Thursday, February 1, 2018

Superbowl food safety

Tackling a buffet at your Super Bowl gathering? Practice these game rules and keep the runs on the field.
Super Bowl Sunday is an American tradition of football, friends, and food. In fact, it's a daylong food fest, that—next to Thanksgiving Day—is the second largest day for food consumption in the United States. While chicken wings, chips, and dips are consistent favorites on Super Bowl buffets, make sure that germs are a "no-show" by following these six tips to avoid food poisoning.
1. Keep it clean.
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water (warm or cold) for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, and handling food—especially after passing the TV's germy remote control! Also wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Rinse produce[362 KB] under running water, including those with inedible skins and rinds. For firm-skin fruits and vegetables, rub by hand or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing.
2. Cook it well.
  • Use a food thermometer to test Super Bowl party favorites, like chicken wings and ground beef sliders, and any other meat or microwaved dishes on your menu.
    • Make sure chicken wings (and any other poultry dish) reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and ground beef sliders reach 160°F.3
  • Refer to the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for the "rest time" of meats—the period after cooking when the temperature remains constant or continues to rise and destroys germs.
    • Good news for your super hungry guests: chicken wings and ground beef sliders don't require rest times!
Divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in a refrigerator or freezer until the party begins. This encourages rapid, even cooling…and discourages pre-party nibblers
3. Keep it safe.
  • Hold hot foods at 140°F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep food hot on the buffet table.
  • Maintain cold foods , like salsa and guacamole, at 40°F or colder. Nest serving dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays. Replace often.
4. Watch the time.
5. Avoid mix-ups.
  • Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods, like veggies, when preparing, serving, or storing foods.
  • Offer guests serving utensils and small plates to discourage them from eating directly from the bowls with dips and salsa.
  • Throw a penalty flag at double-dippers (folks who repeatedly eat or dip from a shared food dish)!
6. Get it to-go.
  • Discard any foods on the buffet for two hours or more.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate.
  • Don't wait too long to enjoy your leftovers. Refrigerate them for three to four days, at most. Freeze them, if you won't be eating your leftovers sooner.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Let's Talk Turkey: Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

The Thanksgiving meal is the largest many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. Follow these tips to make sure your Thanksgiving meal is both delicious and safe to serve.

Steps to follow before cooking a turkey:
·    Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
·    Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
·    Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended.
Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:
·    Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
·    Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
·    Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
·    Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
·    Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food:
·    Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
·    Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 41 °F to 135 °F).
·    Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
·    Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
·    Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.

Call today to see to schedule a free food safety class.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Free Food Safety Class

     The Pueblo City-County Health Department will be putting on a free food safety class for the public.  Join us on October 10, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.  RSVP today at 719-583-4307. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Chili Roaster

It’s green chile season in Pueblo! All the local farms are harvesting Pueblo chile, firing up their roasters and chile is in the air.  Since numerous people make green chile and use it all year, it’s likely you will purchase bushels of chile and prepare them for frozen storage. Roasted chiles are a potentially hazardous food and will be hot upon purchase.  It is essential you follow rapid cooling to prepare roasted green chiles for storage. Roasted green chiles must be processed and cooled right away.  Once rapid cooling has been accomplished you can cold hold chiles or freeze them for long-term storage to enjoy all year.

Whether you prefer mild or hot, you can select and process chiles safely to add spice to your meals.  For safety and quality, follow these tips:
  • Roasted chiles should be put in a food-grade plastic bag (not a trash bag), or other food-safe container.
  • Take chiles home in a chilled ice chest within 2 hours of roasting.
  • Within 2 hours of roasting, peppers should be cooled to 70° and then to 41° in an additional 4 hours (cold holding temperature) in an ice bath or refrigerator.  Divide into small batches for quick cooling and use a food thermometer to confirm.
  • To freeze, pack chiles in plastic bags, heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Remove excess air.
  • Freeze chiles to 0°F immediately after packing. Leave a little space between packages for air circulation.
  • Label and date packages.
  • Bacteria can live during freezer storage.  So thaw chiles in a refrigerator! Bacteria can revive, grow and cause an illness.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Illegal Food Vendors on the Rise

Illegal Food Vendors on the Rise

The Pueblo City-County Health Department, is cracking down on illegal food vendors.  An Illegal food vendor is considered to be any person or persons who are selling food without a required food license. 

Every legal food vendor is issued a Colorado state food license as well as a Colorado issued sticker. 

“Any resident can ask a food vendor for their food license because it is a requirement that they have it visible at all times.” Vicki Carlton, program manager at the Pueblo City-County Health Department said.

If the food vendor does not have a food license present, they are considered to be operating illegally. Purchasing from an illegal food vendor may put any person who buys from them at risk. 

“Illegal food vendors are not inspected and it is not known where or how they make their food,” stated Carlton. “Not knowing this information increases the possibility of foodborne illness.” 

If you spot an illegal food vendor, the department encourages you to report them as soon as possible by calling 719-583-4307.  



Friday, August 11, 2017

Back-to-School Food Safety Tips

Back-to-School Food Safety Tips 

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F. In just two hours, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels, which can cause foodborne illness. To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those you pack for, you should follow the four steps to food safety: Clean – Separate – Cook – and Chill.
Packing Tips
  • If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources.  Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly so perishable food transported without an ice source won't stay safe long.
  • Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack.  By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag.
  • If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot - 135°F or above.
  • If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
  • If you’re responsible for packing snack for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.
Storage Tips
  • If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Eating and Disposal Tips
  • Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.
  • After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Service Animals

Definition of a Service Animal 

A service animal is defined as any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding people who are blind, alerting deaf individuals, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, and calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. For the purposes of this definition, the crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks. These animals are not recognized as service animals.

Areas Where Service Animals are Allowed in Retail Food Establishments 

Per section 8-106(B)(3) of the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations, service animals in retail food establishments are limited to areas that are open for customers, such as dining rooms and retail sales areas, provided that the contamination of food; clean equipment, utensils, and linens; and unwrapped single-use articles is controlled. The handler must be with the service animal at all times and may not go anywhere that food is prepared, including behind bars and in service areas. Individuals with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons or treated less favorably that other patrons. The retail food establishment staff is not responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal. When present, the service animal must be controlled by the handler via a leash, harness, or tether, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents the use of these devices. Should this be the case, the handler must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective means.” 

Inquiries Directed to Individuals with a Disability Who Use a Service Animal

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only the following inquiries shall be made:
  • Is this a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform? 
Public entities (including LPHAs) shall not require documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. 

Exclusion and Removal of a Service Animal 

A public entity may exclude or ask a handler to remove a service animal under certain circumstances. Circumstances in which a public entity may ask that service animal be removed include:

  • The animal displaying aggressive or vicious behavior or acting out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or 
  • The animal is not housebroken. 

This determination should be made on a case-by-case basis, and it is recommended that facilities document any incidents involving the exclusion of a service animal. Allergies and a fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. An animal may be excluded from the premises if an individual states that it is a service animal but cannot describe the task the animal is trained to perform. This decision is at the discretion of the facility. Additionally, a person with a disability may be asked to remove a service animal from the premises if the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. If an animal is properly excluded or removed from the premises, the public entity shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises. 

Emotional Support and Therapy Animals 

The ADA does not recognize dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support as service animals, because emotional support, well-being, comfort, and/or companionship do not constitute work or tasks. Although emotional support animals can be very valuable, it is primarily their presence for comfort or security that is beneficial to the person. Therapy animals provide animal contact to one or more people who may or may not have disabilities, such as hospital patients or residents in a nursing home, and are encouraged to socialize with other people while they are working. Although service animals are not pets and are typically trained not to socialize with people, a therapy animal could meet the definition of a service animal above in certain circumstances if it is also trained to perform a specific task for a single individual with a disability.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017



A true “Grill Master” always knows to clean, separate, cook and chill to ensure a pleasant cookout for all.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food or reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  • When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
  • If you partially cook food in the microwave, oven or stove to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
  • When it’s time to grill the food, cook it to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure. The food thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the meat and should not be touching bone, fat, or gristle. Check the temperature in several places to make sure the food is evenly heated.
    • Beef, veal and lamb steaks and roasts: 145 °F for medium rare and 160 °F for medium.
    • Ground pork and ground beef: 160 °F.
    • Poultry: to at least 165 °F.
    • Fin fish: 145 °F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
    • Shrimp, lobster and crabs: The meat should be pearly and opaque.
    • Clams, oysters and mussels: Until the shells are open.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.
  • Grilled food can be kept hot until serving by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to avoid overcooking.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature for more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).
If you have more questions or concerns about food safety, contact:
  • The Pueblo City-County Health Department at 719-583-4307 or visit the Dish Pueblo
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline at                             1- 888-MPHotline  (1-888-674-6854). TTY 1-800-256-7072.
  • The Fight BAC!® Web site at
  • Gateway to Government Food Safety Information at

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Newest Restaurant to meet Exceptional Food Safety Practices in Pueblo

Pueblo, CO – The Food Safety Program at the Pueblo City-County Health Department is proud to announce the continued growth of its Pueblo Partners in Food Safety program. The Pueblo Partners in Food Safety recognizes local restaurants with exceptional food safety practices, protocols, and health reports. The program launched in April 2015 with six facilities and has since grown to a total of 83. The newest Partner is Olive Garden Italian Restaurant.

We are happy to welcome Olive Garden Italian Restaurant as the newest Partner to this elite program,” stated Sylvia Proud, public health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department. Proud added, “The Health Department congratulates all restaurants that are Partners due to their hard work and dedication to health standards.  All restaurants are encouraged to apply; assistance is available with resources for program
enrollment, self-assessments and safe food handler training.” 

“The Pueblo Partners in Food Safety not only recognizes and promotes restaurants and food facilities but is also a tool to develop Active Managerial Control, a system to ensure steps for safe food handling are being followed,” explained Vicki Carlton, food safety program manager at the Pueblo City-County Health Department. Carlton added, “Active Managerial Control empowers food handlers to take control of risks and ensure operations remain safe.” Participating facilities conduct a self-assessment of practices and apply to join the program. The Pueblo City-County Health Department reviews and approves applications, allowing Partners to receive an official decal for their place of business, a certificate of approval and public recognition on The Dish of Pueblo website.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Farmer’s Markets in Pueblo County: What You Need to Know

Farmer’s Markets in Pueblo County: What You Need to Know

Farmer’s Markets are deemed as non-temporary special events by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and are regulated by local county health departments under guidelines set forth from CPDHE. All Farmer’s Markets in Pueblo County are inspected by the Pueblo City County Health Department (PCCHD); however, only the vendors processing (cooking, peeling, slicing, etc.) food items will require an inspection. At this time, there are no regulations regarding raw, uncut produce. Vendors preparing, holding, and selling potentially hazardous foods are not allowed at Farmer’s Markets unless they have a licensed brick and mortar, mobile unit, or offsite vendor. Mobiles must have current licenses and be completely enclosed with no equipment used outside of the unit. These units must also have power as well as hot and cold water under pressure. Chile Roasters may not by in an enclosed unit and must have a hand sink with soap and paper towels with hot and cold water under pressure. Follow the link for a list of Colorado Farmer's Markets.
Among the vendors may be individuals selling Cottage Foods, which are limited items made in an unlicensed kitchen. These items include spices, teas, jams, and certain baked goods.  Cottage Foods do not require a food license to be sold, but have a series of requirements that must be met before sales begin. A complete list of acceptable food items and requirements may be found on the Cottage Food Fact Sheet.  Pickled vegetables are currently not allowed under the Cottage Food Act, but rules and regulations are being developed currently. The Cottage Food Act has recently undergone some changes, so interested parties should keep an eye out for up-to-date resources on the CDPHE website. Contact PCCHD’s division of Environmental Health at 719-583-4307 for specific questions.