Keeping hot dish hot

Environmental health inspectors help ensure food safety

Environmental health inspectors help ensure food safety

Visitors and residents alike can be assured the foods they eat at restaurants and food trucks is safe, thanks in part to Hennepin County environmental health inspectors.

That includes temporary establishments during large events, such as those in conjunction with the Super Bowl. During Super Bowl festivities, eight of the county’s environmental health staff joined inspectors from Minneapolis and other cities to inspect eating establishments popping up along Nicollet Mall and throughout the county.

Responding to large events

The cities of Minneapolis, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Edina, Richfield and Wayzata have their own environmental health departments. When there’s need – such as large events – Hennepin County, those cities and other counties help one another through mutual aid agreements.

“Usually, we see these large events in the summer,” said Duane Hudson, environmental health program manager. But this year brought winter challenges with the Super Bowl, with hundreds of temporary events taking place all across the county.

Regardless of season, the inspectors from multiple agencies are prepared thanks to thorough planning. The inspectors’ goals include preventing unintentional and intentional food-borne illness.

Unintentional food-borne illness can occur when foods reach temperatures that allow growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria. With temporary events, inspectors work to make sure vendors follow food safety practices, such as keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Inspections also reduce risk of tampering that can result in foodborne illness. Inspectors make sure vendors purchase foods from licensed distributors and keep ingredients secured to minimize risk.

“We try to take every precaution possible so we have successful and safe events,” Hudson said. “Hennepin County residents and visitors should be assured that it is safe to go out to eat.”