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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

When pleasing the health inspector may not be sufficient:

Like passing food safety audits, passing health inspections does not necessarily provide a safeguard against, indifference, carelessness, or inconsistent adherence to good food handling practices by each employee. Evidently, this California Deli has been inspected and allowed to operate in the past.

Artificially setting things up to pass inspections or audits can backfire at times. The "pass" may lull people into sleep (apathy, laziness, lack of commitment, etc). Passed inspections or audits can cause employees to let the guards down until the likes of Norovirus sneaks up to devastate the operation.

Can anything be worse? Yes. Having a careless attitude that leads to the failing of inspections or audits is worse. Apart from the penalties (enforced or otherwise) that are associated with failing inspections and audits, operations that fail audits in spite of all that is currently known about effective food safety practices have hidden demons to deal with. Ignoring these demons is suicidal. 

Restaurants and other food service operations take note!

Norovirus is not a new pathogen. It has been around and known for several years now. This article reports that “Norovirus, formerly known as Norwalk Virus, was discovered and named after a gastrointestinal illness outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1972.  Like all other viruses (and unlike bacteria) Norovirus is extremely small and invades the cells of the human body to replicate itself using the cell's own material.

Whereas paper-based and mere "compliance-focused" HACCP systems may not address the problems with the likes of Norovirus, properly implemented hazard analysis, pre-requisite and HACCP programs should adequately prevent or at least reduce incidence of related outbreaks even if the specific microorganisms are not mentioned by name.

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