What does the health department do in food services?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 7, 2011

Today the food service industry is one of the largest industries in the United States.

As Americans, we eat in restaurants more than any other generation. This is why it is vital for health departments to inspect each facility on a regular basis to protect the consumer and others from food-borne illnesses.

Food service inspections in restaurants and groceries / convenience stores are conducted over the licensing year.

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In Ohio, the license year runs from March 1 to the last day in February.

The inspections are unannounced and are a snap shot of the conditions in the food service at the time of the inspection.

The health department is required by state law to conduct these inspections.

An investigation inspection may also be conducted if a complaint is filed about a food service or retail food establishment (grocery or convenience stores).

The environmental public health sanitarian makes certain during the inspection that the food service is in compliance with the Ohio Uniform Food Code Chapter 3717 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

The food service is not only required to be in safe and sanitary operating conditions, but also that the food employees and cooks are practicing proper food handling techniques.

Proper handling and storing of raw meats, poultry, and eggs are important to prevent cross contamination of bacteria and other pathogens. These pathogens can cause food borne illnesses.

Shift mangers are required to have a working knowledge of the uniform food code and to share that knowledge with their staff.

Written inspections are considered public information.

Anyone can request copies of the inspections for a food service.

The Tribune will be publishing future inspection summaries of the restaurants and retail food establishments.

Most food services in Ironton are earnestly trying to comply with the Ohio Uniform Food Code.

There are differences in violations and not all violations are critical ones, but relate to the actual facility.

As you read these inspection reports, remember the food service industry and the Ironton City Health Department are working together to make your dining experience a safe and enjoyable one.

Lana Cherrington, R.S., is the director of environmental health at the Ironton Health Department.