Are establishments allowed to serve an undercooked meat product, such as eggs and hamburgers?
Facilities are required to notify you in an effective manner that consuming an undercooked animal product can be hazardous to your health. The consumer advisory consists of two parameters. First, a disclosure of what items can be served in an undercooked or raw form, followed by a reminder that consuming food that is undercooked can result in foodborne illness. Serving undercooked items to a highly susceptible population (assisted living homes, daycares) is prohibited.
How long can leftover food be left out of the refrigerator?
Hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible within two hours after cooking. Do not keep the food if it has been setting out for more than two hours. Do not taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness.
My refrigerator door was accidentally left open overnight. Can I still eat the food inside?
The answer to this question depends on the temperature of the food and how long it was held without refrigeration. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature on the inside of the food. If the foods are not above 41ºF (5ºC), then it should be safe to eat. If the food has been above 41ºF (5ºC), then it is critical to determine how long it has been above 41ºF (5ºC). If the food has been above 41ºF (5ºC) for more than 4 hours, then it is safest to discard these items.
How often are food establishments inspected?
Food establishments are divided into risk levels, which determine how frequently they are inspected. Gas Stations that sell food are inspected two times a year, while full service restaurants may be inspected up to four times a year.
What is the proper temperature for your refrigerator?
Refrigerators should stay at 41ºF (5ºC) or less. A temperature of 41ºF (5ºC) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature will not kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying. The fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them. Freezing at 0ºF (minus 18ºC) or less stops bacterial growth (although it will not kill all bacteria already present.)
Does "freezer burn" make food unsafe?
Freezer burn is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots on frozen food. It occurs when air reaches the foods surface and dries out the product. This can happen when food is not securely wrapped in air-tight packaging. Color changes result from chemical changes in the food's pigment. Although undesirable, freezer burn does not make the food unsafe. Cut away these areas either before or after cooking the food. When freezing food in plastic bags, push all the air out before sealing.
How long can shelf-stable foods be safely stored on the shelf?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food can be safe forever from a foodborne-illness standpoint - but if shelf-stable food has been on the shelf for an extended period of time, you might not want to eat it because the quality may not be good. In this case, the "best if used by" date on the label of the product is an indication whether or not the quality of the food is good. Food quality deals with taste, texture, and nutritional value of food. For example, freezer burn, rancidity, and food spoilage are all quality-related issues. The FDA does not require an expiration date for shelf-stable foods, since the storage time for these foods is a quality issue, not a food safety concern.
Why do stores sell food with old dates?
Manufacturers of baby formula are required to date their products. After this date, these products must be removed from sale. However, with all other packaged food products, code dates are voluntary. Manufacturers who choose to include these voluntary dates often do so to indicate a peak taste or nutritional value.
Why is it important to use a cooking thermometer?
One of the critical factors in fighting food-borne illness is temperature. Bacteria grows slowly at low temperatures and multiplies rapidly at mid-range temperatures. To be safe, a product must be cooked to an internal temperature high enough to destroy harmful bacteria. Using a thermometer is a reliable way to ensure that food has reached the proper temperature. However, to be effective, the thermometers must be used properly and calibrated correctly. If the thermometer is inserted incorrectly, or placed in the wrong area, the reading may not accurately reflect the internal temperature of the product. In general, the thermometer should be place in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat or gristle. Read the manufacturer's instructions on how to calibrate (check the accuracy of) the thermometer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, temperature is the only way to gauge whether food is sufficiently cooked. USDA research reveals that the color test can give consumers misleading information about the safety of the foods they are preparing, since cooked color varies considerably. For example, freezing and thawing may influence a meats tendency to brown prematurely.
Does the City of Coppell require food workers to have food handler cards?
No. The City of Coppell only requires a Certified Food Protection Manager for all establishments that have employees whose work brings them in contact with the handling of food, utensils, or food service equipment. There has to be a certified food service manager on duty during all hours of operation.
Are food handlers required to wear gloves when handling food with their bare hands?
The current Texas Department of State Health Services requirements for food establishments do not require that food handlers wear gloves. However, the standards do require that two control measures be used prior to handling ready to eat foods with bare hands. Control measures may include double washing, nail brushes, and/or using a hand sanitizer after handwashing. The standards also require documentation that is to be maintained at the establishment that food employees have received training in proper handwashing and documentation that employees that do not wear gloves utilize two or more control measures. The Environmental Health Department strongly encourages the use of utensils whenever possible to minimize bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. Food employees may not contact ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands if they are serving a highly susceptible population.
Who is required to obtain a food permit?
A food permit is required for all businesses or organizations that provide perishable food, whether pre-packaged or non-prepackaged to the public. Permanent and seasonal establishments, as well as temporary events, are required to apply for a food permit, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food. Restaurants, grocery stores, carnivals, barbecues, concession stands, mobile vendors, and temporary vendors are a few cases in which food permits are required. The City of Coppell does not regulate private groups serving food only to their own members and guests. If an event is advertised as public and targets members of the public outside the group membership for purposes of fund-raising, then the event is "public" and is regulated.
What about Bake Sales?
A bake sale does not require a permit. However, no potentially hazardous baked goods can be served. Examples of potentially hazardous baked goods are meringue pies, pumpkin pies, and other dairy-based items.
Can I prepare food items in my home and sell them to the public?
Senate Bill 81 allows individuals to produce and sell baked goods, canned jams and jelly, or a dried herb or herb mixes from their homes. These producers are referred to as Cottage Food Production Operations. Foods that are produced at the person's home may only be sold directly to consumers from the producer's place of residence. There are specific types of foods that may be prepared at home, and labeling is required. All other foods offered to the general public must be prepared in a commercial establishment that is inspected by a federal, state or local authority.
What do I do if I suspect I have contracted a foodborne illness?
Go to the doctor, then call the Coppell Environmental Health Department at 972-462-5164. Tell the doctor what you had to eat, and when you ate it. The doctor may take a stool sample to determine if a foodborne illness is present. If there is a positive test result for a foodborne illness, contact the Environmental Health Department immediately.
Can I review the inspection report from a local restaurant?
Yes. Click here.