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Dec-26-2006 12:21printcomments

Oregon Restaurant Owners Reminded Refrigeration Change Takes Effect January 1st

Oregon has more than 10,000 restaurants and 19,000 total food service establishments.

Photo: kooleraid.com

(SALEM) - Public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services are reminding restaurant owners of a new refrigeration requirement that reduces the risk of foodborne illness.

Starting Jan. 1st, restaurants must hold cold foods at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, said Eric Pippert, manager of the foodborne illness prevention program in the DHS Public Health Division.

Oregon adopted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration food safety standards in 2002 that reduced the holding temperature for cold foods from 45 F to 41 F.

Restaurants were allowed a five-year phase-in period to allow time to upgrade any refrigeration equipment that could not meet the new standard.

"State and local public health, along with restaurants across the state, are taking this step to protect the public from potential foodborne illness," said Pippert.

"The change doesn't automatically mean that restaurant owners need to go out and purchase new refrigerators," he said. "In many cases, commercially designed equipment that has been properly maintained should meet the requirement."

Pippert noted that lower temperatures will help control pathogenic microorganisms such as Listeria monocytogenes that can grow in refrigerated food.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths from Listeriosis occur nationally each year.

The disease affects primarily pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery or infection of the newborn.

Approximately 45 states nationwide have adopted some version of the federal food code, which includes the 41 F requirement.

DHS and county health departments have worked with the food industry to inform restaurateurs of the change and it is routinely mentioned during restaurant inspections, according to Pippert.

The DHS Public Health Division helps protect the public's health by regulating the food service industry, overseeing the food handler card program, and providing technical assistance, training and education to restaurants and employees throughout the state.

Restaurant owners with questions about the refrigeration change can contact their local environmental health department or the DHS foodborne illness prevention program at (971) 673-0185.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Henry Ruark December 28, 2006 2:02 pm (Pacific time)

Unfortunately, when dead you are dead...statistically no longer counts. SO health-copy for healthier life counts much, here or anywheres you can get it.

Seth Waffleburger December 27, 2006 9:17 pm (Pacific time)

That's correct Curmit. 300 million is a microscopically small number and about 30 times that many people do die each year from falls, this is true too. You are in intellectual genius! How did you get so smart? By eating it with crackers and milk?

Curmudgeon December 27, 2006 8:11 pm (Pacific time)

Maybe YOU have never heard of it, but it's no secret to a lot of other people. You also conveniently ignore the fact that included in that 500 are "newborns and adults with weakened immune systems," regardless of gender. It is not a female specific killer, and there is nothing to indicate that women are a disproportionate number of the fatalities. And a majority of those 500 probably picked it up from food in their own home. You also don't seem to grasp that 500 deaths in a population of 300 million is a microscopically small number. About 30 times that many people die each year from falls.

IM Woman December 27, 2006 1:25 am (Pacific time)

I hope this information is being given to all pregnant moms!! 500 deaths in one year and we have never heard of it, but the bird flu has killed HOW many people and the whole world is going bats? 500! Oh, but they're mearly women, so why fuss the news about it? Real responsible DHS! NOT!

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