FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: Restaurant safety grading, food thermometer use

Mar 7, 2012

NYC Salmonella cases dropped during first year of restaurant grading
Salmonella infections in New York City decreased 13.5% in 2011, the first full year of operation for the city's system of grading restaurants for food safety practices, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The health department cited a preliminary count of 1,121 salmonellosis cases in 2011, versus 1,296 in 2010. Officials also said 24,000 restaurants earned an "A" grade in 2011, up from 65% the year before. "It just may be that clean kitchens are as good for business as clean air is when a restaurant is smoke-free," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference. The city started handing out "A," "B," and "C" grades for sanitary conditions in 2010, and restaurants are required to post the grade in a spot visible from the outside. A spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association told the AP that the system is punitive and burdensome for small businesses.
Mar 7 AP story

More US consumers buying food thermometers, but use sketchy
US consumers are more likely to own food thermometers than they were 12 years ago, but their reported use for some meats remains low, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study. FDA researchers studied data from Food Safety Surveys of US adults conducted in 1998, 2001, 2006, and 2010. According to their report in the current Journal of Food Protection, they found that thermometer ownership overall increased from 49% in 1998 to 70% in 2010 (P < 0.05). The use of the devices also increased in that span but varied according to meat type studied. Use increased from 76% to 82% for roasts, from 33% to 53% for chicken parts, but only from 14% to 23% for hamburgers. The investigators also found that male sex, white race, higher education and income, and age 65 or older were associated with higher ownership rates. But they also found that, after controlling for thermometer ownership, respondents 18 to 29 years old were more likely to use a thermometer for roasts and chicken parts than were those 65 and older. The authors conclude, "The results suggest that educational programs encouraging food thermometer usage should focus first on food thermometer ownership."
March J Food Prot abstract

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