Enter a restaurant, any restaurant, in Peachtree Corners - or anywhere in Georgia for that matter -- and there on the wall, hopefully easy for all to see, is a document from the Georgia Department of Community Health stating the restaurant’s food safety code rating. Just like anybody receiving a grade, we always want to get an A, but A’s aren’t easy to come by.
In 2007 there were major changes made in Georgia’s Food Safety Regulations. According to www.restaurantnewsresource.com these changes make it possible for the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR), to standardize the regulations from county to county which makes state inspections a lot more consistent. It also makes it possible for the Georgia regulations to be updated every time the U.S. food code is updated.
In 2009 the FDA made major food code changes which were, of course, adopted by Georgia. Each time the food code incurs big changes that makes life safer for restaurant customers but it can sometimes make life a little harder for restaurateurs.
Jesse Kauffman of TEN Bistro has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. He says that he has no problem with the new code. “We will periodically do our own health inspection so that we’ll be prepared and well rehearsed when the health inspector comes by.” He also recognizes that the new rules make things difficult sometimes.
There are very many truly important food handling rules that should under no circumstances be broken, such as: Keeping hot and cold foods at their required temperatures. First in, first out in product rotation. And, any ready to eat food can’t be handled with bare hands.
A few of the many rules that might surprise you are things like: there are point deductions for having a broken refrigerator gasket even if the internal temperature of the refrigerator remains right on target. Servers have to wash their hands every time they drop a plate off in the kitchen. If a cook is wearing, for example, a watch there is a deduction.
It’s not that any of these rules is terribly unreasonable but it does make you aware that it’s quite an achievement for a restaurant to score an A rating. Next time you go out to eat you might want to check and see how your favorite restaurant is doing. If you’re interested, you can go online to http://health.state.ga.us/programs/envservices/inspections.asp to check out the scores of your favorite restaurants. You can also go to http://health.state.ga.us/programs/envservices/foodservice.asp to read frequently asked questions about the Georgia food code.