EcoSure Food Safety Monitor
august 2017

The EcoSure Food Safety Monitor is a free monthly newsletter written by EcoSure Food Safety & Public Health experts. EcoSure is a division of Ecolab.
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August 2017 Food Safety Monitor newsletter

U.S. CDC Foodborne Illness Report

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report summarizing reported foodborne illnesses in which the first illness onset occurred in 2015 and were reported by October 20, 2016.


Some of the key findings in the report are:

  • In 2015, there were 902 foodborne disease outbreaks reported, resulting in 15,202 illnesses, 950 hospitalizations, 15 deaths, and 20 food product recalls.

  • Norovirus was the most common cause of confirmed, single-etiology outbreaks, accounting for 164 (37%) outbreaks and 3,893 (39%) illnesses. Salmonella was the next most common cause, accounting for 149 (34%) outbreaks and 3,944 (39%) illnesses, followed by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, which caused 27 (6%) confirmed single-etiology outbreaks and 302 (3%) illnesses.
     
  • Fish (34 outbreaks), chicken (22), and pork (19) were the most common single food categories implicated. The most outbreak-associated illnesses were from seeded vegetables e.g., cucumbers or tomatoes (1,121 illnesses), pork (924), and vegetable row crops e.g., leafy vegetables (383).
     
  • As reported in previous years, 469 outbreaks associated with restaurants accounted for 60% of outbreaks reporting a single location of preparation. Specifically restaurants with sit-down dining (48%) were the most commonly reported locations of food preparation associated with outbreaks.

    View the current Annual Summaries of Foodborne Outbreaks report or view reports from previous years. 


September is National Food Safety Month

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National Food Safety Month (NFSM) was created in 1994 to heighten the awareness of food safety education. Each year, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) features a new theme and offers free resources for the restaurant and foodservice industry professionals to help reinforce proper food safety practices and procedures.

This year's theme focuses on The Culture of Food Safety. As a focal point within the restaurant industry, food safety is now synonymous with an operation's reputation. Free materials and resources are offered on www.FoodSafetyMonth.com. The website provides videos and downloadable weekly activities, posters and infographics to help keep your staff informed and engaged. The theme for each week is:

  • Week 1: What is Food Safety

  • Week 2: Handwashing

  • Week 3: The Role of Food Safety Training

  • Week 4: Time and Temperature Control

These are excellent topics to include in September or in an educational rotation of topics during the year. For chain restaurants, these topics can be reviewed for consistency with Brand Standards and education materials.


Bacteria and Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake

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Singing Happy Birthday as the person celebrating their birthday blows out the candles certainly is a highlight of most birthday celebrations. Clemson University recently conducted a study that examined the potential spread of bacteria from people blowing out candles on birthday cakes that may have you think twice about continuing this age-old tradition.Blowing out candles on a cake increases bacteria on a cake icing by an incredible 1400% according to the research.

The study was led by Paul Dawson, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Dawson has taken part in unique research focused on food safety and the bacteria transfer in common actions such as drinking out of the milk carton, “double dipping”, and the 5-second rule.

This certainly does not mean that anyone who eats the cake is likely to get ill; however, if the person celebrating the birthday is sick you may want to consider alternatives.Two options are to put the candles on an individual piece of cake instead of the whole cake or to actually skip the actual “blowing out the candles” tradition.

Foodservice operators that have celebrations at their venues and provide the cake/dessert that everyone will share may want to consider adjusting the protocol of putting candles on the whole cake/dessert and rather provide an individual portion to the guest of honor with a candle on it.


Food Code Adoption by State Update

One update to last month’s information. The following seven states have adopted the 2013 Food Code: Delaware, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas.

Check out more information on Food Code Adoption by State


Ecolab Food Safety Matters Quarterly Webinars  

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Are you taking advantage of this free educational opportunity? 
Free Continuing Education hours! 

Food Safety Matters webinars are free quarterly web presentations featuring food industry, academic, regulatory and culinary experts presenting topics surrounding the diverse  aspects of food safety. You may view archived webinars and receive continuing education certificates for live or delayed viewing. 

Register for the next Food Safety Matters Webinar: 

WHEN: November 14th at 11 a.m. EST

Sign up to receive webinar invitations.                                      

Ask the Expert: Sanitizer Temperature and Proper Labeling

 QUESTIONWe keep sanitizer buckets close to the coffee stations with a towel inside for wiping down surfaces. Does the sanitizer solution need to be kept at a certain temperature? Or is it just that the sanitizer concentration needs to stay at a certain level?

ANSWERFirst check the instructions on the sanitizer that is in use for preparation, storage and testing. The most common sanitizers are chlorine-based and quaternary ammonium (“Quat”).

Chlorine sanitizers are typically prepared with tepid warm.If it is kept warm, it will lose its effectiveness as the chlorine dissipates at warm temperatures.Chlorine sanitizer should be tested regularly (every two to three hours) with appropriate test strips.If the solution holds a lot of debris and/or is in a hot environment, it should be tested more frequently, even at hourly intervals.

For Quat sanitizers, there is no limit to how hot a sanitizer bucket can be to be effective. There is, however, a temperature limit for the efficacy of the test strips. Quat sanitizer can only appropriately be tested at room temperature (about 65-75°F according to the test strip manufacturers). If the temperature is too high, the sanitizer may be within appropriate concentration, but the test strips can give a false high reading.

QUESTIONDo the items we plan to discard the same day we prepare them have to have an expiration date? Does unsliced produce need an expiration date?

ANSWERAny TCS foods that will be used or discarded within 24 hours of preparation do not require a label per Food Code.Unsliced produce does not require a label. Labels are only required for TCS prepped foods held greater than 24 hours or a label added to commercially prepped TCS foods when the original packaging has been opened.For example, if a tub of cottage cheese has an expiration date in August, but it is opened July 1st there should be an expiration label added to the container, whether as a sticker or handwritten, stating the new expiration date. As always, check with your corporate standards for preferred methods of monitoring expiration dates.

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