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Food Safety

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NEWS
January 11, 2015 | By Don Sapatkin, Inquirer Staff Writer
Nearly half of food-borne-illness outbreaks are linked to restaurant food. The microbes that cause them are invisible and taste just fine. So how can you lower your odds of getting sick? "Go look at the bathroom," suggests Ken Gruen, a retired Philadelphia restaurant inspector ("sanitarian") who advises food establishments at Philadelphia International Airport. "If the bathroom is kept in good condition - it's clean, there is soap, there are paper towels, there is not a lot of litter on the floor - probably the kitchen is the same.
NEWS
July 9, 2016 | By Sam Wood, STAFF WRITER
There are three health violations that are sure to temporarily shut down an eatery in Philadelphia: no hot water, a rodent infestation, and not having an employee on site who has passed a food safety course. But it's the last infraction - having no one on duty trained to prevent food poisoning - that triggers the overwhelming number of closures. According to a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, eateries usually get one pass. But if an inspector returns, and a food safety certified person is still missing, the business is asked to "discontinue food operations" for at least the rest of the day. During the last week, the health department temporarily shuttered 19 restaurants and neighborhood groceries.
NEWS
August 27, 1998
The food Americans eat is the safest in the world. In the final analysis, that might not be saying very much. No need to be alarmist: Chances of eating a deadly hamburger, egg or strawberry are small. Unfortunately, the chances weren't small enough for the estimated 9,000 Americans who die each year because of a food-related illness. That's why a tougher, better-coordinated food inspection process is needed in the United States. The Clinton administration has made that a goal.
BUSINESS
August 29, 2010 | By Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Columnist
News about the massive Iowa egg recall has turned attention to practices at two industrial-size egg producers, and to the question of how salmonella bacteria were spread around the farms and even into chicken feed. It's a good moment to focus on a risk many of us don't like to think about: the possibility of getting very sick from microbes spread via our own food - in this case, from bacteria that inhabit the reproductive tracts of some perfectly healthy hens. Inside unbroken shells, eggs were once considered safe from pathogens.
NEWS
March 1, 2013 | By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Fewer food-safety inspections and an increased risk to consumers will result from the lack of a new 2013 budget from Congress and the impending across-the-board spending cuts, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Thursday. The cuts were to take effect Friday unless the White House and Congress could come to a budget agreement. The reduced inspections and budget cuts could delay a new food safety law that requires the agency to boost inspections and directs farms and food facilities to ensure their food is safe.
BUSINESS
January 5, 1990 | By Sonja Hillgren, Inquirer Washington Bureau
Agriculture Secretary Clayton K. Yeutter and top foreign agricultural ministers tentatively agreed yesterday to develop an international crisis- management plan to respond to food scares. Yeutter and agricultural ministers from the European Community, Canada, Australia and Japan agreed they needed to devote more attention in the 1990s to consumers' demand for safe food. Fresh in their minds were U.S. controversies last year over a U.S. ban on imports of Chilean grapes and consumer concern about residues of the chemical Alar, which extends the shelf life of apples.
NEWS
January 12, 1998 | by Victor Davis Hanson
Can a society achieve an environment free of risk? And at what cost? Recent reports that fruits and vegetables have been contaminated by the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium have prompted calls for new food safety regulations. Plenty of existing rules cover food packing and distributing, but consumer advocates have turned to the farmers themselves and questioned whether they safely grow and pick fruits and vegetables. In earlier decades the American public worried that farmers were dousing their produce with too many carcinogenic fungicides and pesticides.
NEWS
August 7, 2009 | By Don Sapatkin, Inquirer Staff Writer
Joining a national movement for food safety, restaurant inspectors in Philadelphia have abandoned the "floors, walls, ceilings" focus that experts say catches chipped paint but often misses real public health threats such as undercooked food and chefs' unwashed hands. Instead, the city is phasing in a more scientific, "risk-based" approach that emphasizes food workers' knowledge and behavior - do they know how contamination is spread and how to prevent it? - and calls for more frequent inspections of eateries that pose greater risks.
BUSINESS
January 9, 2011 | By Jeff Gelles, Inquirer Columnist
The incredible, edible egg - or at least those coming from two rodent-infested Iowa egg farms - caused 1,937 traceable illnesses from Salmonella enteritidis last year, which means the contaminated eggs probably sickened nearly 60,000 people nationwide. Thankfully, there's no evidence anyone died from the outbreak - unlike other recent outbreaks linked to peanuts and packaged celery, blamed in at least 14 deaths. But there was also no evidence that one of the farms, Wright County Egg, had ever been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.
NEWS
July 29, 2010 | By NATALIE POMPILIO, pompiln@phillynews.com 215-854-2595
Sometimes, it's good to be an Average Joe. Enjoy that pretzel and beer in the bleachers at Citizens Bank Park tonight and know that it's about as healthy as it's going to get. According to Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspections, most of the stadium is in compliance when it comes to food-safety issues. But high-fliers take note: The tony Diamond Club had violations ranging from fruit flies in the bar area to "visible physical evidence of rodent/insect activity," according to a PDA report dated last September.
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NEWS
July 9, 2016 | By Sam Wood, STAFF WRITER
There are three health violations that are sure to temporarily shut down an eatery in Philadelphia: no hot water, a rodent infestation, and not having an employee on site who has passed a food safety course. But it's the last infraction - having no one on duty trained to prevent food poisoning - that triggers the overwhelming number of closures. According to a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, eateries usually get one pass. But if an inspector returns, and a food safety certified person is still missing, the business is asked to "discontinue food operations" for at least the rest of the day. During the last week, the health department temporarily shuttered 19 restaurants and neighborhood groceries.
FOOD
June 17, 2016
1. Set up the grill with both high- and low-heat areas. That allows you to move food away from flare-ups; sear thicker meats over high heat, then finish them over low heat without burning; and cook different types of foods at once, such as steaks over high heat and asparagus over low heat. 2. For instant flavor, use a spice rub instead of a marinade or brine. You eat all of the seasonings in a rub, but throw most of them away in a marinade or brine. 3. For smoke flavor, add wood chunks or chips to the coolest part of the fire, but skip soaking them in water - wood doesn't absorb much, and the water has to evaporate before the wood starts to smoke.
NEWS
May 5, 2016 | By Sam Wood, STAFF WRITER
During the last two weeks, the Philadelphia health department has asked a number of restaurants, food stands and neighborhood grocery stores to temporarily close to address violations found during routine inspections. Most of the establishments were given the OK to reopen the next day. The most commonly cited violations included mouse droppings, lack of running water and an absence of a food safety certified person. An Inquirer analysis of city inspection reports last year found the average restaurant was cited with 7.8 violations, 2.3 of which were considered serious.
NEWS
March 5, 2016 | By Sam Wood, STAFF WRITER
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks, a favorite lunch destination of Center City bankers and Philadelphia city officials, was issued an order to cease and desist operations this week after a health inspector discovered "wastewater backing up into the establishment" and "nonpotable water" leaking from the kitchen ceiling. Though restaurant managers agreed to immediately shut down Wednesday until repairs were complete, business went on as usual. "We never closed," said a floor manager who answered the phone Thursday.
NEWS
October 16, 2015
Wilbur Olin Atwater, considered to be the godfather of food science in this country, thinks "well-to-do" Americans have too much fat, too much sugar and not nearly enough physical activity. The many modern conveniences of the food supply have rendered the population unhealthy; we'd all do much better with a more reasonably balanced diet and regular rigorous exercise, the doctor and researcher concluded. He drew that conclusion in 1890. So, maybe our kinship with lousy-for-you foods and the associated laziness hasn't evolved all that much over the past 125 years.
NEWS
July 18, 2015 | By Don Sapatkin, Inquirer Staff Writer
Back in 2002, with at least 85 people sickened by Salmonella , Bucks County health inspectors discovered that kitchen workers at a Lone Star Steakhouse on Route 1 were washing tomatoes and raw chicken in the same sink. They shut the place down until an additional sink could be installed to prevent cross-contamination. "We thought we had it nailed," recalled Bill Roth, who oversees food safety for the county health department. Not exactly. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed victims' stool samples, Roth recalled, they noticed something completely different: The same strain of Salmonella had been found elsewhere.
NEWS
March 20, 2015
RE: KIMBERLY Garrison's article on "Harvest of Shame": I hope your tremendous article isn't just "one and done. " I recently moved back to the East Coast after two years in California, where I would see, almost daily, those migrant workers you wrote about, gathering at pickup spots or driving a beat-up old pickup truck with too many people to safely fit in the back (if "safe" could ever be a term for anyone sitting in the back of a pickup truck),...
NEWS
January 25, 2015 | By Don Sapatkin, Inquirer Staff Writer
When preparing food at home, do you: Clean sponges with soap to kill bacteria after wiping up drippings on countertops? Cover Tupperware containers when cooling hot food in the fridge? Rinse chicken in the sink? All not good. "Washing a sponge with soap doesn't get rid of bacteria," said microbiologist Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety. They grow at room temperature and get spread around anything else you wipe off. "Put the sponge in a microwave for one minute to kill the salmonella and other bacteria," he said.
NEWS
January 11, 2015 | By Don Sapatkin, Inquirer Staff Writer
Nearly half of food-borne-illness outbreaks are linked to restaurant food. The microbes that cause them are invisible and taste just fine. So how can you lower your odds of getting sick? "Go look at the bathroom," suggests Ken Gruen, a retired Philadelphia restaurant inspector ("sanitarian") who advises food establishments at Philadelphia International Airport. "If the bathroom is kept in good condition - it's clean, there is soap, there are paper towels, there is not a lot of litter on the floor - probably the kitchen is the same.
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