In 2014, 60 percent of reported outbreaks and 42 percent of outbreak-associated illnesses in the United States were related to food prepared in restaurants. Foodborne illnesses cost billions of dollars each year, including the expense of medical treatment as well as lost productivity.
In Mesa County, businesses and the Mesa County Health Department work together to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. The department recently recognized 20 Mesa County businesses in welcoming them into the Partnership for Food Safety Program. The program constitutes a proactive approach that uses standard operating procedures to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. Businesses that were recognized met the following criteria:
At least 90 percent of food handlers in the facility hold a Mesa County Food Handler card or ServSafe certificate.
A food safety certified manager remains on premises during operations.
The most current inspection report for the facility has no foodborne illness risk factors cited and no more than three critical violations cited.
A score of at least 70 percent on the Active Managerial Control self-assessment.
Last year, six Mesa County businesses were recognized by the Partnership for Food Safety: the Commons of Hilltop, Dos Hombres in Clifton, Judy’s Family Restaurant, No Coast in Grand Junction and Fruita and Pablo’s Pizza in Grand Junction.
Of those businesses, five chose to continue meeting the rigorous standards in the program and were celebrated as 2016 partners as well. Fifteen new partners joined the partnership in 2016: Applebee’s, Chili’s, Colorado Q, Dairy Queen of Orchard Mesa and Mesa Mall, Dream Café, the Egg and I, Fisher’s Market, ’Ganic Grub, Junct’n Square Pizza, Michael Angelo’s Wood Fired Pizza, P.S. Catering, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Varaison Vineyards and Wine Country Inn.
Why should your business consider participating? Improvements to food safety benefit your customers, employees and business.
“As a newer general manager, I couldn’t think of anything more important for my restaurant than to be a leader in food safety,” said Margie Latta, general manager of Applebee’s Grill & Bar. “Keeping our customers safe will keep them coming back, and that’s the best way to grow our business. My team is 100 percent on board, which is essential when coaching our large staff of 85 employees.”
Spike Howard, the owner of Clifton Dos Hombres, said participating in the partnership benefits his business because it improves food safety and attracts customers through promotion of the program by the Mesa County Health Department.
“This program is now part of our culture and has improved our food safety because every employee is part of our food safety team. I believe anything we can do to improve food safety is beneficial to our customers, employees and my business. It is very gratifying to have the trust of our customers. I will do everything possible not to break that trust,” Howard said.
Latta and Howard encouraged other restaurant managers and owners to consider joining the partnership. “Food safety is the most important thing you can offer any customer in the restaurant business,” Latta said. “It just makes sense to push for this partnership.”
For more information about the Partnership for Food Safety, contact the Mesa County Health Department at (970) 248-6900 or visit www.health.mesacounty.us.