Poop and food don’t mix- KFC edition

Always a bad idea to prepare and serve food when there is a sewage back-up and no surprise it was caught on video.
Public health takes a back seat to monetary gains I guess. I’ve seen this before when I was in the field. When I was in the field as an inspector, the City informed me that there was a sewage break in the south end. I went to visit the affected food establishments to ensure they were closed and following proper protocols. Three restaurants were involved, 2 shut down but 1 continued to operate in sewage. I shut down the third and when I asked why they continued to operate, the manager played the ignorance card. Meanwhile, his staff were sloshing around in sewage back of house, no excuse for that.

Vanessa Vasconcelos of ABC 30 reports

Cell phone video shows the conditions Kentucky Fried Chicken employees say they were forced to work in last Tuesday. The fast-food restaurant at Kings Canyon and Willow took on several inches of dirty water in the kitchen area.
According to the Fresno County Health Department, it all started with a sewer line blockage. “They brought in a hydro-flush unit that uses high-pressure water to (clean) it and that caused the backed up water in the building as they were trying to get it unclogged,” said Health Department division manager Wayne Fox.
The worker who captured the images didn’t want to be identified, but says their daily operations continued; including serving customers. By Wednesday, health inspectors received a complaint and investigated.
Fox says, “staff was working to clean the place up. Our environmental health staff determined the place needed to be closed while they were doing that cleaning.” He added the site manager should have been trained enough to understand the severity of the violation.
They held an office hearing with senior management then conducted a re-inspection that determined they could resume business, “We wouldn’t take any chances. We take this very seriously we want all the food that anyone gets at a restaurant to be pure and wholesome.
Site supervisors at KFC and JEM restaurant management corporation — which manages the KFC — declined our requests for comment.
Health Department officials say this is only the third complaint in the last decade this particular KFC has received and the previous ones weren’t as severe. They include food temperature violations, pests and improper handling of food.
The KFC at Kings Canyon and Willow is back up and running, but management and all employees will be undergoing mandatory training and will develop an emergency plan so employees know what to do should this ever happen again.
If this does become a recurring problem, the restaurant will have its health permit revoked.

It may involve lettuce: unreported food poisoning cases reflect gap in food safety net

At what point do food service staff also have to play epidemiologist?

Scott James of The Bay Citizen writes that San Francisco’s Italian eatery Delfina has been considered one of the Bay Area’s best restaurants for more than a decade; Craig Stoll, its co-owner and chef, won a coveted James Beard award in 2008.

But in December, its many accolades could not protect Delfina from an unusual incident. On a night the restaurant was booked solely for a private party, about two dozen patrons were sickened by food poisoning.

The staff determined what each victim ate, and since a vegetarian was among those sickened, oysters, beef tartar and other foods were eliminated as the sources of illness.

“We narrowed things down to the most common denominator,” Stoll said. Their conclusion: Tainted produce, most likely salad greens.

The restaurant contacted its suppliers, but no alert went out to the public, and there was no government investigation. The San Francisco Department of Public Health had not heard of the incident until contacted by The Bay Citizen.

In what appears to be a gap in the food supply safety net, there is no requirement for restaurants to report when their diners are affected by foodborne illnesses even when large numbers of people get sick.

“They are not obligated to report it,” said Richard Lee, director of environmental health regulatory programs for the city.

Mandatory reporting is not required at the state level either, according to the California Department of Public Health. Under both state and local laws, reporting is required only when restaurant workers become sick.

Rajiv Bhatia, the city’s director of environmental health, said the Delfina incident was now under investigation, but added that it was highly unusual for health officials to be unaware of a case involving so many diners.

He suggested a need for stricter rules. “I believe that reporting of potential outbreaks should be mandatory for supermarkets, restaurants, schools and workplace cafeterias, even though this is not a requirement under current law,” he said.

At Delfina, which consistently achieves high scores on health inspections, Stoll said there had not been an illness before or since that night, but he wants the mystery solved.

Careful with that cat: electric fence keeps Matilda the Algonquin Hotel cat from food areas

The lobby of New York City’s famed Algonquin Hotel has been surrounded with an invisible electric fence in hopes it will keep the health department happy.

The New York Times reports an electric fence was installed in late summer after someone called 311 and the health department threatened the hotel with action: keep Matilda the cat away from food service and dining areas.

Matilda is the latest in a long line of Algonquin cats going back to the 1930s. The first, a stray who wandered in off West 44th Street with as much elan as a famous guest, was known as Rusty or Hamlet. Since then, each cat has been succeeded by another with the same name, Hamlet for the males, Matilda for the females.

A spokeswoman for the health department, Susan Craig, said that the letter about Matilda was “automatically generated” and that the department “did not find evidence substantiating that complaint.”

She said that during a recent inspection, the hotel had explained the ins and outs of the electric fence “perimeter outside of the food service area to contain the cat.”

“Our food safety inspector acknowledged this,” Ms. Craig wrote in an e-mail, “and concurred that cats should be kept out of dining, kitchen or other food-preparation areas.” For all her mentions in newspaper articles, Matilda has never been mentioned in the Algonquin’s restaurant inspection reports from the health department.