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Food

Will County Health Department offer tips for safe eating

Although September being National Food Safety Education Month, it’s important to note that education about keeping food safe and preparing it safely applies to both restaurants and homes.

In both situations, focus on cleanliness and hand washing.

Beginning with the restaurant perspective, a key factor right now is the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code, scheduled for adoption at the start of 2018. At that time, the FDA’s new code will be adopted into the Illinois Food Service Sanitation Code. And that means Will County Health Department food inspectors will have their eyes on even more requirements than in the past.

One of those additional requirements will be the Person in Charge rule. Under the updated code, the initial Person in Charge will be a food establishment’s original permit holder, or will be designated by the permit holder when he or she is not present.

The Person in Charge will need to demonstrate a knowledge of food borne disease prevention, the application of food safety principals, and the FDA Food Code’s new requirements. Not having designated a Person in Charge that fulfills these requirements will result in a violation.

In addition, all of the common sense requirements food inspectors have watched for years will still be top priority. This includes everything from proper food temperatures at delivery, storage, preparation, and display; proper sanitation of utensils and equipment; and proper handwashing and sanitation for employees.

Meanwhile, back in our own homes, Will County Environmental Health Director Tom Casey said parents can teach basic hygiene principals when kids help out in the kitchen at home.

“Chores can be things like setting the table; carrying glasses, plates, and utensils the right way; and unloading the dishwasher," Casey said in a news release. "But in all cases, none of them should be done without property washing your hands with warm water, soap, and a paper towel. And then washing them again after any unsanitary task like taking out garbage, petting the dog, using the restroom, or handling raw meat products.”

Casey said food safety begins with clean hands as well as clean surfaces. Many kitchen counters are often used for mail, newspapers, magazines, or anything else that just “needs somewhere to go.”

“Countertops are a ‘catch all’ in most homes,” Casey said in the release. “Children should be taught that you should not begin preparing any foods until the countertops, pots and pans, utensils, and cutting boards are properly cleaned and sanitized for the purpose of food preparation.”

For more on National Food Safety Education Month, visit https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/09/15/september-national-food-safety-education-month.

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