Recently a very heated subject was broached on a mobile vendor forum. A member had lost points on an inspection for not having a procedure for vomit cleanup. The uninformed vendors jumped to his defense telling him the inspector was wrong, to talk to the inspector’s boss, just tell the inspector the vendors food doesn’t make people sick, they don’t have a policy, and NO ONE would tell them to clean that up. Then the discussion turned comical as people chimed in nonsense about bio-hazards and the health department COULD NOT FORCE a vendor to clean up something like that and they were opening themselves up to lawsuits. Only a couple sensible people added useful comments and links to state health department required procedures for such cleanup.
I would hope someone handling food and serving it the public would understand health codes, respect them and follow them. Sadly, the vast majority of people in mobile vending barely understand hand washing, let alone detailed health codes. It does not help when certain vendor “gurus” set up courses referring to health inspectors and city officials as stupid, lying fools out to stop you from making money. This overwhelming “us against them” mentality only serves to justify the dumb responses on forums. Bottom line - health inspectors, just like you, want to earn a living. Are some overzealous? Yes, as anyone is when they first start any new job or business. Do they mellow out over time? Again, Yes. As they learn the job, attend calibration training and mature as inspectors they become easier to deal with. Can they be wrong about a code interpretation? Yes, occasionally, as we all can be about codes, specs, regulations and laws. Are they out to get you? No, unless you have a history of poor sanitation scores and complaints, then deservedly so, YES. I would be out to get you, too. You have created more work, apparently don’t care about following codes for public safety and have caused problems by not knowing your own codes.
Who is correct in the above vomit cleanup discussion? Health Inspector, duh. In 2013 this was added to the FDA Code:
Amended Form 3-A, Food Establishment Inspection Report form, for consistency with changes made in the Supplement with the 2009 Food Code to add two new entries and renumber the subsequent items. This change added in a new item #2 Certified Food Protection Manager, renumbered existing #2-3 as new items #3-4; added in a new item #5 Procedures for responding to vomiting and diarrheal events, renumbered existing items #4-54 as new #6-56.
Also, this was added to all Food manager training beginning in 2014. Meaning every state that adopted the 2013 FDA Food Code requires a written procedure for both vomit and diarrhea. As of the end of 2016 these states use that very same code:
The 2013 Food Code is the most recent version adopted in 17 States: Alabama, Connecticut (one of two agencies), Delaware, Georgia (both agencies), Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi (both agencies), Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah (both agencies), and Virginia (both agencies)
This represents 34% of the US population under the 2013 Code BUT 100% of all food manager training since 2014 has sections or chapters on this clean up procedure. Depending on which test is taken at least one question could cover the procedure as well. The only vendors then that are excused from not knowing this either live in the other 33 states OR took the food manager certification prior to 2014. Since the certification is required at most every 5 years there should be no one left in the dark by the conclusion of 2018.
Here is a minimal procedure from GA:
Use this as an example for your written policy, there are commercial kits available for around $12 that your may need to purchase. Check with your state for their exact requirements and above all don’t follow the advice of an anonymous “expert” from a Facebook group.
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I have had a passion for helping people since an early age back in rural Kentucky. That passion grew into teaching and training managers and owners how to grow sales, increase profits, and retain guests. You’ll find a ton of information here about improving restaurant and food cart/trailer operations and profits. Got questions? Email me at Bill_Moore@live.com