Retail Food Surveillance
Food inspections are the one of the most well recognized functions of the Cumberland County Health Department and with over 800 inspections and complaints investigations performed each year, it’s easy to see why. Our retail food surveillance program incorporates inspections as well as education and enforcement for ensuring safe food handling practices. The rules and regulations of this program are laid out in N.J.A.C. 8:24 which is known as the code for Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines. This code is also commonly referred to as simply “Chapter 24”. Here are a few highlights of our Retail Food Surveillance program;
Getting approved to serve food – everything from fine dining restaurants to church programs giving away free food need to be inspected by the Health Department. The first step in this process is filing out the appropriate application for the type of food service you will be providing. Is your service a fix facility? Is it a mobile operation? Or is it a temporary facility? How about your risk type? Will your food service be a risk 1, risk 2, risk 3, or risk 4? Don’t know the answer to these questions? Don’t worry. Most people who are starting out in the food industry have never heard of these terms, but unfortunately our applications and Chapter 24 are full of them. Because of this we offer a free sit down consultation to discuss what type of food service operation you are going to open and any problems you might run into. We will even help you to fill out your application. If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact our office at 856-327-7602.
Hosting an event where food will be served – are you a coordinator for an event where people will be serving food? Fantastic, we love seeing new events and experiences brought to Cumberland County! Unfortunately the downside is that we have to inspect all of the food vendors and if there is a vendor who is not approved to sell in our jurisdiction, they have to be removed from your event. This is easily avoidable by asking all of your vendors to sign up prior to the event and submit their health department approvals to you. Send the list in to us and there’s a good chance that we many not even show up to your event. Provide us this information early enough and we may even advertise your event on our Facebook page! Contact us for more information 856-327-7602 ext. 7124.
Inspections – we conduct at least one retail food inspection on each facility within our jurisdiction each year. Schools get done twice. The duration of our inspection will vary based on the complexity of the food preparation. A simple pizzeria may only take an hour or two while a complex sushi preparation facility may take more than four hours. Most facilities fall somewhere in between. We have to be onsite during the facility’s busiest time so that we can see how the staff really handle the food. We only get a short time in each facility to determine how well the staff are educated in safe food handling practices. If we find a problem, we have to call it out so that we can make sure it gets fixed. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people gets sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Our goal is to make sure that Cumberland County food service facilities aren’t contributing to those statistics.
Education – The Cumberland County Health Department offers free food safety training sessions through the year. The sessions are held here at our offices and run about 2 ½ hours. The sessions are open to food service workers, business owners, and home chefs. We discuss proper cooking temperatures, safe cooling practices, and basic sanitation. While this course does cover quite a bit of information about food safety, it is not a substitution for food service manager certification course. Those courses and certifications are only offered through companies such the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, Educational Foundation NRA (ServSafe), or Thompson Prometric. Keep an eye on our home page and our Facebook page to see when the next classes will be offered.
Awards – The Cumberland County Health Department is happy to announce the creation of an awards program that celebrates food service facilities that go above and beyond in protecting our health. The Silver Spoon of Excellence award is a voluntary program where facilities can let us know that they are putting in the effort to exceed the basic Chapter 24 food code standards. In exchange for their effort, qualifying facilities are recognized at our board of health meeting, presented with a certificate of appreciation, advertised on our social media pages, and celebrated in local publications. Click Here to find out more information about this program.
Here are a few more helpful websites and forms;
Food Managers Certification Course Websites
ServSafe Certification National Restaurant Association
For ServSafe Manager: www.servsafe.com/purchase
For ServSafe Food Handler: www.servsafe.com/foodhandler andwww.foodhandlerusa.com
Retail Food Establishment Inspection Report