The service and provision of safe and wholesome food is the intent of all those who have responsibilities for handling and preparing food for the campus community whether it be Dining Services, student organizations, or outside contractor and vendors. The Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer works closely with food service providers and regulatory personnel reviewing the practices and procedures involved in food handling, providing training to management, staff, and students, reviewing plans for new and renovated food service facilities, and investigating any situations regarding potential foodborne illness or adulteration.
The information provided here describes the Food Protection Program and other resources that are available to aid in service of safe food and an understanding of food protection issues.
If you have further questions about food protection issues, contact Jacqueline Wagner
The Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer in Environmental Health and Safety maintains an on-going program for food protection and sanitation to help ensure that safe and sanitary food-handling practices are followed in University facilities and functions. The goal of this program is to ensure the service of safe food, meet the regulatory requirements of State Sanitary Code, and prevent circumstances or conditions that might result in foodborne illness.
The program consists of:
The Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer conducts formal inspections once or twice each year and visits the food service operations periodically throughout the year for audits of critical points in food handling practices, and for informal contact and discussion with management and staff. This includes the operations and functions of Dining Services; student-run cafes and coffee houses; Murray-Dodge kitchen with its Cafe and International Center luncheons; Prospect House, Palmer House, and Genomics Cafe; DeBasement Bar at the Graduate College; and periodic events like Communiversity . The Biosafety Officer also accompanies the Princeton Health Department officials on their annual regulatory inspections of each of these operations. Findings and recommendations from internal inspections and audits are made to the management of the specific food operations involved.
Inspectors from the Princeton Regional Health Department, during reviews of campus food operations, have generally found the campus facilities to be exemplary with regard to meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements and conscientiously addressing any maintenance, equipment, or procedural deficiencies that are identified. Regulatory inspections result in the issuance of a rating based on code compliance and the extent of good practice including “Satisfactory”, “Conditionally Satisfactory” (improved conditions expected on a subsequent inspection after a set time period), or “Unsatisfactory” (the operation is not allowed to continue until critical improvements are made). The University facilities have consistently received “Satisfactory” ratings over the past 20+ years.
The Biosafety Officer generally provides one-on-one consultation and training
to students involved in University-sanctioned food operations and events,
EHS staff conduct training in food protection principles and sanitation for Dining Services personnel consisting of an initial orientation session that also includes OSHA-required safety training. Additional training sessions and meetings are held periodically with staff and management for presentation of topics of current interest and need.
Dining Service employees are encouraged to participate in training provided by local and State health agencies. The Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer participates annually as a presenter in the State Health Department-sponsored two-day training seminar at Rutgers University on the food protection principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). This seminar addresses the critical areas of time and temperature control in food handling and preparation. Dining Services has sent management staff to this seminar each year and the majority of Dining Services management have completed this course. For further information about participation in any available training, contact EHS.
Anyone planning an event at which food will be prepared and served should contact the Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer to ensure that the appropriate licensing and regulatory requirements are met and that proper food safety practices are discussed with those involved.
Critically important aspects of food safety which need to be considered include:
If foods are being catered from outside the University, the catering firm is required to provide certain documentation to provide the Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer and Risk Management with assurance that they are properly licensed, receive satisfactory regulatory inspection, and have the appropriate liability coverage.
The following documentation is to be provided to the Office of Risk Management at least 30 days prior to the event or function.
When food operations on campus are renovated, the Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer is involved in the plan review process to ensure that the appropriate layout, equipment, and materials are provided to facilitate safe and efficient food storage, handling, holding, and service. This plan review places priority on the need for good time and temperature control, appropriate equipment, and the practices and procedures that are part of the HACCP (Hazard Analysis/Critical Control Point) approach to food protection. Good plan review improves the University’s capability to maintain and operate facilities with the highest level of food protection. Plans for any renovation or modification of food service facilities need to be reviewed by the Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer.
In the event that food is suspected of being adulterated or involved in an illness event, the Environmental Health and Biosafety Officer conducts an investigation to identify the source and thus prevent further illnesses or injuries from happening.
Notification about possible foodborne illness will usually come from McCosh Health Center staff. They notify Environmental Health and Safety if they are seeing a number of cases with similar gastrointestinal symptoms coming from the same event, eating unit, or the same time frame. In some cases, Dining Services management or others responsible for a food service event might notify EHS of a report of illness among those eating at a particular meal or event. There may also be notification directly from an employee or student who suspects their (or others’) illness(es) might be related to food.
When notified that illness cases potentially associated with food are being seen at McCosh Health Center, the Biosafety Officer begins an investigation at McCosh through discussion of cases with medical personnel. Case History Questionnaire forms are completed for the cases being seen and clinical specimens are taken as appropriate for laboratory analysis that may help to identify the illness organism. Any particular event, meal, or dining facility that appears to be common among ill cases reviewed regarding the food-handling practices involved. The Princeton Health Department is notified when it is determined that foodborne illness is likely.
Individuals in the campus community that feel they may have illness related to food or suspect adulterated food items should contact the Biosafety Officer to ensure that the appropriate investigation can be completed.
The Food Safety Information Center provides is a service of the USDA National Agricultural Library and provides food safety information for consumers, educators and others, including an education and training materials database. The information web site is located at http://foodsafety.nal.usda.gov.
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