Jim’s Burgers in California shut down after repeated health threats

Raw chicken and meat patties stored at unsafe temperatures, a clogged floor sink with standing water and dead cockroaches were discovered at Jim’s Burgers in Pico Rivera during an inspection that ultimately led to the restaurant’s permanent closure last month.

jim's.burgersLos Angeles County Public Health Department officials said the June 17 decision to revoke the burger restaurant’s health permit was the result of repeated food temperature violations — a major public health threat — but over the course of six prior routine inspections the restaurant at 4549 S. Rosemead Blvd. never had its permit suspended for those problems.

“The Department has worked in earnest with the owners to rectify repeat violations due to unsanitary conditions,” said county health officials in a statement issued less two weeks before revoking the restaurant’s permit.

Despite logging some of the highest health code violations in the county, the restaurant was only closed once for failing to comply with letter grade posting requirements under a system that allows too many facilities to operate with unsafe and unsanitary conditions and misleads the public about what’s actually going on behind kitchen doors, according to a Los Angeles News Group review of 21 months of food facility inspection data.

France goes QR code in Paris and Avignon

For every food hygiene official control, an inspection report is issued and indicates if the restaurant is compliant with food hygiene regulations. These official controls are here to ensure that food placed on the market is safe to eat. In case of non-compliances, corrective actions must be taken by the person who owns or manages the business.

qr.code.rest.inspection.gradeArticle 45 of the newly enacted French Law on the future of agriculture, food and forestry specifies that the results of official controls shall be made public in accordance with modalities which will be laid down by specific regulations, this is the transparency initiative.

This means food businesses’ compliance with the legal requirements will be visible to anyone, for the benefit of consumers but also of food business operators. That initiative will be a strong incentive for the food industry to continuously improve the sanitary conditions prevailing in their establishments, and will consequently allow them to be rewarded with positive outcomes of official controls.

Now the operators can download a QR-Code to display voluntarily on their storefront vitrine about this scheme. This QR-Code will be also given by the inspection services.

Restaurant grading: 15 years in Toronto, 5 years in New York

It’s just a snapshot in time, but it’s a minimal tool to hold food providers accountable.

jake.gyllenhaal.rest.inspection.disclosureThe New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports that restaurants are performing better on inspection and are cleaner than ever:
• Nearly 60% percent of restaurants now earn an A on their initial inspection;
• Letter grading has vastly diminished the public health risks associated with dining out; there has been a 23 percent drop in violations from the peak in 2012; and,
• 91 percent of New Yorkers approve of restaurant grading, 88 percent use grades in making their dining decisions and 76 percent feel more confident eating in an A-grade restaurant.

1 dead, 248 sick from Salmonella at Tarheel Q

One person has died in connection to the Salmonella outbreak at Tarheel Q, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.

tarheel.qA total of 248 cases have been identified as of Wednesday.

According to DHHS, of the 248 cases:

55 percent are male

41 percent are between the ages of 20 and 49

20 percent have visited their provider

13 percent have visited the emergency department

6 percent have been hospitalized

1 death has been identified

Since the outbreak, six people have filed lawsuits against the restaurant.

Tarheel Q, located on Highway 64 West in Davidson County, re-opened Wednesday morning.


Pay attention when staff barf: 96 sickened from Cowfish in NC

At least 96 people were sickened during the Norovirus outbreak at The Cowfish restaurant in early June, according to county health department records obtained by the Observer.

norovirusThe records, obtained through a public records request, provide the fullest account yet of the extent of the illnesses at the popular SouthPark sushi and burger bar.

Records show one Norovirus case was confirmed by a state Department of Health and Human Services laboratory. Ninety-five others were deemed “probable” by health officials. Just one person reported visiting a hospital.

The outbreak prompted the restaurant to close twice, once on June 5 and again on June 10. It reopened June 16.

Cowfish owner Alan Springate, responding by email to questions from the Observer, said his staff began to suspect a problem late in the day on Friday, June 5, when a customer reported some members of his party had become ill in the preceding two days.

Wednesday and Thursday of that week, two other guests had reported illnesses, but the restaurant had suspected a problem with a food item, calamari, which both guests had consumed. Cowfish removed the item from its menu and contacted its suppliers.

The person reporting on June 5 had not consumed calamari, though. At that point, “we began to consider the possibility that we were dealing with something other than a food issue,” Springate wrote.

After the Cowfish posted news of its closing on Facebook June 6, others began coming forward to report they’d been sickened. The restaurant contacted each of them and shared details with the health department, Springate said.

By the time the restaurant knew something was amiss on June 5, at least nine of the restaurant’s roughly 140 employees had been sickened, according to a report by state health inspector Nicole Lee. The first fell ill May 31, she wrote.

Springate’s email said that while some employees had called in sick, “nothing raised a red flag.”

“It’s critical to understand that although we now know we were experiencing an uptick in illness, many employees had not yet notified us because they were not scheduled to work,” he said.


Tennessee offers new app that shows restaurant inspection scores

The Tennessee departments of Health and Agriculture have partnered to develop a mobile app that allows users to check any Tennessee restaurant inspection score no matter where they are located.

tn-restaurant-scores-logoThe free app, available for both iOS and Android, lets users view health inspection scores from Tennessee restaurants and retail stores that prepare food, including grocery stores and convenience markets. The first screen of the app displays a map showing restaurants near the user and the most recent score for each location. It also includes scores for hotels, hospitals, schools and food trucks’ central kitchens. Users will have access to the last three inspection scores for each business and if any violations were cited, the app provides information about what was not in compliance with the Tennessee Retail Food Safety Act.

Updated daily, the feature that makes the app different from Web-based inspection scores is the ability for users to personalize it to see what is most important to them. Locations can be saved to a Favorites list for quick access to scores, and search results can be filtered to show only locations that have scores within a certain range. The Restaurant Inspection Scores app was developed by NIC, Inc., Tennessee’s eGovernment Partner since 2000. To obtain the app, go to http://tn.gov/main/article/mobile-apps.

Food fraud detection: Chinese team develops new method for rapid authentication of edible oils and screening of gutter oils

The Food Safety and Technology Research Centre under the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a new method for rapid authentication of edible oils and screening of gutter oils. Authentication of edible oils has been a long-term issue in food safety, and becomes particularly important with the emergence and widespread use of gutter oils in recent years. However, the conventional analytical approach for edible oils is not only labor intensive and time consuming, but also fails to provide a versatile solution for screening of gutter oils. By setting up a simple analytical protocol and a spectral library of edible oils, the new approach is able to determine the authenticity of a labeled edible oil sample and hence screened gutter oils within five minutes.

1-polyudevelopThe conventional approach for edible oil authentication involves labor-intensive and time-consuming sample pretreatment and the subsequent chromatographic separation to separate complex sample mixture before mass spectrometric detection, a commonly used technology for identification and quantitation of chemical compounds. The whole process takes a few hours to analyze one sample. On the other hand, identification of gutter oils mainly involves detection of certain food residue markers or toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the sample. However, due to the vast diversity of gutter oils, and the fact that target compounds could be removed by processing, a universal strategy to screen gutter oils is not available at present.

PolyU researchers have developed a simplified method for direct analysis of edible oils using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS). In the new MALDI-MS approach, only simple sample preparation, automatic data acquisition and simple data processing are involved. High quality and highly reproducible MALDI-MS spectra results can be obtained using this method, and a preliminary spectral database of labeled edible oils available in the market has been set up. Since different types of edible oils have different MALDI-MS spectral patterns, the authenticity of an edible oil sample can then be determined within five minutes by comparing its MALDI-MS spectrum with those of its labeled oil in the established database. Since this method is capable of authenticating edible oils, it also enables a rapid screening of gutter oils, given fraudulent mislabeling is a common feature of gutter oils.

The related paper has been recently published on Analytica Chimica Acta, a leading journal in Analytical Chemistry. The research team will establish a more complete MALDI spectral library of various edible oils in the coming two years, and improve the library searching technique. In addition, more testing of edible oil samples with different MALDI-MS equipment will be carried out to further validate the new approach.

When food safety complaints aren’t real: Missouri health types respond to claims at Kauffman Stadium

The Kansas City Health Department has received within the last week at least two fraudulent food safety complaints made at Kauffman Stadium.

ARAMARK ME 042115 DRE 0064fAccording to the health department, in one case, an individual contacted the city’s 311 Action Center impersonating an Aramark food service employee to report supposed safety issues.

The department uncovered the false claim when following-up with the employee; in this case it was discovered that the person’s identity was deliberately misrepresented.

“Kansas City’s Health Department performs thousands of inspections each year, and each complaint is taken seriously,” said Naser Jouhari, environmental health services division manager. “The reporting of deliberately false claims does a disservice to our entire community and wastes taxpayer dollars.”

In another case, an individual sent a tweet to the health department’s Twitter account and posted a photo of unsafe food allegedly served at Kauffman Stadium. Further investigation determined the photo was lifted from an unrelated Florida news story and falsely represented as food served at Kauffman Stadium.

“Food safety is our highest priority and the Kansas City Health Department continues to be supportive of our safety program and practices,” said Carl Mittleman, President of Aramark’s sports and entertainment division. “We respect the health department’s obligation to follow up on complaints; however, we find the nature and timing of multiple attempts to undermine our efforts to be very troubling.”

The health department continues to make regular inspections at food handling facilities within Kauffman Stadium, officals said.

This year, the department has made 10 visits and conducted 147 inspections; the most recent inspection at Kauffman Stadium occurred June 19, as a follow-up to a complaint.

Duh files: UK will push for mandatory restaurant inspection disclosure following Welsh success

Brisbane, are you listening?

Voluntary restaurant inspection disclosure means the good ones will brag and the bad ones will be quiet, sorta with their heads down, hoping no one will ask them a question

orillia.rest.disclosureThe UK Food Standards Agency will now do what it should have done all along: provide Government with evidence to support mandatory display of food hygiene rating scores for England by autumn 2015.

Following the rise in Welsh food hygiene standards since the introduction of mandatory display of scores in November 2013, The Food Standards Agency will be pushing this year for the same to be carried out in England.

A recent FSA audit of the food hygiene rating scheme in England in 2013/14 showed that only 35% of English food businesses displayed their ratings in a position that’s visible before entering the premises. Predictably, most of those establishments had received a 4 or 5 food hygiene rating score. The results of further auditing will be released later this month (April 2015).

Before legislation came into force in Wales which instructed that all food businesses must display their food hygiene rating score, 45% had a 5 food hygiene rating and 87% had a 3 or above. And after just 12 months of the enforcement, 56% recorded a 5 rating and 93% 3 or above.
These figures will be used as supportive evidence for the introduction of mandatory display of food hygiene rating scores when the FSA comes to lobby Government later this year.

In its evidence for ministers, the FSA is also likely to use the results of research by the Policies Studies Insitiute into the impact that the scheme has had on food hygiene compliance and the occurrence of foodborne disease.

Chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) Graham Jukes said, “CIEH fully supports the mandatory display of FHRS in food premises. It is clear from the evidence in Wales that mandatory display is an important and effective tool in raising standards in food businesses, driven by simple consumer information messaging. Given the evidence why are we delaying the implementation in England and the rest of the UK?”