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EcoSure Food Safety Monitor January/February 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.
Food Safety Monitor Newsletter

Ask the Expert: Those Red and Green Buckets

Question: What is the appropriate use of the green and red buckets I often see for wiping down surfaces?

Answer: First, there is nothing "required" about the color of the buckets you see being used for surface cleaning. However, green buckets are associated with soap solutions and red buckets are associated with sanitizer solutions. Label the buckets accordingly. One watch out is when surfaces are continually wiped down with the towels from the sanitizer bucket. Since sanitizers are to be used on clean surfaces, using the sanitizer towel on a dirty surface may not sanitize at all. The correct procedure should mirror washing at the three-part sink:

  1. If a surface has food or obvious debris, use a paper towel to first remove these.
  2. Use a clean towel with the soap solution in a marked container (often green) to wash the surface.
  3. Take a small container with clean water and clean towel to rinse.
  4. Wipe the surface with a towel that has been kept submerged in the sanitizer. The sanitizer should be checked periodically to be sure it is at the correct concentration.
  5. Allow to air dry. These steps would not need to be done for every wipe-up but at least every four hours to break the cycle of pathogen growth.

January/February 2017 Food Safety Monitor newsletter

Note regarding Miriam

Miriam Eisenberg retired from Ecolab in January. The EcoSure Food Safety Monitor will continue to be published each month.

Powdered disposable glove issues

I was asked how the new ban on powdered surgeon’s and patient examination gloves applies to food service.

The rule is named: Banned Devices; Powdered Surgeon's Gloves, Powdered Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon's Glove.

On December 19, 2016, the FDA published a final rule banning powdered gloves based on risk of illness or injury to individuals exposed to the powdered gloves. It was determined that there are risks to both patients and health care providers when internal body tissue is exposed to the powder including severe airway inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions. Powder particles may also trigger the body's immune response, causing tissue to form around the particles (granulomas) or scar tissue formation (adhesions) which can lead to surgical complications. The ban goes into effect on January 18, 2018.

In terms of food service, the FDA Final Rule states that FDA concluded it is not appropriate to address a proposal to ban gloves use for food preparation because these gloves do not meet the definition of "a medical device" under the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. That being said, we are waiting to get more clarification from the FDA. Additionally, local regulatory agencies may put a restriction on powdered gloves into effect for food service, so check with your local health departments.

For a detailed description of the risks that the FDA identified, please refer to the final rule

Food emergency response job aids

Food security is a topic of conversation. Whether that refers to prevention of tampering with the food supply at any point in the food chain from farm to fork or discussion surrounding the handling of foodborne illness outbreak, it is important to understand guidelines for food service as well as the vendors and health departments you work with.

The Partnership for Food Protection (PFP) Governing Council recently announced the release of a new PFP resource document entitled Quick Start: Food Emergency Response Job Aids. The purpose of the Quick Start Job Aids is to facilitate communication, coordination and planning among programs and agencies early on in an investigation when an adverse food event such as an outbreak or food contamination is initially suspected or detected. The Quick Start job aid includes three flow diagrams that highlight key general, epidemiological, and environmental tasks for consideration in the early stages of notification to promote an integrated response approach.

The Quick Start guides are designed for: (1) Food/feed incident emergency response coordinators including epidemiologists, laboratory and food regulatory program officials in federal, state, local, and territorial government agencies; and (2) industry food protection task forces, and other stakeholders to assist them in preparing their own complimentary response protocols.

Review of cleaning and sanitation practices

Inadequate cleaning and sanitizing is one of the most common violations for both health departments and EcoSure food safety evaluations. A New Year’s resolution for your food service facility should include reviewing some basic tips to ensure clean and sanitary food contact surfaces. Cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces is one of the most important steps to prevent food-borne illness.

The National Restaurant Association recently published a few reminders to include in your training review:

  • Reinforce the need for vigilant cleaning and sanitizing practices. Explain, demonstrate, watch and coach new learned behaviors. Explain that pathogens can spread to food from equipment that hasn't been properly cleaned and sanitized between uses. Cleaning/washing removes food and other dirt from surfaces. Following a rinse, sanitizing reduces surface pathogens to safe levels.
  • Review your cleaning and sanitizing products. Work with your chemical providers (such as Ecolab). Cleaners must be stable, noncorrosive and safe to use. Be sure to follow manufacturers’ instructions. After washing and rinsing, utensils and equipment can be sanitized using heat or chemicals. Chemicals are almost always used at the three compartment sink. Using hot water at the sanitizing sink requires soaking items in water at least 171˚F (77˚C) for at least 30 seconds. This can be a burn hazard. Of course, you can also run the items through a high-temperature dishwasher. If you use chemical sanitizers, rinse, swab or spray items with a sanitizing solution. The most common types of chemical sanitizers are chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonium compounds (or quats). Again, follow manufacturers’ instructions, as well as local regulatory requirements.
  • Train staff when to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. Clean and sanitize items after each use and before food handlers start working with a different type of food. Also, clean and sanitize utensils and equipment after food handlers are interrupted during a task and the items may have been contaminated. If items are in constant use, clean and sanitize every four hours.