EcoSure Food Safety Monitor
may 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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May 2017 Food Safety Monitor newsletter

Allergen awareness in food service

In April the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study regarding restaurant food allergy practices. The study summarizing food allergy awareness among restaurant staff (managers, workers and servers) at a sampling of 278 establishments indicates several areas where additional allergen management strategies could be implemented. Since a significant percentage of deaths attributed to food allergies occur in these environments, attention to the most critical areas may be warranted. The study suggests that additional focus could be directed towards some areas:

 

  • Knowledge of the symptoms of an allergen reaction and how to respond if a patron is affected
  • Knowledge of a full listing of ingredients in food items served
  • Use of separate utensils for handling allergens
  • Separate handling, prep and pick up areas for allergen containing foods

 

View the full report

 

FDA extends menu labeling compliance date to 2018

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On May 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the extension of the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018. This will allow for additional consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the interim final rule.

The FDA is inviting comments for 60 days (comment period started on May 4, 2017) on the implementation of the menu labeling requirements, such as approaches to reduce regulatory burden or increase flexibility related to (a) calorie disclosure signage for self-service foods, including buffets and grab-and-go foods; (b) methods for providing calorie disclosure information other than on the menu itself; and (c) criteria for distinguishing between menus and other information presented to the consumer.

You may submit electronic comments to www.regulations.gov. Written comments should be submitted to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0172 for “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date and Request for Comments.”

For Additional Information:

Looking for food safety management, food handling, and alcohol service regulatory requirements?

QUICK1

If you need to find Food Safety Management, Food Handling and/or Alcohol Service regulatory requirements specific to your operating jurisdiction, ServSafe offers an interactive, user friendly tool to easily locate this information.

You can search by program and state, then drill down to the county level within a state.

Check out the regulatory requirements tool and tutorial on the ServSafe website.

 

FoodNet 2016 preliminary data

The CDC recently published a report containing summary information on FoodNet surveillance data for 2016. Also included in the report are trends since 2013 for infections monitored by FoodNet.

The reported data indicates that there were more than 24,000 cases of foodborne illness in 2016. Among bacterial causes, Campylobacter and Salmonella continue to cause most foodborne illnesses in the United States. Note that norovirus incidence is NOT collected as part of FoodNet.

View the full report

Ask the Expert: Table tops as food contact surfaces

 

Question: Are dining room table tops considered food contact surfaces?

Answer: In last month’s Monitor, a question about whether table tops were considered food contact surfaces was answered. We were informed by Dr. Ruth Petran, VP of Food Safety at Ecolab that even though FDA Food Code and many state health inspectors may consider table tops to be nonfood contact surfaces, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not – they consider table tops to be food contact surfaces. 

As of now EPA requires that a food contact-approved sanitizer be used on tables. The rationale centers on the potential for chemical residue contaminants, and the fact that food contact-approved chemicals need to undergo more scrutiny to ensure that there are no dietary exposure levels that exceed safe limits. This is a good example of discrepancies that may arise between government agencies. 

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