As a 25-year veteran of public health, I have experienced several iterations of the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code. Based on the FDA Model Food Code, state regulations change due to newly-discovered scientific evidence and are influenced by the input of industry, regulators and academia.
During the past 25 years, I have also seen a significant shift in the food service inspection process. What was once almost entirely focused on the cleanliness of the floors, walls and ceilings has become a thorough review of disease implications and prevention.
Following years of research and data analysis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified the five factors most commonly attributed to being the causes of foodborne illnesses.
As public health sanitarians, we now focus on the 5 CDC Risk Factors during inspections:
Obtaining food from unapproved sources
Failing to cook food thoroughly
Failing to hold food at appropriate temperatures
Using contaminated utensils and equipment
Poor personal hygiene
During my inspections, I spend a lot of time questioning the operator about three items: cleaning and sanitizing procedures, how they monitor temperatures during the flow of food from receiving through service, and employee illness policies. I also ensure that they have a body fluid clean up policy in place to protect both employee and customer safety.
I try to determine if the food operation has the appropriate policies in place with corresponding temperature logs, employee illness logs and cleaning schedules. This documentation indicates that the checks and balances they have in place will shield their food from biological, chemical and physical contamination.
Your inspecting sanitarian will help you develop a comprehensive quality assurance plan that gives your business added security while bringing you peace of mind.
Suzanne Hrusch MPH, RS
Program Manager, Food Protection Unit
Cuyahoga County Board of Health