Monday, July 24, 2017

If you are reading this, congratulations! You have made it through another long winter and are primed and ready for backyard BBQ season. 

Close your eyes for a moment and think of the best times at barbecues - when family and friends gather around great food and beautiful weather.  We at Jefferson County Public Health are as excited as you for summer and want to wish you the best – and safest – one possible! Let’s take a moment to review the essentials of safe food handling:

1.)    Hygienic practices:

This topic should go without saying, but one of the most important things you can do is to ensure each step of your food preparation is done in a hygienic way. This includes limiting bare hand contact with foods ready for consumption, proper handwashing whenever contamination may have occurred and restricting the use of a common towel to wipe hands and surfaces.  

2.)    Contaminated equipment:

A commonly overlooked issue is the use of contaminated equipment for ready-to-eat foods. If a piece of equipment or a surface becomes contaminated with raw meat, do not place ready-to-eat foods on that surface until it has been properly washed and sanitized. This also includes restricting the use of a marinade that may be contaminated with raw meat as a final dipping sauce.

3.)    Proper cooking temperatures:

Don’t forget to keep a probe thermometer handy to check the final cooking temperatures of your food. The chart below represents safe cooking temperatures that will ensure your food is safe to consume. Are you curious about how to make sure your thermometer is telling the truth? Simply place your thermometer in a glass of ice water that has mostly ice and only enough water to fill the air gaps in between the ice cubes. Your thermometer should read 32°F - if it does not, it’s time to get a new thermometer.

Safe Cooking Temperatures

4.)    Proper storage and holding temperatures:

Just as important as final cooking temperatures is safe storage and holding temperatures. Be honest with yourself - do you have a thermometer in your fridge? This low-cost device could be the difference between staying safe or getting sick with a foodborne illness. Refrigerated foods held at temperatures above 41°F for extended periods of time can allow the growth of the bacteria that make you sick. If you are going to be keeping foods out for an extended time, make sure to keep cold foods below 41°F with the use of an ice bath or keep foods above 135°F with the use of a crock pot or steam table.    

5.)    Verify your food source: 

Is that great priced steak you just bought off the shady van driving around the neighborhood really safe to consume? Did that meat go through proper USDA inspection programs? Had that meat been slaughtered in a safe and sanitary way? What temperature has that meat maintained during storage and transportation? Purchasing food from reputable sources will give you piece of mind that your food has been handled properly.

Always keep these 5 safe food handling tips in mind for a great (and healthy!) summer!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Looking for Food Safety Training?  Upcoming Retail Food Requirement!

One of the major differences between the current Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations and the 2013 FDA Food Code is the requirement to have a Certified Food Protection Manager on staff.  While not required in all establishments, the majority of Retail Food Establishments will have to meet this new requirement.  According to the 2013 FDA Food Code, at least one employee that holds supervisory responsibility over food preparation practices must be a Certified Food Protection Manager who has demonstrated knowledge by passing a test as part of an accredited program.  To read about accredited food protection manager certification programs and to find a link to a directory of currently accredited programs, visit the ANSI webpage below:
If your management team does not currently have certification from an accredited program or if you have questions regarding your certifications, please reach out to your routine health inspector for more information.  There may be an extended implementation date to allow for retail food establishments to comply with this requirement once the regulation transition takes effect, but we want to update you on this new requirement as soon as possible.

Jefferson County Public Health provides basic food safety training through our “Excellence in Food Safety” class.   While it is a great class for food handlers, it does not meet the requirement of an accredited Certified Food Protection Manager program.  

News from the State!

Regulation Revision

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently began the process of revising the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations. The department has made the determination to incorporate the 2013 FDA Food Code as the new Colorado Retail Food Regulations. Adoption of the FDA code allows us:
  • To repair broken connections to Food and Drug Administration resources/guidance that are readily available in eight languages for both Local Public Health Agencies and industry, and;
  • Aligns Colorado's Retail Food program with all other state programs that use the national standard and provides greater access to comprehensive data to assess program activities and effectiveness.
This revision process includes a stakeholder process that is essential to identify regulation differences, determine training needs of industry and regulatory staff, update data systems and understand implementation logistics and needs.  Adopting the FDA Food Code allows the State to focus resources on implementation needs versus spending an extensive amount of time to modify the Colorado Regulation.

As the program moves through the stakeholder process, information and resources will be made available through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website at:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chew On This….Food Safety for Thought!

Chew On This….Food Safety for Thought!

Hello and welcome to the first edition of, “Chew On This….Food Safety for Thought!,” the Jefferson County Public Health Food Safety Blog!  We would like to start off by thanking you for taking the time to read our blog, we hope that you find our posts to be beneficial and relevant to your daily lives.  We plan to post monthly updates on food safety news, hot topics in food safety, as well as features from our audience.  Our goal is to enhance communication with food service professionals and consumers about food safety topics to develop creative approaches to reduce foodborne illness.

This month we want to introduce you to the Environmental Health team that performs inspections on all of Jefferson County’s Retail Food Establishments and the work that they do.  There are about twenty employees within Jefferson County Public Health that either work directly or indirectly with our licensed retail food establishments (over 2,100 establishments!!).  These individuals have the responsibility to effectively interpret and enforce regulations that are designed to reduce food safety hazards in Jefferson County.  The job is challenging, requiring an inspector to have in depth knowledge of food preparation processes and regulations, along with possessing interpersonal skills to build rapport with food service operators.

Check out one of our Environmental Health Specialists, Urszula Tyl, in action!

When asked what food safety means to them, some of our team had this to say:

Food safety is important to me because food is one of the few substances that goes into our body.  If not handled safely, that otherwise healthy food can make you sick.  We all have to eat, but we all don’t have to be sick.”  - Carla Opp, Workforce Development and Quality Improvement Coordinator

Food safety is a collaboration between inspectors and food operators to achieve the same goal of providing food that is safe for consumption by the public.  Our goal is the same --  that we do not want to make people ill -- and we can accomplish this task together in many different ways that makes the most sense for the individual food operation.” - Tracy Volkman, Registered Environmental Health Specialist

Our job is one where we protect people from “behind the scenes,” because safe food is one of the things people take for granted. Through food safety, we educate and protect people (and ourselves) from foodborne illnesses. Through education, we empower people to protect themselves and others.”   -Vi Nguyen, Environmental Health Specialist

I feel proud to protect the health of the public through our programs, and even though most of our work is ‘behind the scenes,’ it is still a rewarding job.” - Lisa LaCasse, Environmental Health Specialist

This job provides the opportunity to build relationships with all types of individuals in retail food establishments who have a direct impact on food safety including food borne illness. I enjoy being able to be a resource for all types of different establishments in order to protect the community when they dine at their favorite establishment.” – Atisha Morrison, Environmental Health Specialist

We are excited about this blog endeavor and being able to communicate in a new way with you.  We feel as passionate about food safety as you do, and we look forward to hearing from you and featuring your thoughts in upcoming blogs.  Stay tuned for more information and things to come!

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