548 restaurants get Kent Co. Michigan food safety awards

Who knew there were over 500 restaurants in the Grand Rapids, MI area? I’m not sure this qualifies as unique or special but about one third – 548 of the 1700 county – got a special award for food safety.

“It’s pretty elite company, if you will,” Kent County Health Department Supervising Sanitarian Max Bjorkman said of the award recipients. “Of the 1,700 restaurants that are eligible for the award, less than one third get it.”kent-county

For a restaurant to get the award, it had to meet criteria including no repeat violations for the year, no enforcement action taken against it and no complaints confirmed by the health department and determined to be a public health rise, among other things.

Yeah, I’m not sure how elite it is to be one of the 548 places.

Outstanding achievement in the leafy greens field of excellence

There must be awards for everything.

Whenever a university or company talks about recreating itself to be more excellent, I’m reminded of Homer Simpson winning the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.

Homer is awarded $2,000 and agrees to loan the money to his bitter half-brother, Herb Powell (no relation) who becomes rich again by making a machine to translate a baby’s babbling into actual English. Amy figures she’s already mastered the sounds of baby Sorenne and can differentiate the cries for “I need to be fed” and “I just had a huge dump.”

With that in mind, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was honored yesterday with the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement “Golden Checkmark” Award for his leadership and support of mandatory government inspection of food safety systems within the produce industry. 

Joe Pezzini, a leafy greens farmer and chairman of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board said that with the creation of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, a system is now in place which involves mandatory government inspections to ensure food safety practices are being followed by California leafy greens farmers.  Since the LGMA’s inception in April 2007 nearly 1,000 audits of California leafy greens farms have been conducted by government inspectors. 

The same government inspectors that visited Peanut Corporation of America in Georgia? Or William Tudor’s butcher shop in Wales?

I thought it was the producer’s job to provide a safe product, not the babysitter’s.


Michele Samarya-Timm Health Educator of the Year

Jersey represent.

Barfblogger and Franklin Township Health Department health officer Michele Samarya-Timm (right, not exactly as shown) has been crowned handwashing queen and Health Educator of the Year by the New Jersey Society for Public Health Education.

Patti Elliot, acting director for the Franklin Township Health Department said,

"Michele’s enthusiasm for the field of public health is surpassed by no one.”

Samarya-Timm is the only health educator to receive the professional distinction of Diplomate in the American Academy of Sanitarians and has been recognized as an emerging public health leader by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

In Franklin, Samarya-Timm established a model of the CDC’s "It’s a SNAP!" handwashing program, created a youth-based pandemic preparedness/handwashing program, and a handwashing/hygiene and illness reporting program for food handlers.

On a national level, Samarya-Timm works with the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, the CDC and other agencies on establishing timely food safety and food outbreak information to consumers.


Hooters might get food safety culture

I love living in North Carolina. The weather is awesome (it’s going to be 70 on Sunday), the BBQ is awesome and, today, we have the best Hooters kitchen crew in the U.S.

Hooters Corporate put out a press release congratulating the Concord, NC franchise on having the 2008 Kitchen Crew of the year.  The press release says that the selection criterion was based on more than their ability to shake chicken wings. The crew was also evaluated on food safety awareness, performance and productivity.

Cool, positive consequences for food safety awareness. Although awareness doesn’t always translate into practice, it’s a start. It demonstrates to the staff in the organization that food safety is something they should all value (and a prize is a nice incentive).

The prize?  Some cash, a title belt and ……. custom belt buckles.  Awesome. 

The kitchen crew was presented with $10,000 cash, (to divide among the kitchen staff by tenure) as well as custom belt buckles and a HKCY title belt which will hang in the restaurant until next year’s winner is announced. The crew will also receive a feature in Hooters Magazine. In total the Concord Hooters kitchen crew received $20,000 in cash and prizes between the annual and quarterly winnings.

"We have an amazing kitchen crew in Concord," said Skip Pray, Regional Manager for Hooters of America, Inc. "It is nice to see them share the limelight with the Hooters Girls and be recognized and rewarded for their hard work."

I’ve been to Hooters a few times. I’ve never really liked the food, but I guess that’s not the point.  While I explore the state, I’m going to make sure I stop in Concord, NC and snap a pic of the title belt (and a pic of their inspection score).