Note from Miriam
I hope you are all having a Happy Holiday Season and I wish you all a healthy, happy prosperous 2017. I wanted to let you all know that I am retiring January 12 so this will be my last newsletter. EcoSure will be continuing with the Monitor so watch for future editions. It has been a pleasure to share food safety news and in some cases, food safety ideas and opinions, over the last six years of my 25 years with Ecolab. My final items to share with you focus on reminders of keeping up with knowledge and best practices to protect your reputation by keeping up with the industry.
Keeping ready when the health department is not showing up
Being a resident in the Chicago area, I took notice of the headlines earlier in December about the fact that Chicago restaurants are not being inspected as frequently as required by state law. This was among the findings of a report from the Illinois Inspector General (IG). More than half of Chicago’s restaurants are being inspected less than twice a year, the minimum required by state law.
It means the city may no longer be eligible for $2.5 million in state grants, the audit finds. And meeting the state requirement of twice-a-year inspections for Chicago establishments would require hiring 56 new food safety inspectors. Chicago Mayor Emanuel said the state does not give the city enough money to meet the requirements.
New interpretations now available in the Food Code Reference System (FCRS)
Interpretation of Food Code content can be confusing and in some cases is not consistent across the country. The Food Code Reference System is a searchable database that provides access to FDA’s interpretative positions and responses to questions related to the FDA Food Code. The System is a resource for stakeholders from federal agencies, state, local, territorial and tribal jurisdictions, consumers, academia, and industry interested in preventing foodborne illness and injury in retail food, vending and foodservice operations. The content is updated periodically and can be a useful tool. Visit the Food Code Reference System to learn more.
The menu labeling law was part of the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010. This law requires restaurants and foodservice businesses with 20 or more locations nationally operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items to post calorie information for standard menu items and provide guests with additional nutrition information upon request.
The dates of compliance and enforcement of the regulation has been fraught with difficulties and delays. It was expected to begin Dec. 1, 2015, but was delayed twice. In December 2015, Congress directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to push the law’s enforcement date until one year after the agency published final guidance. That final guidance was published May 5, 2016. There was confusion because at some point, the "compliance" date was December 1, 2016 with the enforcement date of May 5, 2017. I received questions from around the country about when the process of menu nutrition labeling had to be ready. This was interpreted that chains had to be ready with the nutrition information on their labels or other posted requirements but violations would not be leveed until May 2017.
In early December, the Food and Drug Administration published a clarification of the final rule extending the compliance date for the federal government’s menu labeling regulation to May 5, 2017.
I am often posed questions about "use by," "best by," and "sell by" labels. Although infant formula is the only food product that must carry product dating under current federal law, many food companies include some "expiration" information on packaging of other products.
However, a lack of uniformity in the date coding on food leaves many wondering how long food can safely be stored, according to a news release from USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). New labeling guidance from the USDA that is designed to decrease waste by resolving consumer confusion about "best by" and "sell by" dates on food may also boost food safety practices by providing more specific information.
Question: What are the limits for fly glue strips for pest control? Should any fly glue strips be contained in a trap of some type to avoid the dead insects falling off? What about fly paper strips?
Answer: First there are glue boards enclosed in flying insect light traps where the glue boards are not in the open. These glue boards are changed out on a regular basis and are part of a pest control service. As usual, health departments will vary on what types of open fly papers can be utilized back of house. Where allowed, any fly paper strips, ribbons, gold sticks or similar open glue boards must be placed so that they do not draw flies directly over food-handling surfaces. In addition, these can be a nuisance if restaurant staff come into contact with them and these are not long-lasting in particularly dusty environments. In checking with Ecolab Pest Control, the general rule for the enclosed Stealth Fly Light is that it should not be placed any closer than 10 feet from a food handling area such as a food prep table, salad bar, etc.