Should swimming pools have restaurant-like grades for safety? Toronto thinks so

Operators of pools, spas, hot tubs and wading pools in Toronto could soon be required to post on-site inspection notices, letting the public know if any health and safety violations have taken place.

caddyshack.pool.poop-1In 2011, the Star revealed that pool operators were racking up multiple infractions for everything from dirty water and malfunctioning equipment to missing safety gear, but those inspection results were not revealed to the public.

The news that swimmers, spa-goers and students were being put at potential risk of disease and injury prompted Councillor John Filion, then chair of the Toronto Board of Health, to call for a prominent display of proof as to whether the facilities met city standards.

On April 28, the board will consider a new proposal from the medical officer of health to determine whether the city should draft a bylaw that compelling operators of pools, public spas (hot tubs) and wading pools to post a sign or document showing inspection outcomes. The medical officer will report, with the city solicitor, on the content of the proposed bylaw.

If the board votes to proceed, the proposal will then be considered by city council on May 6. Council will make the final decision. The proposed bylaw would apply to more than 1,600 facilities.

Food safety in Lebanon: experts emphasize need for measures after scandals

Lebanon is in need of effective food safety measures in light of the series of food scandals that the country has witnessed, ministries and experts say.

The Lebanese food industry is rife with serious issues, said AUB Professor Zeina Kassaify. “Mislabeling is the key issue and the fact that we don’t have proper law or enforcement mechanism.”

lebanon.food.safety“Part of the law says we should be monitoring. … In the U.S. they have the FDA. If they find something that is not up to standard, they penalize people. Here it’s not like that, someone says something on TV and everyone gets outraged without there being any credibility.”

Pierre Abu Nakhoul, an engineer with the Industry Ministry who also carries out inspections, said a lack of resources had hampered monitoring efforts. The ministry must follow up on certain food safety aspects with 2,000 food companies. With the available staff, it could check up on 5-10 each day.

Furthermore, about 30 percent of those food companies are operating without permits, an issue that has also affected food safety monitoring.

The real problem is the overlapping authorities of different ministries with respect to monitoring food processing activities, according to Mounir Bissat, president of the Syndicate of Food Industries.

Vegas Firefly still doesn’t get food safety

In June 2013, Las Vegas’ Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar was linked to over 250 cases of salmonellosis. Investigators fingered cross-contaminated chorizo as the likely source. At the time of the outbreak owner Tabitha Simmons was quoted as saying, “It’s just sad because we’ve been vilified and we did not want anyone to get hurt. We certainly weren’t managing our restaurants poorly.”

firefly-300x300-300x300Now, Firefly has closed its Anthem-area location, citing inconsistent business at the Henderson store and a desire to focus on operations at its other restaurants.

Uh-huh.

The closure comes weeks after a routine inspection by the Southern Nevada Health District resulted in 38 demerits and a C grade for the Eastern Avenue restaurant on March 31. Firefly fired three employees as a result of the inspection, and a re-inspection on April 4 yielded 8 demerits and brought the grade back up to an A.

While Simmons said the closure wasn’t a direct result of the inspection, he acknowledged the restaurant probably wouldn’t have survived another significant loss in business.

Is it safe to keep a pig’s head with baked goods? Judge reserves decision on New Zealand bakery

The Bulls Bakery could be closed down because of problems with food safety, including a pig’s head kept with baked goods.

In Wanganui District Court on April 11, Judge David Cameron heard the Rangitikei District Council’s case for closing the High St business run by Santhya Sun.

pig.headJudge Cameron reserved his judgment until this week.

However, Mr Sun said he had tried hard to remedy problems and the council was unfairly targeting him.

Over the past year an inspector found mould growing on meat, rice and a tin of syrup, uncovered food, cooked and uncooked found placed together and a pig’s head from a home kill in the freezer with loose cakes like doughnuts and eclairs. Other problems included a pastry flan base uncovered with a plate of mince left on top, a mincer with old encrusted meat on it, fly spotting, and a sick baby playing with kitchen implements.

The council ordered the shop closed in December 2013 because of the unsafe food practices, but the owner defied the order and reopened it.

In January council did not renew Mr Sun’s registration and gave chief executive Ross McNeill the go-ahead to prosecute him.

Salmonella, staph, poop on sushi that sickened 220 in Mexico

Salmonella, fecal waste and Staphylococcus aureus were the bacteria that caused food poisoning in 36 customers three branches of Qué Rollo Sushi (Sushi Roll) and sickened up to 220.

sushi.vomit.apr.12Sergio Olvera Alba, director of Epidemiology, Ministry of Health, revealed the results of laboratory outbreak sushi, then matched the isolates with human samples.

Cheesecake Factory says ‘seriously’ its food is safe after 2 problematic health inspections

The Cheesecake Factory wants people to know it’s food is safe.

The restaurant is speaking out after two problematic health inspections at its Destiny USA location.

“The Cheesecake Factory takes food safety and sanitation very seriously and is committed to providing a safe dining experience to all of our guests,” Jeff Nemet, Regional Vice President of Operations, told CNYCentral in a statement. “Our 91310634-300x200guests can be assured that our food is safe and of the highest quality, and that we have taken immediate action to correct any deficiencies identified during the recent inspections. We worked closely with the health department and received an all clear following a re-inspection of the restaurant this morning.”

The Onondaga County Health Department says the most recent inspection Tuesday morning was satisfactory. The restaurant will have between 30 and 60 days to repair cracks in the floor of the walk-in freezer and cooler.

The health department found unsatisfactory conditions on two recent visits to the Destiny Cheesecake Factory.

On February 26, 2014:

Raw shrimp and raw chicken in drawer cooler at cook line noted between 64 degrees-68 degrees (corrected).
Reach-in drawer cooler at cook line noted at 64 degrees, not operating properly to maintain temperatures of potentially hazardous foods at or below 45 degrees (corrected).
Establishment failed to notify the Onondaga County Health Department regarding receipt of a possible food illness complaint.

On March 24, 2014:

Raw beef stored next to cheeses and raw whole shell eggs stored next to butter in walk-in produce cooler (corrected).
Male employee observed slicing bread with bare hands, bare hand contact noted (voluntarily discarded).
Employees observed scooping ice without wearing gloves or using approved gloveless scoop, no bare hand contact noted (corrected). Female employee observed placing fruit on glass with tongs using opposite bare hand to push fruit onto glass, bare hand contact noted (voluntarily discarded).
Buckets of sanitizing solution stored next to take-out boxes at server station (corrected). Container of dairy creamer on ice at server station noted at 49 degrees (corrected).
Individual portions of cooked red chili chicken improperly cooling in drawer cooler noted at 65 degrees-70 degrees (corrected).
Cooked chicken improperly cooling in walk-in cooler noted at 63 degrees (corrected).
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting stored on counter noted at 60 degrees. Cream marinara sauce in hot holding unit at cook line noted at 110 degrees (corrected).
In use knives improperly stored inside preparation top cooler, not considered a clean sanitized surface. Dishes in dish chiller at end of cook line not clean.
Evidence of employee beverage consumption noted in food preparation area.
Clean sanitized dishes not properly air dried before stacking.
Some shelving, some rolling racks and all step ladders not clean.
Floor in walk-in freezer noted cracked poor repair.
Floor in walk-in produce cooler noted in poor repair.

22 sick in Illinois: food poisoning suspected

The Jefferson County Health Department is investigating a possible outbreak of food poisoning which happened April 6.

Health Department Administrator Mark Stevens declined to give the location where the outbreak occurred. He said the department did not begin receiving reports of people becoming sick until April 9.

Becky Brooks, the director of nursing for the health department, said approximately 22 people are part of the department’s investigation, including the ones that presented no symptoms. Brooks confirmed there have been at least two hospitalizations as a result the incident — one person was still hospitalized Monday.

One of the victims said he and three other members of his group became sick following a Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn and he is part of the investigation. All food at the hotel is prepared by Krieger’s Sports Grill, which is apparently being investigated.

Homemade goods: most Hawaiian lawmakers not in compliance with food safety regulations

State legislators and their staff have been busy whipping up homemade goods for the annual Hawaii Food Bank fundraiser. The effort to raise cash lasts from January to early May and features a variety of fares, from Filipino food to brownies ala mode.   

“Any legislator good with fundraisers often has baked goods from their constituents, so that’s what we find here,” said Rep. Tom Brower.

Hawaii Food Bank fundraiserHowever, unbeknownst to many of the men and women who craft Hawaii’s laws, almost any food sold outside a restaurant or certified kitchen requires a permit.  
“These are short-term events or sales that are going to distribute food to the general public,” explains State Environmental Health Program Manager Peter Oshiro. “Anybody that has or wants to do those types of sales is required to get a temporary food establishment permit from the Health Department.”

Lawmakers organizing the annual drive for the food bank were caught off guard when approached by KITV4 about the need for a Department of Health permit.
“We make the laws here and it wouldn’t be prudent if we didn’t follow the laws that we make, and so it’s all about compliance,” said Vice-Speaker John Mizuno. “I’ll make sure that whenever we send memos at the kickoff of the Hawaii Food Bank fundraising effort, that we attach forms so that offices will know how to be in compliance.”

About 500 temporary food establishment permits are issued by the Health Department every month. Oshiro says the department just wants to make sure that all food is safe.  

Raw sewage, no hot water closes UK kebab shop

The Midhurst kebab shop has been fined for nine offences under food hygiene law in what was described as one of the worst cases of neglect of standards Chichester District Council (CDC) had ever seen.

Istanbul October 2010Following a routine visit by the council’s environmental health officers, the shop was voluntarily closed by Mr Dogdu in January last year after raw sewage was found in the premises close to the food preparation area.

Amongst many other serious matters there was also no working hot water system for washing equipment or hands, mouldy walls and food preparation surfaces in a state of disrepair.

Pleading guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court, Mustafa Dogdu who co-runs Ali’s Grill in North Street, has now been fined a total of £650. His brother Mehmed was cautioned by the council for two further offences.

The shop was allowed to reopen two days after the visit when the drains had been unblocked, hot water provided and other works requiring immediate attention completed.

NYC restaurant inspection and disclosure program sucks: expert?

Restaurant inspection and disclosure programs like the A, B, C system favored by New York City, has a lot of problems: but I wouldn’t want to be the politician who says, this public health data is too complicated for you, so it’s secret.

The challenge is how to best improve disclosure systems.

Artyom Matusov, a city council analyst – not sure what that is — told The NY Post that most restaurants haven’t improved since the city instituted its letter-grade inspection system — a sham that has fattened City Hall coffers but hasn’t produced the public-health improvements touted by the city.

qr.code.rest.inspection.grade“We have a government agency that’s willing to blatantly lie to the public. If we can’t trust the Health Department to provide real scientific data . . . then we can’t trust any agency.”

Maybe somewhat over the top, but there’s so many caveats with inspection and disclosure systems that it’s easy pickings.

The city trumpeted data that showed more restaurants got an A grade on their initial inspection since the start of the program.

But that method overrepresents the number of A grades, since A’s will “stick around longer” — up to a year before another inspection.

“The city’s restaurant grading system is completely arbitrary . . . and most restaurants aren’t doing well on the test, which itself is convoluted and impossible to figure out,” Matusov said.

Working for the council’s Governmental Operations Committee, Matusov looked at how each restaurant performed during the initial inspection cycle to see if the new system was having an effect.

He found stagnation — about 30 percent of restaurants got A’s before and after the new system started.

“[The DOH] was saying to us that what we’re seeing is clear progress . . . There’s actually no improvement since before letter grading. It’s flat,” he noted.

“There’s been no improvement to overall health of New York City restaurants. It’s just a runaround game — we’re just trying to plug holes,” said Josh Grinker, chef at Brooklyn’s Stone Park restaurant.

Grinker said there’s no telling which violations, some having nothing to do with food, an inspector will target — for example, the construction of a non-food-contact surface.

“There’s something wrong with a department that’s supposed to be protecting the health of its citizens that isn’t looking at . . . factors that actually might have an impact on people’s health,” he said.

In March, the city tweaked its inspection system, making it less punitive by making a shift toward educating business owners first before fining them.

The DOH refused to answer any questions. The City Council, through spokesman Eric Koch, said that it “continues to monitor the restaurant grading system to ensure that it is effective in keeping restaurants safe for the public and that it is fairly administered.”