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EcoSure Food Safety Monitor
July 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.

July 2017 Food Safety Monitor newsletter

Food Safety Expert David Theno Dies In Swimming Accident

David Theno, a respected food safety expert, died last month after being hit by a large wave while swimming off the island of Lana’i in Hawaii. Theno was the founder and CEO of his own food safety consulting business, Gray Dog Partners, Inc. He made a significant impact regarding food safety in the food service industry. In May of this year Theno received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Science Foundation Food Safety Summit.

Theno was well known for his role as senior vice president and chief food safety officer at Jack in the Box for 16 years.  Brought in by the company following the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, he was credited with helping set new standards for leadership and management in food production and safety.

Summer Is Here….Cold Holding Challenges

So far in 2017 cold holding is the second most frequent critical violation observed on the 100,000+ EcoSure evaluations conducted and 36,000+ Health Department inspections reported from EcoSure’s Health Department Intelligence program. With the arrival of the hot summer weather, keeping cold food properly chilled at 41˚F (5˚C) or less is even more of a challenge. 

It is a good time to review with your staff some best practices to help keep cold food properly chilled at 41˚F (5˚C) or less in all cold holding equipment:

  • Keep your HVAC system properly cleaned and maintained including filters, fans and vents. Preventive maintenance visits can help your system work more efficiently. Being able to maintain a reasonable ambient temperature in the back-of-house impacts not only staff but also refrigeration operation.
  • Keep refrigeration equipment properly cleaned and maintained. Watch for ice build up which will negatively impact compressor function.
  • Monitoring your food products begins with delivery:
    • Check the operation and cleanliness of delivery vehicles. Drivers should not be turning off refrigeration of the storage areas during deliveries.
    • Take sample temperatures of at least one frozen and two refrigerated items per delivery and also visually check that there are no signs of temperature abuse.
    • If your deliveries are toward the end of a route, be especially vigilant. In more remote locations, product may be on delivery trucks for several days.
  • Set coolers to 35-38˚F to allow some leeway to keep product below 41˚F (5˚C).
  • Have walk-in coolers and freezers organized to receive deliveries and properly rotate products. Disorganization can lead to over-loading and unnecessary clutter.
  • Use your walk-in for the majority of cold holding.
  • Thaw products in the walk-in cooler.
  • Monitor product temperatures in all cold-holding, especially product in the process of cooling and those with more exposure to ambient air and cooking areas such as cold lines, self-service buffets, open self-serve coolers and refrigerated drawers. Record cold-holding temperature and monitor any negative trends.
  • Often reach-in coolers also cool the cold prep lines above so don’t overfill the reach-in and place product in a way that won’t block airflow.
  • More closely monitor the amount of refrigerated foods being placed out for service. It is often safer to replace product more often than to over-fill pans exposed to warmer temperatures.
  • If maintaining cold product is proving to be problematic in any piece(s) of equipment, consider Time as a Public Health Control to limit time above 41˚F (5˚C) to a four hour maximum.
  • Remember–at every step of the flow of food, take and record temperatures regularly and use corrective actions to keep food safe.

FSIS Revises Directive on Lethality and Stabilization Verification

 In the U.S., the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service who regulate meat, poultry and processed eggs, recently issued a revision to their long standing Directive related to cooking and stabilization of ready-to-eat (RTE) and not ready-to-eat (NRTE) meat and poultry products. The main update is the combining of two directives into one--there used to be separate directives for lethality and stabilization.This reflects the current HACCP inspection procedures, validation policy, and verification and integrates the various public Ask FSIS Q and As and the new information in the revised Appendix A and B.

See the FSIS Directive 7111.1, Rev 1: Verification Procedures for Lethality and Stabilization

Food Code Adoption by State

We have been asked what states have adopted which Food Code.   Below is a summary from a report from the Association of Food and Drug Officials.The data contained in the report was collected by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) through internet research and personal contact with state program personnel.

Fifty (50) of the 50 States and the District of Columbia (DC) have adopted codes patterned after the 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2009, or 2013 versions of the Food Code. A breakdown by Food Code version follows:

One state has adopted the 1995 Food Code: South Dakota

One state has adopted the 1997 Food Code: Minnesota

Three states and the District of Columbia have adopted the 1999 Food Code: Arizona, Louisiana, Massachusetts.

Seven states have adopted the 2001 Food Code: Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

Eight states have adopted the 2005 Food Code: Alabama, Alaska, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

Twenty-three states have adopted the 2009 Food Code: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Seven states have adopted the 2009 Food Code: Delaware, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

For more information, see the Food Code Adoption by State document

Ask the Expert: Bacon Holding Procedures and Ice Delivery


QUESTIONCan you clarify the holding procedure for raw and cooked bacon?

ANSWERRaw bacon has a water activity of 0.92. FDA defines food having a water activity above 0.85 as a potentially hazardous food (PHF). Therefore raw bacon must be held at or below 41°F. However, according to USDA’s Microbiology Division, the water activity of crisp bacon is approximately 0.72 to 0.75. Commercially pre-cooked bacon has a water activity of 0.85.

The FDA in 1984 (FDA CSFAN, 1984) concluded that pre-cooked and other fully cooked bacon, with a water activity at or below 0.85, does not support the rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms and therefore, is not considered a potentially hazardous food per the current FDA definition. Also, a study by the company Hormel also concluded that even for severely undercooked bacon, the water activity was much less than optimal (0.89) and, if used within 17 hours after cooking, the equivalent time-temperature at 70ºF to 41ºF and 7 days (Snyder, 1998), there would be no significant risk.


QUESTION: We occasionally have days during the hot summer months where our ice maker cannot keep up with our demand.What do I look for in getting additional ice delivered?

ANSWER: As with any foods being delivered, know your vendor and check the label on the bags of ice to be sure they meet FDA requirements. The labels must list the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of the ice. The labels must also list the net quantity of contents of the product. Because ice is a single ingredient food, packaged ice does not need listing of ingredients. In addition, ice does not require a nutrition facts label, unless the package has a nutrient content claim (such as low in sodium). But ice labeled as being from a specific source, such as spring water or artesian well water, must be truthfully labeled and not misleading; in other words, it must really be from that source. The source water must meet all the requirements for such types of source water, as described in FDA regulations.

It can be shaved, cubed, nuggeted, and crushed. It can be made from tap water, from spring water, or from purified water. But no matter the shape or the source, ice is considered a food by FDA.

For more information, see the FDA webpage on the regulation of the safety of packaged ice.