ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Colorado restaurants are being held to a higher standard after changes to the state’s food rules and regulations.
Last year,salmonella outbreaks sickened dozens of people at restaurants across Denver metro counties prompting Colorado’s Board of Health to adopt changes.
Maria Montes says her daughter came painfully close to dying from salmonella poisoning. “She went through so much. We were so scared at that point,” Montes said.
Her 10-year-old daughter was sickened in one of Weld Counties worst cases of Salmonella poisoning in recent history. She was one of 37 people who became ill from the outbreak linked to Burrito Delight in Fort Lupton.
Colorado joins 49 other states adopting the 2013 FDA food code. The new food code is designed to keep restaurant from spreading disease to the public.
Executive Chef David Polakoff oversees the kitchen at One Barrel Bistro and Wine Bar on South Broadway in Englewood.
The new rules state that at least one person must be a certified food protection manager and at One Barrel that’s Polakoff.
Tri-county food inspector Margaret Furlow said, “The hope is if somebody in the kitchen has a certified food protection manager certificate they will impart that food safety knowledge to the rest of the staff.”
The new code also requires ready to eat foods like prepared salads to be dated and thrown away with 7 days.
Furlow told us it’s important for locations to monitor their food supplies. “Certain microbes can grow at refrigeration so limiting the time that they are keeping the item really helps protect food safety,” Furlow said.
All hand sinks must now display a sign which acts as a reminder. “The hand washing sign requirement is another reminder to staff to wash their hands in between tasks and when entering the kitchen,” Furlow explained.
And there must be a plan in place in case someone becomes sick.
Furlow said, “One of our biggest outbreaks at restaurants is Norovirus and it can spread really fast. We want restaurants to be able to clean up if there is a vomit event in their dining area or with one of their staff members to prevent the spread.”
The code also replaces the form food experts use when going through a restaurant. The form changes what inspectors called critical items to priority and priority foundation items. Restaurants have 72 hours to fix what is deemed a priority issue and 10 days to fix priority foundation mistakes. There are also “core items” which must be replaced within 3 months.
Tri-county’s 27 food inspectors and Jefferson county’s experts started training for the changes last year. Along with the new food code, a different rating system later this year could change the way restaurants in Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties display their inspection scores.
Weld and Larimer counties will continue to use excellent, good, fair, marginal and unacceptable to rate restaurants.
All the counties’ inspections are available online or at the links below.