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During a seemingly routine food service establishment inspection, an EHA food safety inspector observed an on-site refrigeration unit which appeared to be malfunctioning or operating erratically. Following a closer examination, the inspector observed an alarming and dangerous condition: condensate was not draining from the refrigeration unit. Rather, it was pooling at the unit, a condition which can facilitate growth and propagation of listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous and powerful foodborne pathogenic microorganism.
Listeria monocytogenes possesses the ability to grow and multiply at refrigerated temperatures. Refrigerators and cold temperature control units represent an environment where the organism can survive, replicate, contaminate foods and food contact surfaces, thus exposing humans to listeriosis, a serious and potentially lethal disease, of particular danger to persons with compromised immune systems, the elderly and pregnant women.
The EHA inspector took immediate action to quarantine the unit and immediate affected surrounding area. All foods inside the unit, in proximity to the unit or thought to have been exposed to the unit were identified, designated and embargoed. Once secured, the inspector coordinated notifications, secured samples of the condensate, adjacent surfaces and potentially impacted foods for laboratory analysis. A formal work order was issued and the surfaces were disinfected and sanitized for safety. A qualified technician inspected and repaired the unit. EHA coordinated with the technician to verify proper performance and safety of the refrigeration unit before approving startup and use.
Through quick and decisive action, EHA was able to swiftly identify a dangerous condition, prevent contaminated food from being served to consumers and avert a considerable calamity. Identification of the nonconformance and related corrective actions are an example of EHA diligence, experience and commitment to client and consumer food safety.
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