Repeat violations is a pretty good indicator of a food safety culture issue

My kids are terrible at remembering things. Everyday one of them forgets at least one of the following: homework; water bottle; to change his socks; to flush; brush their teeth.

There are many more.

As a parent it’s my job to keep reminding them – and it gets frustrating when the same things are done over and over.

But they are 8 and 10. And not running a food business. Their repeated mistakes don’t leave to foodborne illness risks for thousands of customers.

I read the FDA warning letters with fascination every time an email alert comes out. Today’s  highlight for me was that a food business, Reuben’s, cant seem to get stuff straight after repeated reminders from FDA inspectors. In 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016 and again last fall they had issues with facilities, pests and behaviors.

The investigators found the same stuff. That’s frustrating – and kinda shows that the business leadership doesn’t get it, or care.

When someone asks me about inspection results at a restaurant or a processor I tell them the limitations of the snapshot, what really matters is how has the business dealt with issues over time. Repeated issues without fixing shows a negative food safety culture in my books.

Here are some other highlights:

Several tiles were missing on the production floor. Water was pooling on the floor where tiles were missing/broken.

Chiles fell onto the dirty floor and were picked up by and placed into the rinse/cooling tank with other roasted chiles

Uncovered chile relleno products were observed in the walk-in freezer. The ceiling directly above the uncovered products displayed an accumulation of condensation drops and peeling paint.

We observed an employee push an uncovered rack of green chile from the walk-in refrigerator into the production area. The sides and top layer of green chile came in direct contact with an curtain which appeared to be soiled with red chile debris and grime.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.