EcoSure Food Safety Monitor November 2016

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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Food Safety Monitor Newsletter

November 2016 Food Safety Monitor newsletter

Food Code Update: Michigan allergen awareness training requirement goes into effect in January

The State of Michigan is requiring allergen training for all Certified Food Managers (see exemptions below) to be completed by January 17, 2017. Food safety certified managers at food service establishments (e.g., restaurant, school or hospital inspected by a Michigan local health department) shall do both of the following:

  • Complete allergen training - By January 14, 2017 each food service establishment shall have at least one certified manager who has also completed additional allergen training approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). An allergen training program certificate of completion is recognized to be valid for five years from date of issuance.

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Food Code Update: Illinois

On July 29, 2016, the Illinois Department of Public Health incorporated an updated state code based on the FDA 2013 Model Food Code.

This updated version of the Food Code increases the Form 3A to 57 items. Of the 57 items, the top 29 of them are defined as Foodborne Illness (FBI) Risk Factor and Public Health Intervention items and the remaining 28 items are defined as Good Retail Practice items. The top 29 items will be used as a checklist during routine inspections. Each FBI Risk Factor must be reviewed during every routine inspection. The terms "critical" and "non-critical" will no longer be used to reference violation.

The scoring matrix changed, and a numerical score will no longer be used.

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FDA/FSIS Consumer Food Safety Survey

With holiday season upon us, it is a good time to remind your workers about good food safety practices as the holiday rush commences.

A survey from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has measured the public’s understanding of proper food safety handling techniques. The "public" is of course the source of our workforce.

For nearly three decades the FDA and FSIS have conducted annual Food Safety Surveys to gauge and track the public’s understanding in this important area. While the survey questions are designed to measure trends in consumer food safety practices and not necessarily restaurant workers, it is important to understand how the source of our worker population thinks. The survey included areas such as hand and cutting board washing; preparing and consuming potentially risky foods; and using food thermometers. In addition to informing the FDA’s food safety education efforts, the results are used by the Healthy People 2020 initiative to track consumer food safety knowledge and actions. Key findings include.

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Flu Season: A reminder

While flu (human influenza) may not be a food safety issue, like norovirus, it can be transmitted around home, the community and the workplace. So a reminder to get your flu shot!

  • The flu is a respiratory infection accompanied with fever and often respiratory complications
  • It is transmitted from human to human
  • Most people have some immunity
  • Severe cases are more frequent in the older population, young children, and people with certain health conditions
  • A flu vaccine cocktail is custom-assembled each year for the expected "flu" strains
  • Each year approximately 36,000 die from the common flu in the U.S.
  • Infected persons can give the flu to others:
    • One day prior to showing symptoms
    • Up to seven days after symptoms first appear
    • Most infectious during first three days of illness
  • How the flu is passed from person to person

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Ask the Expert: Allergens and Warewashing Machines

Question: I have a customer who is concerned about allergen cross-contact in the dish machine warewashing process. Can you provide any insights as to why this should or should not be a concern? What procedures assist in preventing this from happening?

Answer: I consulted Principal Chemical Engineer Nicole Delaney of Ecolab’s Institutional Corporate Technical service. Ecolab recommends that in recirculating machines, tank wash water be changed every two hours or when the water becomes visibly soiled. If there is gross soil in the machine and the water is not changed out very frequently, there may be a chance for redepositing food particles and hence potential allergens. Please keep in mind that allergen control is all about cleanliness. Allergens are not microorganisms, and thus cannot be killed using sanitizers or disinfectants. Allergens are protein soils, which means that thorough cleaning is the only way to remove them. This means we must place importance on a number of procedures during the dishwashing process, including proper pre-scrapping techniques as well as proper racking in the dish-machine. Performing these recommendations will help to minimize any cross contamination of allergens between guests.

Ask the Expert: Bleach as a Virocide

Question: I understand that chlorine bleach can be used as a disinfectant for norovirus. Is this OK to use?

Answer: Bleach is never Ecolab’s recommendation as a chemical program component for a multitude of food safety, employee safety and restaurant equipment damage issues. It is caustic and corrosive to every surface to which it is applied and considered unstable as a viable chemical when mixed with anything but water.  While it is true that chlorine bleach can be diluted (properly) as a disinfectant, I don’t recommend its use in restaurants. Many of the national chains we work with ban bleach in their units due to its hazards.

First, if bleach is either inadvertently or intentionally mixed with quaternary ammonium products, a noxious, potentially lethal gas is created. When I say "intentionally" mixed, sometimes staff members who use bleach at home think of it as "great for everything" and they may not know the hazards of mixing it with other products. Since they use it regularly at home, they may also choose to use it for other inappropriate purposes in the kitchen as well. Bleach mixed with any acidic chemical is hazardous.  

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