OREGON: King of clean
Posted: April 18th, 2011 - 11:23am
Source: East Oregonian
Rustin “Rusty” Rock is nosy, but that’s his job.
Rock, 39, is a food safety specialist for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Based in Pendleton, he inspects food processing plants, home-based commercial kitchens, large grocery stores and convenience stores from Arlington to Joseph.
One of his peers from Ontario inspects in La Grande, but Rock covers the remainder of Union County.
“I try not to cross over into the police world,” he said. “It’s educating the public on the various aspects of food safety.”
Rock conducts unannounced visits, donning a white laboratory coat as he steps out of his state vehicle. Although his coat and his ball cap identify him as a state employee, he flashes his ID card to an employee before beginning his inspection.
Earlier this week, he visited The Station, Heller & Sons’ convenience store in Hermiston. Plucking a probing thermometer from his coat pocket, Rock poked the point into a few hot dogs rotating on a self-serve roller rack.
He noted the temperature, which was below 130 degrees, and advised manager Ron Gibbs, who turned up the heat. Rock said the state advises hot food should be above 130 degrees, while county inspectors, who cover restaurants and food trucks, require hot food to be at least 135 degrees.
“I always encourage people to go hotter,” he said.