Proper cleaning and sanitizing matters; so does correcting infractions

Restaurants I want to eat at have some common attributes: tasty food, decent value and a good food safety culture. Food safety culture isn’t about having a training program – it’s about identifying hazards, understanding how to manage them and when deficiencies are pointed out, reacting by addressing problems.

I avoid places that have trouble responding to the help that local public health regulatory folks provide. Everyone can have a bad day, but having two or three consecutive inspections and not correcting the issues is a trend that says more about what an operator values.JS51071999

According to, Woodys Take Out received a formal caution by local regulators after not heeding inspectors’ warnings to address their food safety activities.

The offences, noted during visits on October 23 and November 3, included a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection of the premises and equipment such as chopping boards, handles and taps.

Food handlers were also found to not have been suitably trained in food hygiene procedures and demonstrated a poor understanding of effective cleaning.

There was also a failure to implement required food safety management systems.

The director of the company – which has branches in Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yiewsley – accepted the cautions, admitting the offences on behalf of the company.

As part of this action, the takeaway voluntarily closed for one day to ensure that the premises were brought up to the minimum standard required by law.

Good cleaning and sanitizing takes having the right equipment, staff that know how to do it and an organizational value system that ensures it gets carried out. Dirty utensils and cutting boards in the prep area can lead to cross-contamination risks.

‘Accepting and turning blind-eye to violations must end’ Changing food safety culture in Lebanon

Ministers stressed on Saturday their support to the food safety campaign waged by Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, considering it a necessity to end the chaos in Lebanon.

hassan-bahsoun-(3)“Establishing a food safety association would end such a crisis on the long term,” Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb said during a meeting between several ministers and the Economic Committees at the Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture in Beirut’s Hamra area.

“Minister Abou Faour created a positive shock through his campaign,” Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq told reporters.

He stressed that all violators should be held accountable.

“The stance adopted by Abou Faour isn’t personal,” Mashnouq said, pointing out that the culture of accepting and turning a blind-eye to violations must end.

For his party, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon, who previously rejected the health minister’s tactics in announcing the names of institutions violating food safety measures via new conferences, said that “Abou Faour’s measures shed the light on a huge problem.”

Economy Minister Alain Hakim said that the “state has long neglected the food safety case,” warning that the scandal will have an impact on the country’s economy.

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan called on ministers not to point fingers regarding the food scandal but to assume responsibilities in order to reach integration.

Abou Faour vowed to continue the campaign, stressing that “protecting citizens doesn’t oppose the country’s economy.”

Authorities Friday shut down more slaughterhouses, restaurants, supermarkets and other retailers selling contaminated food as part of a crackdown launched last week on food establishments violating safety and sanitation standards.

Tripoli’s slaughterhouse was closed Friday by the Internal Security Forces in line with a decision taken by north Lebanon Governor Ramzi Nohra.

The decision came after he received a Health Ministry report listing changes that needed to be made for the slaughterhouse to conform to health standards.

The report said livestock must be hanged during slaughter and not laid on the ground and that the abattoir should also be equipped with refrigerators and storage units to separate meat.

Food safety issues shut Irish shop

A closure order was served on a New Ross shop due to a grave and immediate risk to the public’s health.

farmpak.irishtownFarmpak, located at 68 Irishtown, was visited by environmental health officers, accompanied by Gardaí, on the afternoon of Thursday, October 23 and the premises was closed later that day on foot of a food safety investigation.

Owned by Laurence Murphy, the premises has been operating for a number of years and the area outside the shop is a ‘hang out’ area for teenagers in recent times.

Gayle Carroll, services contract manager with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said environmental health officers were in attendance on October 23 to serve a closure order. She said the officers operate under contract to the FSAI.

Ms Carroll said the order was served due to a grave and immediate danger to the public’s health.

Commenting on recent closure orders, FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said that vigilance is always required in relation to food safety and that the legal onus is on food businesses to act responsibly and ensure that the food they serve and sell is safe to eat.

Villagers in China ordered to alert authorities if they hold outdoor banquets

Villagers holding banquets with more than 40 guests in Zhoukou, Henan province, will have to inform the authorities in advance in a bid to combat food poisoning, it has been reported.

banquet.china.inspectionSome critics have said the new policy discriminated against rural residents while others warned it would be difficult to enforce and would have little impact, according to the Dahe Daily newspaper.

Holding outdoor banquets for occasions such as weddings and funerals is customary in rural China. The size of the feasts varies from a few dozen guests to several hundred. Now the authorities will keep records of rural communal banquets and send supervisors to ensure food safety, according to the new directive posted on the Zhoukou municipal government’s website.

The directive requires organisers to report the time and location of the banquet, number of guests and identity of the chefs to officials in charge of food safety one day before the event, if more than 40 guests are expected.

India slams notices on over 80 eateries in Kolhapur

The district Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Saturday issued ‘improvement’ notices to 85 eateries in the city and nearby areas for not complying with Food Safety Management regulations. 

IMG_0015According to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules and Regulations, 2011, hotels and food stalls must comply with norms related to maintaining hygienic conditions while preparing and serving food to the customers. 

In their raids on establishments over the past week, FDA officials observed that food safety norms – like wearing gloves, using clean vessels to prepare food, clean premises and clean drinking water served to customers – were not followed at these 85 establishments. 

Blood-covered cardboard and rat droppings found at UK supermarket sentenced for food hygiene offences

Rat droppings on pallets of bottled water and cardboard covered in blood were just some of the shocking finds made at a supermarket in Slough.

The director and manager of Marwa Superstore in High Street have been fined and banned from managing food businesses after pleading guilty to a string of food safety offences.

marwaAppearing at Slough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 25 the owner of the store, Noor Al-Huda Ltd, company director, Raghad Kadham, and day-to-day manager, Mahdi Bourhan, were all fined and ordered to pay costs.

The offences included failure to keep food in a manner which protected it from contamination, failing to keep the premises clean, and failing to have procedures in place to keep the premises free from pests.

All three were also prohibited from being involved in the management of any food business with immediate effect.

Slough Borough Council food safety manager Ann Stewart said: “Marwa clearly haven’t learned their lessons because, despite repeated warnings and food safety rating of zero, a lot of the problems we found were similar to the ones that led to its closure two years ago.

‘More info better for consumers’ NC County restaurant inspection ratings to appear on Yelp pages

Restaurant inspections have long revealed the dirtier side of food locales, including the restaurants frequented by residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

In an effort to make inspection ratings more accessible, Orange County announced Sept. 16 that it would begin posting its health inspection ratings to Yelp. A restaurant’s most recent letter grade now appears in the right-hand column of its Yelp page.

seinfeld.soupnaziVictoria Hudson, an environmental health specialist for the Orange County Health Department, conducts inspections in Carrboro and parts of Chapel Hill and UNC. She said more access to information is beneficial to consumers.

“People should be able to use these scores to assign risk,” Hudson said. “The letter ‘A’ does not necessarily give you the full picture as much as the list of comments does.”

Clicking on the inspection score on Yelp reveals more information on previous inspections, including the dates and the number of health code violations found.

In May, for example, an inspection found pink and black mold in the ice machine at R&R Grill, though mold in ice machines was not an uncommon violation at restaurants in 2013 findings. The restaurant lost 1.5 points — a half deduction — and received a 98.5 total score.

Ross Moll, the owner of R&R Grill, said employees cleaned the machine after it was discovered. The machine is cleaned weekly and inspected to prevent the problem.

“I think they do a good job coming down on people who are not up to snuff on things, and they definitely work with people to get things fixed,” Moll said about the Health Department.

Tony Sustaita, owner of Bandido’s, said the inspections help reinforce safe practices.

“Obviously the policy is to be clean all the time, but people mess up once in a while,” he said. “Any issue that is brought up in an inspection is addressed immediately.”

Both Moll and Sustaitia said displaying scores in restaurants and on Yelp helps consumers make decisions.

“I think the only ones who would be concerned would be the ones with negative scores,” Sustaita said. “We’ve had pretty good 

Fish fraud and safety in EU

Deficiencies in food safety controls governing the production and sale of Irish fishery products have been highlighted in an audit by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office.

coffs.harbour.trawlerThe audit, in May, included inspections of two fishing vessels, five landing sites and 11 facilities handling fishery products, as well as meetings with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Some 296,000 tonnes of fishery products were landed in Ireland in 2012. The audit noted that, between 2012 and 2013, there were six alerts to the international rapid alert system for food and feed involving Irish fishery products. Listeria was found in smoked salmon four times and once in crab, while there was also an alert about parasites in mackerel.

The audit team found that the official control system was not applied consistently.

“The control system presents some gaps with regard to registration/approval of cold stores, inspection of vessels, temperature recording devices, drafting and implementing food safety management systems . . .” it stated.

Cold storage

The audit team found that although two cold stores used for fishery products had been approved by the Department of Agriculture, the approval did not include the storage of fishery products. Also, the approval conditions were not satisfactory because they did not require a temperature of -18 degrees.

The authorities had not inspected some premises handling fishery products as often as stipulated. This was explained by “staff constraints”.

The cold stores and processing establishments inspected were found to have broadly met the hygiene and structural requirements.

“However, one establishment could not be considered compliant with EU requirements. There were structural deficiencies … and it was in a poor state of maintenance,” the report stated.

It found shortcomings in other establishments, such as storing exposed and packaged products in the same room and a lack of temperature-recording devices in some cold stores on vessels.

The audit made six recommendations, including the regular inspection of all fishing vessels.

It said authorities should ensure all food business operators maintained procedures based on HACCP principles and that facilities comply with requirements such as the use of temperature control devices in cold stores before being approved.

I see in your NJ future, vermin in your fortune cookies

The ubiquitous fortune cookie, a staple of any Chinese takeout, could be a cesspool of dirt, disease and disgustingness.

But it’s New Jersey.

cookie-8According to Daily Finance, when inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration visited the fortune cookie manufacturing plant in Atlanta owned by the Well Luck Co., a New Jersey company that distributes Asian food nationwide, they made some horrific discoveries. During the two-week inspection this summer, which resulted in a warning letter being issued, FDA inspectors found live and dead mice, rats and “roach-like insects.”

The FDA reported that the facility was not taking basic precautions to prevent pests, and was failing to follow many food hygiene guidelines. The FDA noted in its Sept. 17 letter that the manufacturer had not responded to requests to address the alleged violations and warned, “You should take prompt actions to correct the violations cited in this letter. Failure to promptly and adequately correct these violations may result in FDA initiation of regulatory actions, including but not limited to, seizure of your products or injunction.”

“Unpackaged fortune cookies were observed sitting directly on the floor of the fortune cookie packaging room,” the FDA letter said. “Without any barrier between the warehouse and the fortune cookie packaging room, rodents in the warehouse area have direct access into the food processing areas of the facility where they may contaminate the food, food packaging materials and food processing equipment.”

In its warning letter, the FDA said it had discovered bags of flour that had been ripped open by rodents and that both rodent feces and urine were found in the food manufacturing facility. Food and food products were on floors all around the plant, the FDA said.

“The violations, which include evidence of active rodent activity, render the products held at your facility adulterated … in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health,” the letter to Well Luck CEO Chris T. Li said.
Well Luck officials did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the FDA inspection and letter.