CALIFORNIA: He enforces standards for restaurants, pools
Posted: September 29th, 2010 - 7:15am
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
When restaurant workers don't handle food properly, food-prep surfaces aren't sanitized, or pest-control protocols go lax, there's a risk of food-borne illness or contamination.
Antonio Gholar, a health inspector with the Alameda County Environmental Health Department, monitors those violations every day, working with restaurants and other food purveyors in Piedmont, Montclair and Jack London Square. He also inspects public swimming pools.
Gholar, 36, was raised in Louisiana and moved to California in 2000. He lives in Benicia with his wife of three years, Anita, and their 2-year-old son, Antonio Cole.
He spoke during a routine inspection of an Oakland family restaurant and ice cream parlor. Gholar began in the open-air kitchen, where burgers were frying under an enormous stainless steel hood.
My inventory consists of 389 food and pool facilities with a goal of four inspections each per year. That includes restaurants, delis, supermarkets, food vendors on carts and in trucks, special/temporary events, swimming pool programs, food banks and summer food-service programs.
The violations I see vary from facility to facility, based on the type of operations. Lack of hair restraints for food handlers is a common violation, but food-temperature violations are the most common. Cold foods have to be kept at 40 degrees or lower and hot foods at 135 degrees or higher.
All food-prep surfaces have to be sanitized at least once every four hours. There are three types of food sanitizers: chlorine, iodine and quaternary ammonia. Here they use quaternary ammonia, which has to be 20 parts per million.
The first thing I do on an inspection is check that the health permit and safety certification are current. I also check that the restrooms are properly ventilated, that hot water in hand-washing sinks reaches 100 degrees, that employees don't wear gloves as a replacement for hand-washing.
I look to see that raw foods aren't stored on top of ready-to-eat products, that rodent traps are set outdoors around Dumpsters, that storage units are at least 6 inches off the floor and 6 inches from the wall.
Some inspections take one to two hours. If it's a clean facility, it could be 35 to 40 minutes.