Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Getting to Know an Environmental Health Specialist...

With all of the disease outbreaks from spinach to sprouts, how do we know if the food served in Jefferson County is safe? Seems like a big job, and, it is! Inspectors in Jefferson County conduct over 4,600 inspections of over 1800 food service establishments.

We inspect all kinds of food service establishments; from full service restaurants to school cafeterias, grocery stores, and even the hot dog cart at a neighborhood festival.

There is variety no doubt about that, no day is ever the same. As we walk into a restaurant unannounced, we become food detectives and our skills of observation and surveillance kick into gear. Each inspection is a “snap shot” in time. We have to learn a lot about a restaurant in just two or three visits a year.

So how you may ask do we know what goes on the other days of the year?

We look for clues about how food is handled when we’re not there. We ask how they prepare items on their menu, collect information like food temperatures and we ask a lot of questions. We watch how food handlers prepare and cook food, wash hands and dishes. And of course we document any areas that need correcting.

To do your own detective work, look up your favorite restaurant inspection by going to our web site at

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