Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler announced two new initiatives to improve food safety in the community:
• The public now has online access to current food inspection reports for those local establishments that have been issued Food Enforcement Notices for high-risk violations.
• The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) has received a five-year, $350,000 grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce foodborne illness originating from retail food establishments.
The public can access the food inspection reports at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: food inspection). Reports will only be available if an establishment has received a Food Enforcement Notice in the last three years.
“The vast majority of our local food establishments do an outstanding job of serving our community,” Mayor Beutler said. “But when enforcement actions are necessary, it’s important that the public have access to this information. This is an excellent use of technology to help protect the health of our residents and visitors.”
The FDA grant will enable LLCHD to hire a Retail Food Safety Consultant to coordinate a local Food Managers for Excellence Task Force. Task force members will help identify barriers that prohibit staff and owners from using safe food practices. The task force will then use that information to develop strategies to improve food safety practices in local retail food establishments.
“The Food Managers for Excellence Task Force will identify how implementing the best food safety practices can become the easy and smart thing to do,” said Joyce Jensen, Food Safety Program Supervisor for the LLCHD. “This grant allows us to offer a Retail Food Safety Consultation Service that will help owners and staff provide the highest level of food safety to the public.”
Jensen said the Retail Food Safety Consultant also will provide on-site consultation to managers in poorer performing retail food establishments. The consultant will help establishments put into practice actions to address FDA’s five key risk factors for foodborne illness: food from unsafe sources; poor personal hygiene; inadequate cooking; improper holding of food (time and temperature); and contaminated food surfaces and equipment.
Mayor Beutler said LLCHD’s Food Safety Program is already recognized nationally as a leader in promoting food safety and protecting people from foodborne illness. More information on the program is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: food safety).