Vietnam city prohibits street eateries in front of schools to prevent diarrhea

In 2004, Salmonella-contaminated Roma tomatoes used in prepared sandwiches sold at Sheetz convenience stores throughout Pennsylvania sickened over 400 consumers. At the time, one customer told a local media outlet she wasn’t worried about the food from Sheetz because she gets diarrhea from her own cooking all the time.

I-get-diarrhea-from-my-own-cooking-all-the-time may not be the best marketing slogan. School officials in Vietnam apparently agree.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training called on the help of district people’s committees to prohibit street eateries from operating in front of schools, apparently in the hopes of preventing acute diarrhea.

Furthermore, administrators have been ordered not to let such restaurants reopen in the future.

Schools have been instructed to work closely with district governments to drive away restaurants deemed unsafe, as well as to ensure school cafeterias serve wholesome, nourishing meals that meet state standards for hygiene.

Managing food safety at convenience stores

I didn’t know C-store was short for convenience store – the kind at street corners and attached to gas stations. But that’s what you learn when you read Dean Dirks.

Dean says:

• In your weekly newsletters or communications with employees, post articles about other retailer’s misfortunes or law suits. The point isn’t to smear other retailers but to keep the fear in the minds of your team. Don’t let associates go a day without thinking about it. (check out our weekly food safety infosheets and subscribe for the free electronic distribution)

• Require your district managers, store managers and foodservice managers to become ServeSafe certified.

• Develop food safety audits to be completed daily at the store level and have regular audits completed at the district level. Record temperatures of refrigeration and product every four hours, date and rotate products, constant hand washing to name a few. All foodservice professionals know what needs to be done and inspected. The question being, are you doing it?

• Develop a food borne illness reporting procedure. Have a form on site that collects only contact information and train your associates to never comment other than to take the information. In addition, make sure the customer is given the corporate office’s contact information.

• Make it a policy that only the food service director or vice president (senior management) follows up on the call to the customer.

• If more than three customers call with the same symptoms then you legally have a food borne outbreak. The next step is to get the County Health Department involved. The worst thing you can try to do is hide it.

And as Sheetz discovered in a 2004 outbreak of Salmonella that sickened over 400 and was linked to tomatoes in ready-to-eat sandwiches, know your suppliers.