On Monday, October 24th FCS Professionals members and guests gathered at the Midtown Global Market conference room for a tasty meal, organization updates, and featured guest speaker, Justo Garcia.
The delicious meal was catered by Moroccan Flavors Minneapolis .
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Oranges with Rosewater & Cinnamon
Traditional Mint Tea
President Verna Ludvigson welcomed members and guests. New members and guests were introduced.
Justo Garcia, a City of Minneapolis Food Inspector, was our featured speaker of the evening. Justo began his career in food safety in an unusual way. He career goal as a college student in Colombia was to become a marine biologist. As an intern, he knew that HAACP had something to do with food safety and he quickly became in charge of figuring out how the company could become HACCP compliant in six months! He went from intern to full time employee and enjoyed his new wages while trying to figure out this HACCP thing! After completing this challenge successfully he traveled the world. Eventually he landed in the United States and got a job with Cub Foods.
Garcia explained that his role of food inspector is not to be the “bad guy” who tries to ruin eating establishments. He wants to partner with them to ensure a safe eating environment. He explained that most eateries want to do the right thing–in many cases its a matter of education and training.
In his time as inspector, food citations have gone down by 50 percent and closures have also gone down by 70 percent. He said the most important figure is that outbreaks of food borne illnesses have decreased. The goal is not to shut down establishments–the goal is to prevent food borne illness outbreaks.
The inspector’s office not only inspects restaurants and eateries, but also large festivals, hotels, schools, food processing centers, pools/spas, and farmer’s markets. Minnesota has very strict food safety standards.
The five major risk factors for food borne illness outbreaks are:
- Improper hot/cold holding temperatures
- Improper cooking temperatures
- Contaminated utensils
- Poor employee health and hygiene
- Food from unsafe sources
Surprisingly, pests and filth are not considered a critical violation. The main risk factor of a facility is the people. Many workers come from various cultural backgrounds that have different views as what is considered “safe” food practices. It is most important to provide excellent training to food service personnel. Garcia also briefly touched on the intentional contamination of food, also known as food terrorism. There has been one instance of this in Minneapolis.