product again.

dumboJackie Woodward, owner of the Woodhouse Early Learning Centre, has spoken of the “horrific” few days she and her staff have endured after the girl was hospitalized in a drunken stupor shortly after leaving the childhood premises.

The girl was picked up by her mother from the center at 5.30pm on Monday.

But the mother soon became alarmed at her behavior and rushed her to hospital, where she collapsed into a nurse’s arms and was later diagnosed as being intoxicated. Her alcohol reading was 188mg, nearly four times over the legal driving limit.

Woodward said they believed the girl had climbed onto a bookshelf and reached the hand sanitzser connected to the wall above while the on-duty staff member was putting on a load of washing in another room.

The mother has criticized Woodward’s staff for failing to pick up that her daughter was drunk.

Woodward, who has removed the hand sanitizer from its position and put it in a locked room, said she would not be using the product again, instead sourcing non-alcoholic hand cleaning products.

“I had no idea it was 60 to 70 per cent alcohol content.”

She was relieved the child was okay.

Science! MIT experiencing gastroenteritis outbreak

The boffins at MIT Medical need a refresher course in handwashing following an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis on campus.

scienceAccording to associate medical director Howard Heller, MIT Medical saw two patients with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea at the beginning of the week and 16 during the day on Wednesday. MIT-EMS responded to a few more cases overnight, and as of noon on Thursday, a small number of additional patients with similar symptoms had come into Urgent Care. Heller notes that cases do not appear to be linked to any specific dorm or dining hall.

“This may or may not be norovirus,” Heller says. Norovirus, which causes a severe and acute form of gastroenteritis, can spread quickly, especially in dense, semi-closed communities. “But whether it’s norovirus or not,” Heller continues, “our response should be the same — paying extra attention to practicing good hygiene. Frequent and consistent hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of this type of virus.” 

Hand dryers, even the fancy ones, suck: new study

Paper towels are rare in Australian restrooms, and it’s the same in Japan.

But new research confirms what we’ve been saying for a decade: hand dryers spew bacteria into the air and onto people.

hand-dryerConventional (warm air) and high-velocity (jet air) dryers alike spread bacteria into the air, according to the study. Airborne germ counts near warm-air dryers were found to be 4.5 times higher than the counts near paper towel dispensers, and the counts near jet air dryers were a whopping 27 times higher.

It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what’s probably going on here. As study leader Prof. Mark Wilcox, professor of medical microbiology at the University of Leeds, told The Huffington Post in an email:

“While jet air dryers are good at hand drying, they achieve this by using air velocities of about 400 miles an hour … Unfortunately, this means that the dispersed water droplets (containing more or less bacteria/viruses depending on how hands were washed and how contaminated they were in the first place) will be fired longer distances and some will remain suspended in the air for many minutes (possibly hours).”

For the study, the researchers contaminated people’s hands with harmless Lactobacillis bacteria that normally aren’t found in bathrooms. Then they measured levels of the bacteria in the air at distances of up to two meters away from the dryer after the people had dried their hands.

“This research was commissioned by the paper towel industry and it’s flawed,” a spokesperson for dryer maker Dyson told The Telegraph.

Wilcox acknowledged that the study was funded by the European Tissue Symposium, an association of tissue paper producers. But the group “played no part in the results analysis,” he said, adding that he had no ties to ETS other than the financial support for the study.

The study was published in the Journal of Hospital Infection and presented at a recent meeting of the Healthcare Infection Society in Lyon, France.

 

Louisiana: school credits handwashing stations with drop in absences

Pink eye, stomach bugs, flu, strep throat: the list can go on and on with reasons students miss school.  When one local school took a deeper look at absences from the previous school year, they incorporated a simple action plan to minimize school germs. 

handwash_south_park(2)Throughout the school day, two handwashing stations at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School in Lake Charles are put to use.  It is all in an effort to reduce the spread of germs at the root of many absences, says ICCS Director of Development, Erin Lang.  “In order to best educate them, we need them here and well,” said Lang.

When Lang and other school administrators reviewed absentee data from the previous school year, they knew something more needed to be done to keep students at their prime.  “If a good number of students are absent from a class, a teacher is unable to continue with a lesson,” said Lang, “it can slow down the learning process, it makes it difficult for those students who are out for an extended period of time.”

Dr. Tyson Green with Imperial Health has two children who attend school ICCS.  He says the spread of germs is rapid on school campuses.  “Whether it’s bacterial or viral, you start talking about the flu, you start talking about stomach viruses and things like that,” said Dr. Green.  “They’re going to get these with cross-contamination if they don’t wash their hands.”

The solution came through handwashing stations.  “What we found as the best way to protect our faculty and our students was basic handwashing with plain soap and water,” said Lang.

The biggest procedural change for students this school year is that as soon they walk into the school building, they go straight to the handwashing stations.  That’s the first wash of the day.  Then every bathroom break gets another hand wash, along with every entrance and exit from the school’s cafeteria.

Lang says the absentee numbers are already showing the success of the additional scrubbing.  “We have looked at our absentee rates from last year to this year, from the start of school through November, and we are already down 12 percent,” said Lang.