Lots of support for restaurant that had food handler with hepatitis A

n a truly Canadian move, more than 70 owners, management and staff from Sudbury bars and restaurants ate and drank at a Sudbury, Ontario (that’s in Canada) Casey’s in a show of solidarity. In early February over a thousand patrons might have been exposed to hepatitis A after a food handler was diagnosed with the virus. According to The Sudbury Star, even the local health unit, the folks who ran the hep A shot clinics, hosted a retirement party for over 40 folks at the restaurant.default-1

Last week, Peddler’s Pub invited fellow establishments to join them in a show of support for the Kingsway bar and grill, which suffered a publicity setback last month when an employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A and patrons were urged to get vaccines through the Sudbury and District Health Unit.

“It’s one of those unfortunate things that can happen to any restaurant,” said Peddler’s marketing manager Cliff Skelliter. “Casey’s is such an important part of our community. A lot of people have jobs there and the owners are amazing, just absolute sweethearts.”

Dave Temmerman, co-owner of Hard Rock, brought a contingent of 14 people affiliated with his Elm Street pub.

“In times like this it’s nice to know who your friends are and stick together,” said Temmerman.

The public should have no fear of dining at Casey’s, he said, as standards of hygiene at this restaurant are as strict as any he’s encountered.

“I’ve worked in a lot of places, and it’s one of the cleanest I’ve worked in,” he said. “What happened to them is just a bad deal. People in the industry know it can happen to anybody, and it’s not because their place is dirty.”

Casey’s owner Marty Wills said the endorsement of counterparts means a lot.

“It’s wonderful what all the other restaurants have done,” he said. “They’ve been getting together and showing a little love, a little support for us, because they understand we didn’t do anything wrong.”

The hepatitis A that was detected in a Casey’s employee “was never created here,” said Wills. “She just happened to work here.”

Having a clean restaurant (whatever that means) doesn’t really matter; in this situation, risk is influenced by the food handler’s handwashing behavior. US FDA risk factor studies have shown that handwashing compliance in food service isn’t great. Requiring your staff to have hep A vaccinations would avoid stuff like this.

Jersey officials plan database of restaurant health inspection reports, higher fines for violations

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Spurred on by the outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to a food server at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering, Hamilton Township in New Jersey is taking steps to ensure that every consumer knows just how safe — or unsafe — food establishments are, with an online database of food inspection reports scheduled to go live within the next few months.

jon.stewart.handwashing.2002“Accountability is everything,” township health officer Jeff Plunkett said on Friday. He said a new ordinance is also being drafted to increase fines for health code violations.

The new database will allow customers to simply search for the name of a restaurant to view its health inspection reports, Mayor Kelly Yaede said Friday.

“This is an initiative we’ve been working on for a year,” Yaede said, attributing the concept to one proposed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee at the 2014 U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“The number one goal of our health office is to maintain the public safety of our residents,” Yaede said. “This tool makes these restaurant inspection reports more readily available to individuals when they’re making a choice of whether they’re going to patronize a restaurant.”

It isn’t clear whether a restaurant’s entire history or recent history of inspection reports will be available, Yaede said.

“As much information as we have that’s accessible will be released to the public,” Yaede said.

The software will hopefully provide an incentive for restaurants to maintain clean bills of health: It could provide a sales boost for the cleanliest establishments and motivation for less cleanly restaurants to fix problems, Yaede said.

“It would be a positive tool for a majority of restaurants in Hamilton to help them promote their business,” Yaede said.

“And if you don’t have a good report? There’s more of a bite in it for enforcement,” Plunkett said.

Hep A is fecal-oral: Rosa’s Restaurant cited with handwashing violations shortly before Hepatitis A outbreak

Any time there is an outbreak of Hepatitis A, it’s not just a lack of vaccination, not just about identifying those at risk and giving them a shot, it’s about poop.

hepatitis.ASpecifically, that person making your salad went #2 and failed to properly wash their hands.

The Trentonian reports that the month before a Rosa’s Restaurant employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A — sending residents scrambling for vaccinations — the eatery was cited for numerous handwashing violations.

According to an Oct. 8 food inspection report obtained by The Trentonian through a public records request, the restaurant was listed as out of compliance for employees conducting handwashing in a timely manner, workers performing proper handwashing and the business providing paper towel for handwashing facilities.

Also marked as a violation, an employee was observed making sandwiches and handling rolls with his bare hands, while another worker was shredding and handling lettuce with his bare hands, the report states.

“Due to the number of critical violations, the person in charge is not demonstrating proper knowledge of food safety principles pertaining to this operation,” Hamilton Township food inspector Kelly A. Thomas wrote in her report, which gave the restaurant a conditionally satisfactory evaluation. “No proof of food handling certification was available on-site at time of inspection.”

In response to the October report and some of the continued handwashing violations throughout the years, restaurant owner Rosa Spera said in an email on Friday that her establishment has four handwashing sinks.

“On past inspections some of the signs reminding workers to wash their hands have been missing,” Spera stated. “Unfortunately, sometimes people remove the

After the first case of Hepatitis A was reported in late November, officials disclosed three other Hamilton area residents contracted the virus that had eaten at Rosa’s during the time period the worker was affected.

MrHankyHowever, township officials previously stated that it does not know with any certainty that any of the three cases had any link to or is a direct result of the original incident.

Spera said in the email it’s “unfortunate” that one of her workers got sick in November.

“When he did, he reported immediately to a doctor, not to work,” Spera stated. “When I learned of it, I took immediate action to take every precaution. With the guidance of the Hamilton Health Department, we threw away all open food and had the township observe our deep cleaning of all food areas.”

Jeff Plunkett, the township’s health officer, said in an interview on Tuesday, that the restaurant was closed for approximately seven to eight hours on Dec. 1.

“They had to remove the entire staff, bring an entire staff new that hadn’t worked there during that period of communicability when the gentleman was sick,” Plunkett said. “The entire place was clean and sanitized and witnessed by an inspector who was there the entire time.”

But even as the health inspector stressed the importance of wearing gloves on Dec. 1, Thomas stated in her report that she observed an employee slicing and handling bread with his bare hands. Two days later, Thomas stated she observed employees doing prep work scramble to put on gloves as she walked through the doors, while another employee put on gloves without washing his hands first, inspection documents read.

Name and shame, Victoria style

That’s Victoria, the Australian state, where 25 per cent of the name and shame offences in food service directly related to a lack of training.

trainingGrace Smith writes for the Australian Institute of Food Safety that once an eatery has been discovered to breach Standard 3.2.2 Clause 3(1) (b) of the Food Act S16 (1), their details are added to the register for twelve months where the public can access details about their misconduct. The clause demands that all food-based establishments are responsible for ensuring that the people who are supervising or undertaking food handling operations must have “knowledge of food safety and food hygiene matters”.

Some of the establishments that were charged with failing to comply with food safety training laws include:

Milk Torquay Pty Ltd: Fined $6000.00 as part of their aggregate order, with $10,000 costs.

High Street Bakers and Confectioners of Thornbury: Fined $40,700.00 as part of their aggregate order with $1,300.00 costs.

Dream Cakes Café of Oakleigh: Fined $5,000.00 as part of their aggregate order with $6009.35 costs, and $10,000 in another aggregate order with $6009 costs.

While it’s safe to say that these convicted vendors were found guilty of various breaches, including handwashing and cleanliness problems, it’s shocking to imagine that in 2014, restaurants, cafes, and eateries are still staffed by individuals ignorant of food safety matters.

The federal legislation in Australia currently states that all people who are responsible for handling food must undertake food safety training appropriate to their position. The law also requires that businesses comply with the Food Standards Code – a collection of individual food standards that was jointly developed by professionals in Australia and New Zealand. Providing people with food that does not meet this code is a criminal offence.

Furthermore, the state legislation in Victoria outlines that every business dealing with food must have a Food Safety Supervisor on staff who is reasonably contactable at all times. The Food Safety Supervisor must have completed a mandatory training course and is responsible for preventing, monitoring and dealing with food safety issues as they arise, as well as being responsible for the ensuring all food handlers are trained appropriately in food safety.

Republican senator says restaurants should be able to opt-out of mandatory handwashing

As Republican presidential hopefuls like Rand Paul and Chris Christie fall over themselves to claim the live-free-or-die vote by saying vaccinations should be optional, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis has gone further: laws requiring mandatory handwashing by food service employees are just regulatory burden.

handwashing.sep.12According to Daily Kos, Tillis made the declaration at the Bipartisan Policy Center, at the end of a question and answer with the audience. He was relaying a 2010 anecdote about his “bias when it comes to regulatory reform.”

“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,’” he said, “as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment literature, or whatever else.”

Restaurants can just opt-out and let the free market take care of business after word spreads of unsanitary conditions.

“That’s the sort of mentality that we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country,” he added. “We’re one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet.”

Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet joked that he was “not sure” he would shake Sen. Tillis’ hand when the discussion was over, causing the lawmaker and members of the audience to laugh.

With a check by Schaffner: How to avoid food poisoning at home

Science is about disagreements, revising knowledge and generating new evidence-based knowledge (someone will disagree with that).

Don-Schaffner-214x300Don Sapatkin of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently asked a number of food safety types about food safety at home. For fun, I asked friend of the barfblog and known bugcounter, Don Schaffner of Rutgers University (left, prettymuch as shown) his thoughts on the answers.

“Washing a sponge with soap doesn’t get rid of bacteria,” said microbiologist Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety (below, right). They grow at room temperature and get spread around anything else you wipe off. Put the sponge in a microwave for one minute to kill the salmonella and other bacteria,” he said.

Schaffner: Sort of true. Washing a sponge will probably remove some bacteria, but not all. Same with the microwave: it depends upon the microwave, the amount of moisture in the sponge, etc. A better practice may be to put your sponges in the automatic dishwasher, assuming you have one.

 Experts say most home kitchens are far dirtier.

Schaffner: Might be true, but science-based head-to-head comparisons are lacking.

 Cutting boards should not have hard-to-clean nicks and grooves (wood is better, Doyle said, because the resin has antibacterial properties).

Schaffner: Dean Cliver’s work showed wooden cutting boards to be safer, but the literature is far from clear on the matter.

 Washing chicken in the sink may sound hygienic but actually poses all sorts of risks.

Schaffner: Yup, this has good scientific consensus.

 “Every time you run your disposal in the sink you are generating a little airflow back up.”

michael.doyle.produce.07Schaffner: Yup, probably true.

 If you do wash chicken in the sink, clean it (the sink) with bleach (1 ounce in 1 gallon of water).

Schaffner: Giving bleach concentration recommendations always concerns me. The units are never the same, the knowledge about the type of bleach is never certain, and the type of surface being cleaned makes a difference (plates versus countertops).  I used to dream of creating a webpage that would definitively answer these questions, and do unit conversions. Now I have the same dream except it’s an iPhone app.

Craig Hedberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (below, left): “If you take this big mass of hot food and put it into a plastic container and put a lid on it, you are holding the heat in and slowing the cooling process, even if you put it in the refrigerator. You want to get it out of bacterial-growth range” – 40 to 140 degrees – “within a couple of hours.” Pouring it into containers no more than four inches deep speeds the process.

Schaffner: This is more or less correct, but I believe the correct depth of the food recommendation is 3 inches. It doesn’t really matter how deep the container is, it’s the depth of the food.

If food is not cooled fast enough, spores that survived cooking can germinate and grow bacteria. Reheating leftovers to 165 degrees for 15 seconds will kill them.

Schaffner: This is the general time temperature recommendation. I’ve never checked to see what log reduction it would give for Clostridium perfringens cells, but it’s likely sufficient.

Hedberg advises against washing prewashed bagged lettuce; E. coli and salmonella can adhere to cut surfaces and tiny pores. “If it’s contaminated, your washing it again would not eliminate the contamination,” he said. “If it is not contaminated, your washing may contaminate it.”

Schaffner: That is consistent with expert recommendations.

 Hands should be washed vigorously with soap before preparing food or eating; after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or even raw produce; and after smoking, eating, or drinking.

Craig HedbergSchaffner: Also after pooping or changing a diaper, handling pets etc.

 Countertops, cutting boards, utensils, etc., should be cleaned with hot water after every use.

Schaffner: I also recommend soap.

 Cooking and holding temperatures should be checked, which means having working thermometers. (The fridge should be set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit; the freezer, at zero or below).

Schaffner: They nailed this one.

 Everything should be clean: Garbage covered, or at least three feet from food-preparation areas; pets never allowed in the kitchen (and hands washed after petting).

Schaffner: I’m not sure where the three-foot recommendation comes from, and it’s probably not science-based. Does anyone really exclude their pets from the kitchen? When we had dogs their food and water dishes were in the kitchen. Good luck getting a cat to do anything you want to do.

To bring home cooks up to speed, the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension posts a quick home kitchen food safety best practices check-Up list: http://bit.ly/1xDO19F.

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.”