But girls can’t play (ice) hockey: Saudi Arabia municipality refuses to compromise on food safety

A number of restaurant owners whose businesses have been shut down recently by Jeddah’s municipality, have defied the decision by opening their doors again. Several owners also tried to attack inspectors, requiring the intervention of police to help close down their businesses.

sorenne.hockey.dec.14Muhammed Al-Buqami, Jeddah municipality’s spokesman, confirmed the events, noting that the decision to shut down the restaurants is only temporary. He said some of the establishments that opened without approval from the municipality, have been shut down again, and received a fine for violating the municipality’s ruling.

Al-Buqami also addressed the recent complaints made by these restaurant owners to the Makkah governorate, calling the municipality’s decree, an injustice.

Oregon deserves regular, visible grocery inspections

Following up on the series of articles by Tracy Loew about grocery store inspection disclosure in Oregon, her paper, the Statesman Journal, comes out in favor of full disclosure.

image4Good for them.

In Oregon, it is difficult for consumers to learn whether the food at their favorite grocery store is handled safely.

That is the state’s fault.

And that is unconscionable.

The understaffed Oregon Department of Agriculture lags far behind the nationally recommended schedule for store inspections. Even worse, the public cannot easily learn what the inspectors found.

As the Statesman Journal’s Tracy Loew reported last week in stories that should raise legislators’ ire, the Agriculture Department has a huge backlog of grocery store inspections. Some stores have not been inspected for years, even though the federal government recommends inspections every six months.

State agriculture officials say that is because they prioritize inspections based on which activities in the food chain represent the greatest risk to public health and which facilities have a history of problems. That approach sounds defensible from a risk-analysis viewpoint, but it leaves widespread holes in the food-safety system.

The number of serious violations found in grocery store inspections can be astounding. Some — food being sold past the expiration date, food stored at the wrong temperature and food-handling equipment that is unclean — are enough to make the stomach turn.

The Agriculture Department inspection staff is stretched too thin. And some legislators say the situation is not unique to that department.

deli.counterThe 2015 Legislature should undertake a thorough review of inspections conducted by the state’s licensing and regulatory agencies, including:

•Do the inspections serve the purposes for which they were intended?

•Should the inspection process be streamlined? Intensified? Eliminated?

•How are inspections financed, and is staffing appropriate for the workload?

•Are inspection reports promptly posted online, where they are easily available for public view?

For grocery stores, another question desperately needs answering: Should county health departments be given the duty — and the state funding — to inspect grocery stores.

Counties already inspect restaurants. Grocery stores have added delis and other restaurant-style options to meet Americans’ changing lifestyles. For many people, a quick stop at the grocery store has replaced either eating at home or dining out.

In contrast to the backlog in grocery store inspections, about 95 percent of Oregon restaurant inspections are completed on time. The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for those restaurant, cafe and food-cart inspections but delegates that work to counties.

Because grocery stores operate on slim profit margins and face intense competition, it’s in their best interests to have the cleanest, healthiest food handling, display and storage. Some stores have increased their own inspections to compensate for the infrequency of state inspections. That is to their credit.

Still, inspections throughout the food chain are among government’s most important roles. A government inspection report, especially one that the public easily can see, adds clout to the importance of food safety.

It is baffling that the Agriculture Department this year created a database to track inspections and findings but planned the database only for internal management use instead of posting the results online. That suggests misplaced priorities and misunderstanding of the importance of transparency. In contrast, Marion County has an easy-to-use public database of restaurant inspections.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislators have a duty to bring Oregon from one of the least progressive states on food-to-table inspections to one of the best. This is an issue of public health, accountability and transparency.

Oregonians should not have to file a public records request and pay a fee for a copy of a grocery store’s inspection report.

Oregonians should not be left in the dark about their neighborhood grocery stores.

Oregonians should expect that their state government ensures their food safety — regularly and publicly.

Get off of my cloud, get out of my restaurant: interfering with public health types in Canada

Toronto food safety inspector guru and friend of the barfblog, Jim Chan (left exactly as shown), writes with Si Le and Paul Di Salvo about the safety and legal implications of getting in the way when an inspector comes to visit.

jim.chanThe full paper is a good read, and available at http://pubs.ciphi.ca/doi/full/10.5864/d2012-015.

This case study outlines an obstruction incident involving a Public Health Inspector (PHI) being obstructed while conducting an inspection. PHIs are empowered by legislation to conduct inspections and investigations without obstruction or hindrance from any person. Managers and employers have a duty to ensure PHIs are able to conduct their work free from harm or harassment.

Previous case law provides an excellent perspective as to what actions constitute obstruction. In the current case, previous case law was used to substantiate the evidence and perspective of the Prosecutor and PHI when prosecuting the offender. To better safeguard PHIs during incidents involving obstructive behaviour, implementing an administrative warning system of problematic premises in addition to working in pairs, when feasible, will ensure inspection services are carried out safely and effectively.


Chips are down for Limerick take-away after inspection

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) served a partial closure order on Mr Kebab take-away on Kilfinane’s Main Street.

fsai.alan.reillyThe order, served on November 13, only refers to the rear potato preparation area of the establishment. The order is still in place.

The Limerick Leader asked the FSAI what the problems were with the rear potato preparation area but a spokesperson said they were “precluded by law to disclose any additional information on the nature of the enforcement orders other than outlined in the press release.”

The FSAI reported 11 closure and one prohibition order were served on food businesses during November for breaches of food safety legislation, pursuant to the FSAI Act, 1998 and EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010.

Mr Kebab was the only local one.

Commenting on the continuing high level of enforcement orders, Professor Alan Reilly, FSAI chief executive, warned that food businesses need to be vigilant in relation to food safety at all times, especially in the busy run up to Christmas, to ensure full compliance with food legislation.

“There can be no excuse for putting consumers’ health at risk through negligent practices or ignorance of the law. The legal onus is on all food businesses to ensure that the food they serve is safe to eat.”

Over 1,700 eateries raided in Ernakulam, India

The district health department on Friday raided 1,708 hotels, restaurants and other eateries in Ernakulam and slapped closure notices on 19 hotels. The hotels were found selling stale food items. Notices were also served to 316 hotels to rectify the defects detected during the raid. 

my-great-kerala-food-ernakulam-india+1152_13376006544-tpfil02aw-23483A canteen run by KSRTC at its depot in Paravoor was among the eateries shut down by the department. Earlier this year, KSRTC’s canteen at Aluva depot was closed due to unhygienic conditions. 

Around 80 hotels, situated in and around Aluva town, downed shutters till afternoon in protest against the health department’s decision to close down four hotels in Aluva. 

The Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA) said the raid was baseless and health officials were ignorant about the Food Safety and Standards Act. 

Health officials said the raid was conducted as part of ensuring hygiene during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

Mold on nozzles, poor temp control: Mexican restaurant allowed to reopen in Illinois

After failing a health inspection last week, Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, located at 1319 E. Jackson St., was allowed to re-open after a forced 72-hour closure, $1,500 fine and a follow-up inspection.

548a3dff433e2.imageThe health inspection conducted by the McDonough County Health Department details the violations that prompted the closure.

According to the inspection, “many foods” were not being kept under temperature control. Potentially hazardous foods must be kept lower than 41 degrees or above 135 degrees. There were tests showing hot foods only at 107 degrees, and cold foods at 56 degrees.                    

Mold growth was also a problem in the restaurant. Mold was found in the soda nozzles at the bar and on the ice machine.

Roaches everywhere: Florida restaurant reopens after closure

The Largo Family Restaurant, 788 Missouri Ave. N., was shut down as an emergency closure Nov. 20.

635538519632170263-rra2The restaurant is a favorite meeting spot for customers like Bob Swenson and Carol Usiak.

“We come here all the time,” said Swenson. “We’re regulars here.”

The establishment is popular with seniors and families with small children. But some of those customers could be susceptible to getting sick due to serious health code violations.

The restaurant was written up Nov. 20 with 31 violations.

Problems were so severe the restaurant was ordered to temporarily close with roaches running around the kitchen right above where an employee was prepping food.

It gets worse, with more live roaches found in a box of lasagna noodles near the spices and single service items, and another roach in the corn meal container.

The inspector even reported finding dead roaches in the soap dispenser used by employees to wash their hands.

Pennsylvania county wary of proposed letter grades for restaurants

While San Jose, Calif., embraces public information, Pittsburgh, Penn., appears stuck in a steel town past as six of the seven Allegheny County Council members who attended a public hearing asked questions that were critical of the proposed A-B-C letter-grade proposal, and none voiced support.

larry.david.rest.inspec“I just think it puts something up that’s causing a lot of angst without a lot of reason,” said Councilman Michael Finnerty, D-Scott, who chairs the Budget & Finance Committee on the 15-member council.

Dr. Lee Harrison, chair of the Board of Health, said the lack of support among the council members doesn’t spell defeat. A similar measure failed in 2011.

“We think from a public health standpoint that this is the right thing to do,” Harrison said.

Donna Scharding, the Health Department’s food safety program manager, said that in 2013, 56 percent of inspections found a high-risk violation, such as improper food handling or temperatures. In Los Angeles County and New York City, instances of foodborne illnesses decreased once grading systems started, Scharding told council members (tough to prove that one – dp).

Color placards for Calif. county restaurants hailed as ‘major new consumer protection initiative for diners’

“Whether you are grabbing a quick lunch or settling in for a fancy dinner, you want to know that the food was prepared in a kitchen that is clean and safe.” That’s how county Supervisor Joe Simitian summarized his push for a major countywide system that will eventually rate every one of the 8,000 dining places in the county and later all food trucks and caterers.

toronto.red.yellow.green.grades.may.11According to this editorial in the Mercury News, the San Jose area is going to adopt a Toronto-style red, yellow or green color sign in restaurant windows, and also put online the complete results of most recent inspections along with any past violations.

This significant public health program launched over the past year by the county’s Department of Environmental Health has been tested, vetted and analyzed at workshops along with a huge number of public comments. There are also on-going class sessions for restaurant operators and their staffs. And now it is ready for a rollout.

A variation of this program has been working for several years in many other jurisdictions including Sacramento, San Diego, Alameda and Los Angeles counties but our county has carefully tweaked it to fit locally. And it appears to have the support of the dining industry, according to DEH Consumer Protection Director Mike Balliett.

The three principal grades that will apply is the green card, which can be earned with a perfect inspection or nothing worse that one serious violation which was corrected immediately. The yellow placard denotes that two such violations have taken place. A red card, with a trio of serious flaws, will shut the restaurant down until corrections take place.

sylvannus.toronto.2005The website at sccgov.org/SCCDineOut will provide the food facility inspection results and also list the restaurants that have been shut down for food safety violations over the past six months.

The county’s 38 inspectors will begin using the placard and website system as they complete their regular inspections here in Milpitas and all the other cities. So the visual impact will be gradual although it will be sending important signals to all the other food service operations. In addition to restaurants, the new regulatory system covers markets, bakeries, liquor stores, bars, farmers’ markets, food services at fairs and festivals, ice cream and hot dog carts, food trucks, produce trucks and food vending machines.

There’s a reason I avoid Chinese buffets: Food permit suspended for multiple violations in Georgia

For the second time this year, Hong Kong King Buffet in Norcross failed a routine inspection with multiple food safety violations, so health officials suspended the food permit.

Hong Kong King Buffet in NorcrossThe Gwinnett County inspector said more managerial oversight is needed to ensure safe food operations and employees needed more training.

For example, frozen shrimp was thawing in a container of water on the floor underneath a three-compartment sink. Dishes were being washed in the sink and water was leaking into the container with the shrimp.

Also, the inspector said a pan that had been used for raw beef was tilted over washed vegetables. Juices from the pan could have dripped onto the vegetables, the inspector said.

It was the fifth consecutive time the restaurant had points taken off for improper separation of food and not protecting against cross-contamination of bacteria.