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Alcohol Regulation News
According to a policy bulletin issued by the Georgia Department of Revenue that takes effect July 1, 2016, all individuals must be at least 21 years of age to enter a bar (unless accompanied by his/her parent, guardian, or spouse who is 21 years of age or older) and all individuals employed by a bar must also be at least 21 years of age. Certain exceptions apply. For more information visit the Georgia Department of Revenue website: https://dor.georgia.gov/alcohol-tobacco-policy-bulletins
Food Safety News
November 2016CDC News: The growing number of in-store eateries in such places as supermarkets and convenience stores - known as "retail-host restaurants" - are experiencing a rise in foodborne disease. The CDC reports that foodborne illness outbreaks linked to supermarkets more than doubled between 2014 and 2015. Salmonella was the most common cause of these outbreaks, followed by norovirus. Analysts suggest that high employee turnover is a challenge to adequate food safety training in these businesses and could be contributing to the problem.
FDA News: The FDA CFSAN Retail Food Policy Team has developed a Job Aid to assist with the determination of Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods. It is a useful flow chart that can be found and downloaded from the regulatory page of the FDA website: Industry and Regulatory Assistance and Training Resources
Industry News: Cell phones and other touchscreens are often dirty and are capable of spreading pathogens. Health care facilities have been studying the problem of touchscreen use and the spread of disease and the results are disturbing. Following are a few brief highlights of the issue as it relates to food safety:
- Warm touchscreens are ideal hosts and transmitters of infectious disease because they are an ideal place for pathogens to grow.
- They are regularly contaminated by unclean human hands and body fluids.
- They are rarely thoroughly cleaned, due in part to the fear of damaging them.
- They operate at a warm temperature, which pathogens like.
- Personal cell phones and menu touchscreens used in restaurants are susceptible to contamination.
- In one study of 200 phones, 94.5% of them were contaminated with bacteria, and many of the bacteria were resistant to multiple antibiotics. Approximately 30% of the bacteria found on the phones ended up on the owner's hands.
New Interpretations in the Food Code Reference System (FCRS), a searchable database that provides access to FDA's interpretative positions and responses to questions related to the FDA Food Code, include:
- On October 1, 2015, FDA released a new interpretive position that addressed handwashing water temperature. The FDA has clarified that the FDA Food Code does not state a specific water temperature for handwashing but reminds individuals to check with local regulations.
- On October 28, 2015, FDA released a new interpretive position that addressed the definition of cut leafy greens. The FDA has clarified that leafy greens which have been harvested in the field by cutting into the stem or leaf of the plant is not considered to be a cut leafy green for the purposes of applying the FDA Food Code. This is good clarification of an issue that can be confusing to food workers and managers.
- Preliminary data released by FoodNet* from 2014 indicated that infections from Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) O157 and one type of Salmonella have been reduced. However, the incidence of infection with two other types of Salmonella has increased significantly. While progress has been made in decreasing contamination of some foods and reducing illness caused by some pathogens, little or no recent reductions for most infections have occurred.
- Data gathered from 2010-2014 reveal an increasing frequency of outbreaks occurring in multiple states. Although these outbreaks only accounted for 3% of all reported foodborne outbreaks, they were responsible for 11% of illnesses, 34% of hospitalizations, and 56% of deaths associated with foodborne outbreaks. The CDC concludes that the damage caused by multistate foodborne disease outbreaks is disproportionally high relative to their occurrence. It calls upon food industries and public health departments and agencies to work together to develop and implement more effective ways to identify and to trace contaminated foods linked to multistate outbreaks.
On May 11, 2015, the FDA issued a revision to its procedures manual for the standardization of food safety inspectors. The procedures are based on the FDA Food Code and are updated to reflect the 2013 Food Code provisions and include more focus on foodborne illness risk factors, food code interventions, and the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).
* The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), which is a collaboration among the CDC, state health departments, the USDA Inspection Service, and the FDA, monitors laboratory-confirmed infections caused by nine pathogens commonly transmitted through food in 10 geographic areas covering approximately 15% of the U.S. population (approximately 48 million people in 2013).
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