Missouri county imposes mandatory hepatitis A vaccines for food service workers

While the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending the hepatitis A vaccine for all food service workers, a Missouri county has imposed mandatory Hepatitis A vaccinations for food handlers.

Tommy Tobin of Forbes reports Franklin County, Missouri, joins a handful of jurisdictions across the country with mandatory Hepatitis A vaccine programs aimed at preventing further cases. This development is part of a larger trend aimed at expanding vaccinations for Hepatitis A and addressing future outbreaks of the disease.

The CDC is investigating outbreaks of Hepatitis A across 29 states. According to the CDC, 233 individuals have died from Hepatitis A between 2016 and 2019 out of over 24,000 reported cases. Several states, including Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, and West Virginia, have seen thousands of cases.

In an effort to curb the increase in reported cases of Hepatitis A, many local jurisdictions are considering mandatory Hepatitis A vaccines for food service workers. For example, Missouri has reported 387 cases of Hepatitis A in the past two years. Over 50 of these cases are from Franklin County, which has a population of about 100,000 residents. Franklin County officials have imposed mandatory vaccinations for individuals who handle food. Food establishments, including restaurants, have 90 days to ensure their employees are vaccinated.  Nearby St. Louis County, Missouri enacted a mandatory vaccine requirement nearly 20 years ago. Similar ordinances requiring vaccines for food service workers were enacted in Kentucky’s Ashland and Boyd Counties last year.

With the numerous cases across the country of Hepatitis A, the National Restaurant Association recently issued guidance to its member restaurants in an effort to reduce future cases.  In this guidance, the Association recommended that restaurant managers and operators encourage employees to get vaccinated, educate restaurant staff about the virus, and monitor for any signs of the disease. (Note: The National Restaurant Association did not respond to requests for comment on this story). Separately, a CDC advisory panel recently recommended expanding the use of the Hepatitis A vaccine to all youth aged 2 to 18. 

Restaurant inspection grades easier to spot in Northern Ireland

Starting from, Friday 7 October, people in Northern Ireland will find it easier to see the food hygiene rating of places they eat out or buy food, as food businesses will now have to display their rating sticker by law.

fhrs-niThe Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 and associated regulations have come into force, and this new legislation means that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is now mandatory, replacing the voluntary scheme run since the end of 2011 by district councils and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

No matter what the rating of the food business, they will have to by law display the rating sticker given by the district council following inspection. This can range from ‘5’ which means the food hygiene standards are very good, down to ‘0’ where urgent improvement is necessary. This instant and visible hygiene rating information will help people choose where to eat out or shop for food, including restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways as well as supermarkets, other food shops and hospitals, care homes and schools.

The FSA has built a case for mandation in England using evidence from Wales where display is mandatory and where there has been an increased positive impact on hygiene standards compared with England. It is also exploring how a viable statutory scheme could be delivered in the future in line with the FSA’s Regulating our Future programme. In the meantime the current voluntary scheme in England is being aligned with the statutory schemes in Wales and N Ireland as far as possible without legislative requirements. 

Philadelphia: Post inspections in restaurant windows

Following up on UK calls for mandatory posting of inspection grades in restaurants, letter writer Joseph Mcaffrey tells Philly.com he recently walked by a barf.o.meter.dec.12restaurant near Philadelphia City Hall that had 19 illness-risk and retail violations, yet it was doing a booming lunch business.

Food poisoning is horrendous to recover from, and I urge the Inquirer to continue publishing restaurant inspection reports. But City Council must do more to protect the public. Council and Mayor Kenney should mandate the placement of the most recent food-inspection reports in all restaurants’ front windows.

With the coming Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia cannot risk the bad press involved in food poisoning and other adverse health events.

Scores on Doors should be mandatory in Queensland: picture proof

Sunday morning in Brisbane, Australia, where the birds start their symphony about 4 a.m., fully light by 4:30 a.m., getting ready to listen to some Kansas State football, and photographs in the Sunday Mail of food service cold rooms, many of them “too gross to publish.”

The Sunshine Coast-based company Jaymak has provided pictures of the unappetizing conditions found inside the cold rooms of some of the state’s restaurants and eateries, in support of calls for a mandatory "scores on doors" scheme.

Some cities like Brisbane have voluntary schemes, which is sorta dumb.

One of the worst cases involved a decomposing bird stuck in a cool room compartment at a fast food chain.

Photographs from other cool rooms reveal the build-up of mold and slime.

Jaymak owner Arie de Jong said the "ugliest" conditions were found within hard-to-reach air compartments, but the conditions could quickly spread mold and bacteria to food storage areas.

For a review of the purpose of restaurant inspection disclosure schemes and our experiment in New Zealand, see:



Coaching hockey requires mandatory training, so should food preparation

Ottawa Public Health is debating whether to force all food handlers in the city to take a mandatory food safety course.

Parenting and preparing food are about the only two activities that do not require some kind of certification in Western countries. For example, to coach little girls playing ice hockey in Canada requires 16 hours of training. To coach kids on a travel team requires an additional 24 hours of training.

Anyone who serves, prepares or handles food, in a restaurant, nursing home, day care center, supermarket or local market needs some basic food safety training.

Sherry Beadle, Ottawa health department’s program manager of food safety, said, "The difference with this certification program is it allows a greater in-depth look at food handling practices. Training is always a good thing."

Not if the training is mind-numbingly dull, trying to transform line cooks or servers into microbiology or HACCP experts. That’s why training needs goals and continual evaluation.

There could be mandatory food handler training, for say, three hours, that could happen in school, on the job, whatever. But training is only a beginning. Just because someone is told to wash the poop off their hands before they prepare salad for 100 people doesn’t mean it is going to happen; weekly outbreaks of hepatitis A confirm this. There are a number of additional carrots and sticks that can be used to create a culture that values microbiologically safe food and a work environment that rewards hygienic behavior. But mandating basic training is a start.

Eight of Ontario’s 36 health units currently require mandatory certification.

The course should be mandatory, and then should be evaluated and improved so that food service employees actually use what they allegedly learn, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of foodborne illnesses.

And the best establishments won’t wait for government. Ottawa restaurant owner Daoud Ahmadi, who has been in the food industry for 13 years, told CBC News it should be a mandatory course for anyone who handles food and that he expects all his new employees to take the course even though it is currently voluntary.

"It is really important for people that are working on the food," Ahmadi said.

Toronto takes on feds, province, issues own food safety agenda

I hear from local public health officials all the time, and the ones in Canada repeatedly say the single food inspection agency — known creatively as, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – sucks.

The provincial regulators also suck.

So after years of taking it, the City of Toronto is once again trailblazing when it comes to serving the public – those who end up barfing from bad food – and has come up with its own idea of a food safety system that serves people.

Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports this morning that in a series of three reports to be presented to Toronto city council on Monday (available at http://www.toronto.ca/health/moh/foodsecurity.htm), foodborne illness in Toronto is rampant and that in order to have fewer people barfing:

• Ontario should consider compensating food handlers who  are too sick to come to work due to "gastrointestinal illness;"
•  Ontario and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should provide "full and timely disclosure of the food safety performance of all food premises
they inspect;” and,
• mandatory food handler training and certification, as recommended in the Justice Haines report of 2004 (that was my contribution).

A related story maintains that cases of foodborne illness began to fall almost immediately after Toronto began making restaurant inspection results public in 2001.

John Filion, chair of the city’s board of health, said it is the clearest evidence yet of the public health benefits of transparency.

Good for Toronto, especially when the feds and the province leave the locals out to dry on outbreaks of foodborne illness. In the Aug. 2008 outbreak of listeria linked to Maple Leaf deli meats, Toronto health types said they had plenty of evidence something was amiss in July, but CFIA and others refused to go public until Aug. 17, 2008. So with a federal listeria inquiry set to begin Monday, and Maple Leaf all focused on federal regulations, how are Maple Leaf executives going to handle pesky local health units like Toronto – the ones who actually do the work, uncover outbreaks and create their own headlines.