Vacancy Announcement

Part Time Housekeeper

 

 

Salary Grade:

51

Hourly Rate:

$ 15.50 ( 25 HOURS PER WEEK)

Closing Date:

Open Until Filled

Position Number:

Not Provided

Location:

Rutherford County Health Department (Spindale, NC)

Description of Work:

• This position will follow the building cleaning schedule as assigned by immediate supervisor.
• The schedule includes but is not limited to cleaning and maintaining floors, sweeping/mopping patient clinic rooms, sweeping/mopping front lobby, garbage collection and disposal. Vacuuming when needed in office areas, clean, sanitize and stock ALL six (6) restrooms. Clean inside and outside windows as needed, keep parking lot clean and trash free. Clean kitchen and stock with cleaning supplies and stock cups and paper towels.
• Advise Finance officer when cleaning supplies need to be ordered.

Minimum Education And Experience:

Education and/or experience in housekeeping work that is directly related to the job and consistent with accepted practices of the trade.

Necessary Special Qualifications:

Knowledge of cleaning procedures. Ability to follow verbal and written instructions. Ability to perform medium to heavy physical work. Ability to work effectively with the public, co-workers and patients. Ability to maintain patient confidentiality. Must be pleasant, courteous and thoughtful around clients/patients.

 

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to the Foothill Health District Personnel Department, 221 Callahan-Koon Road, Spindale, NC 28160. Applications can be downloaded at www.foothillshd.org. Completed applications and resumes can be e-mailed to csnyder@foothillshd.org or faxed to (828) 287-6059. Open until filled.

 

 

 

Vacancy Announcement

Public Health Nurse III (Clinical Supervisor)

Clinical Services

 

Salary Grade:

70

Salary Range:

$ 43,190 – $ 57,832 (hiring range)

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Position Number:

Not Provided

Location:

Rutherford County, NC

Description of Work:

• This position will be responsible for supervising 8 Nurses (RN’s and LPN’S) and 2 part-time nurses.
• Works with staff to keep them up to date on program requirements and any changes that take place. Assists staff with program related issues. Contacts State consultant for program related issues. Assists the Nursing Director with annual preparation of contract addenda.
• Responsible for creating schedules for Nursing staff and posting it electronically with other departments as needed.
• Ensures that nurses are meeting hours required to maintain certifications. Authorizes and informs staff of upcoming workshops and continuing education opportunities.
• Reviews, signs and submits time and travel sheets to Finance Officer by the 5th of each month.
• Ensures each person has time available to take before approving time off requests. Ensures that there is enough staff to cover during time off requests.
• Conducts performance reviews for probationary period employees and annual performance reviews for the nursing staff.
• Participates in the structured interview process for hiring within a program. Makes recommendations for hiring; manages departmental staff; works collectively with the Nursing Director and Personnel Director regarding disciplinary issues. Provides quality supervision to ensure to support the staff and ensures performance measures are met.
• Will help with General Clinics/Intake as needed.

Minimum Education And Experience:

Graduation from a four-year college or university with a B.S. in Nursing which includes a Public Health Nursing rotation and two years of Public Health nursing experience; or a Master’s in Public Health and graduation from a school of professional nursing and two years of professional nursing experience; or graduation from a school of professional nursing and three years of professional nursing experience including two years of Public Health nursing experience; or an equivalent combination of training and experience.

Necessary Special Qualifications:

Considerable knowledge and skill in the administration and organization of a Public Health program; considerable knowledge of public health nursing supervision of staff and programs; considerable knowledge of the resources and organizations concerned with public health work in North Carolina and current social and economic problems pertaining to public health; general knowledge of public health administration on the local level; general knowledge of educational methods and training techniques; working knowledge of State and federal laws relating to public health. Ability to plan, coordinate and supervise the work of others and to present findings, comments, and opinions clearly and concisely in oral and/or written form; ability to exercise good judgment in appraising situations and making decisions; ability to plan and execute work effectively and to deal tactfully with the public and other health professionals.

 

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to the Foothill Health District Personnel Department, 221 Callahan-Koon Road, Spindale, NC 28160. Applications can be downloaded at www.foothillshd.org. Completed applications and resumes can be e-mailed to csnyder@foothillshd.org or faxed to (828) 287-6059. Open until filled. Equal Opportunity Employer

 

 

 

Vacancy Announcement

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST

Environmental Health Division
ON-SITE WATER PROTECTION PROGRAM

 

Salary Grade:

68

Salary Range:

Based on experience

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Position Number:

Not Provided

Location:

District (Rutherford and McDowell Counties)

Description of Work:

• Performs new site evaluations for both septic systems and private drinking water wells.
• Issue or deny permits based on compliance with N.C. Rules and Regulations.
• Perform final inspections of permitted systems during and after the construction process.
• Perform well grout inspections and final well head evaluations to determine compliance with N.C. Rules and Regulations.
• Collect private drinking water well samples.
• Provide consultation as needed to contractors and property owners for problems encountered during septic and well installation.
• Issue Operation permits for septic systems and wells upon verification of all installation requirements.
• Inspect existing systems for additions/expansions and re-connections.
• Investigate complaints concerning septic systems and private water supplies and other public health related matters.
• Other duties as assigned by Environmental Health Director.

Minimum Education And Experience:

Graduation from a four-year college or university with 30 semester hours of course work in the physical or biological sciences and two years of exposure in environmental health; or a four-year or Master’s degree in environmental health from a program which is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Environmental Health Curricula of the National Environmental Health Association and one year of experience in environmental health.

Necessary Special Qualifications:

Registration as an environmental health specialist; or eligibility for registration as an environmental health specialist by the NC State Board of Environmental Health Specialist Examiners.

 

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to the Foothill Health District Personnel Department, 221 Callahan-Koon Road, Spindale, NC 28160. Applications can be downloaded at www.foothillshd.org. Completed applications and resumes can be e-mailed to csnyder@foothillshd.org or faxed to (828) 287-6059.

 

 

 

Immunizations

One of the most significant achievements in medicine is the control of infectious diseases through immunization. In addition to preventing thousands of deaths, vaccination programs have proven to be a cost-effective means of disease prevention. A number of infectious diseases that used to regularly kill or harm infants, children, and adults have been greatly reduced or eliminated due to vaccines in the United States. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases still exist and you are still at risk if you don’t receive an appropriate vaccination.

 

There Are Ways to Prevent Disease for You and Your Loved Ones

It Is Very Safe To Get Vaccines

  • Tests and monitoring are performed on vaccines. Before a vaccine can be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has to undergo years of testing. The CDC and FDA keep track of all licensed vaccines to ensure their safety.
  • It is not uncommon for vaccine side effects to last a few days. Side effects common to these shots include soreness, redness, or swelling.  Severe side effects are uncommon.
  • It is one of the safest ways to protect your health to get vaccinated. Depending on your health or other conditions, speak with your doctor about which vaccines are safe for you to receive.

Certain diseases can be prevented by vaccination. 

Vaccines help you develop immunity to disease by working with your body’s natural defenses. This lowers your chances of getting certain diseases and suffering from their complications. For instance:

  • You are less likely to develop liver cancer if you receive the Hepatitis B vaccine.
  • An HPV vaccination reduces cervical cancer risk.
  • Influenza vaccines lower the risk of flu-related heart attacks, diabetes complications, and chronic lung disease complications.

Appointments

Clinic visits are by appointment only. If you do not have an appointment please contact one of our offices. 

Other Resources:

Centers for Disease Control Birth – 18 Year Immunization Schedule

     https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html

 

 

 

Appointments at McDowell County Health Department

(828) 652-6811 

Appointments at Rutherford County Health Department

(828) 287-6100 option #2

Vacancy Announcement

Nutritionist II

WIC Program

 

Salary Grade:

66

Salary Range:

$ 35,532 – $ 46,193

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Position Number:

Not Provided

Location:

Rutherford County (Spindale, NC)

Description of Work:

• The nutritionist’s primary role is to provide nutrition services to clients eligible for the Women, Infant, and Children Special Supplemental Food Program (WIC) in Rutherford and McDowell Counties. These services include certifying for WIC program eligibility, direct nutrition education, counseling, making referrals, outreach, and consultation with health care providers as needed.
• This position will interview and assess clients by collecting appropriate data, evaluating the client’s current and past Anthropometric (height, weight, BMI, birth weight, birth length, parental BMI), Biochemical (hemoglobin, blood lead), Clinical and Medical history (pregnancy history, substance abuse, medical conditions, medications, immunizations, and other information), Dietary (concerns, food availability, appropriate foods and practices for age, special diet, food safety, dietary supplements, oral health, and intake).
• Develop a plan of care along with client.
• Assign appropriate food packages.
• Motivate clients to change nutrition behaviors, being able to communicate nutrition information in a manner clients can understand and use, especially when low-literacy or non-English speaking.
• Provide basic breastfeeding information to all prenatal clients at their initial WIC nutrition assessment appointment with nutritionist.

Minimum Education And Experience:

Registered Dietitian with the Commission on Dietetics Registration; or Master’s degree in Dietetics, Public Health Nutrition, or Nutrition; or graduation from a Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education- approved Didactic Program in Dietetics and two years nutrition experience; or Dietetic Technician, Registered with the Commission on Dietetics Registration with a Bachelor’s degree in any subject area from an accredited four-year college or university and two years nutrition experience; or a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Dietetics, Public Health Nutrition or Community Nutrition from an accredited four-year college or university and two years nutrition experience.

Necessary Special Qualifications:

Specialized knowledge and skill in comprehensive nutrition assessment and care planning, including problem diagnosis, counseling, and evaluation of clients from diverse backgrounds, ages, and with multiple and complex health and therapeutic nutritional needs. Knowledge of human behavior and techniques for effecting behavior change with considerable skill in counseling. Broad knowledge in health care ethics, documentation in the medical record, and quality assurance. Knowledge in organization of community health and nutrition resources. Sophisticated knowledge of current scientific information regarding nutrition, diet, and health and the ability to relate this information to clients, professionals, and the general public. Skill in conducting a nutrition education or community needs assessment. Fundamental knowledge of current principles and practices of public health, and program coordination. Ability to interpret policy and protocols into operational procedures and work priorities. Skill in organizing and coordinating the work of others. Full range of skill in presenting ideas orally and in writing in a clear, concise manner.

 

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to the Foothill Health District Personnel Department, 221 Callahan-Koon Road, Spindale, NC 28160. Applications can be downloaded at www.foothillshd.org. Completed applications and resumes can be e-mailed to csnyder@foothillshd.org or faxed to (828) 287-6059. Open until filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q: Jason. I’ve got a question. I read ALL your articles, and I’m not sure how I feel about you using my name all the time as an example. I mean, just because I’ve got a big burly beard and I work at a restaurant doesn’t mean I’m so gross. I’m just a person, same as you. By the way, what’s the problem with beards? What is the length of beard that is OK to have? I think you’ve got something against people with hair just because you’re bald… And why did you take points off of our inspection for having our cell phones and cigarettes laying on the prep table? We don’t have much time to smoke, and we need to keep our materials close by. I’ve seen you in my restaurant before, and I’ll be waiting for YOU in the parking lot…
-Bubba

Image of bearded man grabbing pull up bar/  (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

A: Wow…well Bubba, those are good questions, and I’m hoping we can settle this without coming to blows. A beard and/or hair restraint is something that the 2017 NC food code requires all food employees engaged in food preparation to wear. Does that mean that everyone is going to wear one? Nope. Not gonna happen. But before we answer your questions, we need to look a little deeper as to why hair restraints are required in the first place, and why it’s not OK to leave your smokes and cell phones all over the prep tables.

The hair restraint requirement is, despite its name, not as much about keeping hair out of foods, as it is discouraging food employees from touching their face, head and body. Think about all the things on your head and face for a second… hairspray, gel, conditioner, did you work out before coming to work? Got some tasty sweat up there? Did you take a shower today? Sometimes people don’t… Remember that parking lot you were walking through earlier, where that guy was blowing leaves and stirring up dust? Remember how you cursed at him for blowing dirt in your face while he was laughing? (*Smug jerk with his safety glasses and orange vest*) Think any of that dirt and dust got trapped in your hair (and/or beard)? What about those crumbs from that chicken sandwich you got at the mall while you shopping for some new kicks? Remember how they stayed in your beard after you dunked that last fry in the ketchup? Mmmm. Well, all those hair products, sweat, dust, dirt, crumbs, and whatever else you can think of cause your head and face to itch. And what happens when you itch? You scratch! And what happens when you scratch? You contaminate your hands! And what happens when you contaminate your hands? Unless you wash immediately, you’re going to contaminate food, or cleaned utensils, or single service items, or whatever. And of course, while we realize that wearing a hair and/or beard restraint won’t stop you from itching, it may at least prevent you from contaminating your hands or gloves. The food code does not specify a particular length of beard that is acceptable. It simply states that exposed hair must be restrained by clothing, hats, nets, chefs hats, sombreros, etc. (OK I added the chefs hats and sombreros, but I’d be cool with that). Some establishments have a policy that allows them to have a particular length of exposed hair or beard, however, the policy of any establishment does not trump the NC food code. Now I’m not trying to be a Grumpy Gus here, but if we see you without a restraint, we are going to mark it. Go ahead and get some big, burly beard restraints. Now with all that being said, while finding a hair in your food is sometimes appetite-killing, it’s probably not going to make you sick. (I mean sick from foodborne illness, not grossed out…) BUT, finding a hair in your food is one thing… realizing you have one in your mouth, and feeling it unwind around your teeth, through whatever glob of food you are chewing, and across your tongue is a sensory experience that one must live through to truly appreciate.

Now before we get into the other part of your question Bubba, let’s talk about something else related to hand washing. If you’ve been an avid reader of my past articles, you are already familiar with the importance of handwashing. And unless you’ve been in Lake Diefenbaker for the past 25 years, you are undoubtedly familiar with that sign in all the restaurant restrooms that specifically mentions how all employees are required to wash their hands using soap and warm water before leaving the restroom. That’s not just a suggestion, that’s part of the NC food code. Now, what I want to talk about for a second is the other part of that requirement. The hand drying part. Seems like everyone forgets about that part (or just doesn’t care). The hand drying rule states that an approved method for drying hands must be in place at every hand wash sink. That means you have to have paper towels, or an air dryer, or napkins to dry your hands. One study (shown here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538484/#:~:text=care%E2%80%93associated%20infections.-,The%20proper%20drying%20of%20hands%20after%20washing%20should%20be%20an,contamination%20of%20the%20washroom%20environment ) indicates that drying your hands with paper towels is the most effective method. In fact, a 95% reduction of Staph Aureus was measured just after rinsing with water and drying with a paper towel! This indicates that just the simple friction of hands on paper towels produces significant results (in your favor!) when it comes to reducing the number of active bacteria on your hands. That’s a lot.
Your REO Speedwagon shirt (although awesome) is not an approved hand drying device. Your Levi 501 jeans are not an approved hand drying device. It is already well known throughout the scientific community that wet hands are more likely to spread bacteria and viruses. Think of it this way…you know when you’re at the beach, and you come splashing out of the ocean from a hardcore session of body surfing, and just as you fall on that vintage Thundercats (HOOOOO!) beach towel you reach up to wipe the salty ocean water out of your eyes, but you realize that your hands are covered with sand? Well, that’s the same thing that happens when you don’t properly dry your hands after washing. All that sand? Might as well be bacteria and viruses. Keep that in mind the next time you go down to Myrtle Beach…

Alright, now let’s get to the other part of your question… Why can’t you leave your personal items on or above prep areas? What’s the big deal? This is actually pretty self-explanatory, and, I get it… It’s easy and convenient to leave your stuff where you can grab it when you need it. Makes perfect sense. The problem isn’t so much where it IS, as where it’s BEEN. Let’s think about this for a second. Where do you normally keep your cell phone and cigarettes? Probably in your pocket or purse. What else is in there? Keys, cash, Chapstick, credit cards, dirt, hair, glass eye…could be anything. All those things have the potential to contaminate each other, and consequently, you. And let’s be honest, OK? We all take our cell phones places that we probably shouldn’t. I’m talking about the gym… or…other places… (you know what I’m talking about). In fact, a pretty recent article in TIME magazine (http://time.com/4908654/cell-phone-bacteria/) has indicated that a study performed at the University of Arizona found ten times more bacteria on cell phones than the average toilet seat. That’s pretty gross. Now with all that being said, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get sick by talking to your granny when she calls to tell you “happy birthday”, but just as all those contaminants move from your environment to your personal stuff, so can those contaminants move from a cell phone to a cutting board or prep area. The best course of action is to leave all your stuff somewhere away from your workspace so you don’t get distracted and inadvertently contaminate everything you come in contact with. And keep this in mind, Bubba… When you have your cell phone on that prep table, listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn, and slicing prime rib, what happens when you get a text from your buddy with that gif of the cat knocking things off the table? I know what I would do…I would look at my phone! So would you! Great, you just contaminated your hands again. Are you going to wash? That sink is all the way across the kitchen…. Nobody is looking, so you say forget it, and keep on cutting while the image of that cat pushing the remote off the shelf lingers in your head, and you just stand there… chuckling, slicing, and contaminating every bite of that moist meat… Yum.
Stay safe, friends!

North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program

Women in North Carolina who qualify for the North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (NC BCCCP) receive free or low-cost screening for breast and cervical cancer.  Over 12,000 women are served by NC BCCCP every year.

NC BCCCP services are offered at the offices of the Foothills Health District.

Breast Cancer

When abnormal cells grow out of control, it is called cancer. Cancers are named after the part of the body where the abnormal cell growth begins. Breast cancers are small cancer cells from the breast. Breast cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body are called metastatic.

North Carolina’s second-leading cause of cancer death among women is breast cancer. In North Carolina, over 6,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and over 1,000 die from it. There is an eight-to-one lifetime risk of breast cancer among North Carolina women.

Cervical Cancer

It is called cervical cancer when it starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. Also known as the womb, the uterus is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. The cervix connects the upper part of the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

Each year more than 350 North Carolina women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 100 die from the condition. The majority of these deaths occur in women over age 45.

Eligibility

You are eligible for BCCCP Services if you:

  • are uninsured or underinsured;
  • are without Medicare Part B or Medicaid;
  • are between ages 40 – 64 for breast screening services and 21 – 64 for cervical screening services; and
  • have a household income below 250% of the federal poverty level.

Services Offered

  • Cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests, HPV tests)
  • Clinical breast exams
  • Screening mammograms
  • Diagnostic procedures, as indicated (diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, colposcopies, breast and cervical biopsies)
  • Medical consultations

Appointments

Clinic visits are by appointment only. If you do not have an appointment please contact one of our offices. 

Other Resources:

North Carolina Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (NC BCCCP)

     https://bcccp.ncdhhs.gov/

 

 

 

Appointments at McDowell County Health Department

(828) 652-6811 

Appointments at Rutherford County Health Department

(828) 287-6100 option #2

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q: Dear Jason, my boyfriend insists upon grabbing raw hamburger and chicken with his bare hands before throwing it on the grill, and then wiping his hands on his pants or shirt before moving on to prepare salads. I have begged him to wash his hands in between. He says it’s no big deal, I say he’s crazy. Please help us settle this argument.
-Cindy

A: Wow. I hope your boyfriend doesn’t work at a restaurant, Cindy. (If he does, you can let me know where in a separate email…*wink*)This reminds me of “The Curious Case of Sam and Ella’s Chicken Shack”* (see what I did there?). After receiving several complaints of bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food (which incidentally is the #1 thing that grosses me out, and is the subject of an entire forthcoming article) at this establishment, we made a few site visits and determined that several employees were, in fact, handling food with bare hands. After speaking to Chef Nora Firus*, it was discovered that employees had never been informed about the dangers of handling food with bare hands.  To really understand why this is so important, we have to know a little about the microbiology of the organisms we mainly deal with when handling foods:

Norovirus-Commonly called stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States. It is commonly spread by infected food service workers who touch ready-to-eat foods, or cleaned utensils. You can become infected with norovirus by getting feces or vomit from an infected person in your mouth…think about that for a second. We are talking about the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., and one of the major transmission routes is fecal-oral… Watch what foods go into your mouth, and WASH. YOUR. HANDS, KIDS. And if you happen to work at a food service establishment, if you think you have norovirus, go to the doctor, and DON’T GO TO WORK!

Salmonella-One of the most prolific bacteria strains in existence. Salmonella is currently the leading cause of food borne illness in the United States. Salmonella is found mainly on chicken, but can also be found on other raw meats. It can be killed by proper cooking, and salmonellosis can be prevented by washing hands before and after handling raw foods, and keeping utensils clean and separated.

Escherichia Coli O157:H7-Commonly known as E. Coli, this bacteria produces a toxin called Shiga toxin. A common complication with E. Coli is Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (try saying that three times fast). The toxin can destroy red blood cells, and cause injury to the kidneys. E. Coli exists naturally in the gut of warm blooded animals (including you!) and can be spread from the feces of infected people and animals (that whole handwashing thing should be starting to make sense now, huh?) An E. Coli infection can be prevented by properly washing hands, and by avoiding the consumption of undercooked GROUND beef (sorry Pierre, no tartare today) but it is important to note that bacteria cannot live in whole muscle, so that delicious medium-rare ribeye is perfectly safe.
This is only a small list of bacteria and viruses that cause food borne illnesses. A simple google search will turn up many, many results, so make sure to get your information from a reputable source. (FDA, USDA, CDC, etc).
Back to our bare-handing friends at Sam and Ella’s… Per the NC food code manual, it is required that food employees do not touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands. Hand washing alone does not remove enough of the bacteria and viruses from your hands to allow bare hand contact with ready to eat food products. Gloves are acceptable (as long as they are used correctly), and utensils can be used so long as they do not contribute to possible contamination, (this means you can’t grab cooked chicken off the grill with the same pair of tongs you used to pull it out of the marinade of Italian dressing…yes, that’s all it is…). Employees are further required to wash their hands before donning gloves, and when switching tasks. This means you can’t go from making sandwiches to taking out the trash, to grabbing the fryer baskets, to sweeping up the spilled chips from some snotty-nosed kid, and back to making sandwiches with the same gloves. It is required of a food establishment to inform employees of their responsibility to relate information about their health and activities, as they relate to diseases that are transmissible through food, to a person in charge (PIC). It is then the duty of the PIC to reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness transmission through asking for more information, watching for symptoms of illness (vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, etc), or more commonly, restricting or excluding the employee from work.  So, what should you do if you are at a restaurant and see a food service worker handling food with bare hands?

1. Don’t eat the food! It is ultimately your decision as to what you put in your own body. Hopefully you can make an informed decision about where you eat using the sanitation rating that should be hanging in your favorite restaurant. (We will talk more about sanitation ratings in another issue…) If you don’t see a sanitation rating hanging in plain view, you might want to ask yourself, “why?” This should be a good indication of the practices of this food establishment.

2. Ask to speak to a manager or person in charge. Explain to them what you have seen and why you are deciding not to eat the food they are serving. It is a manager’s job to make sure that the food that is being served at their restaurant is not only delicious, but also safe.

3. Submit a complaint to the food and lodging division of the environmental health department. It can be anonymous. It is our job to speak to people about food safety. We do it every day.

So, to answer your question, Cindy, you are correct…your boyfriend is crazy. Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

And remember, most of these illness won’t kill you… but they might make you wish you were dead…

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent*

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q: Dear Jason,
Hey Jason, I have a question about snow. I know you are not a meteorologist or anything, but can you tell me if it is safe to eat snow? I have a 4-year-old grandson, and he won’t stop shoveling snow in his mouth! Should I be worried?
-Carol

Well, Carol, that’s a great question, and one I’m glad you brought up at such a special time of the year. You know, when I was growing up, I remember standing with my brothers at the front window of our house, all of us jumping up and down, pointing at the snow, and yelling for my mom to open the door so we could go out there in it. She would help us get on our snow suits, and send us out, watching us run around, trying to catch falling snow on our tongues. Sometimes we would bring in big bowlfuls of snow and she would help us make snow cream. It was a family tradition for all of us kids (and usually the grown-ups, too!) to run outside on New Year’s Day, grab big handfuls of snow, and eat till we couldn’t eat anymore. The layer of clean, pure white snow would blanket our whole house and yard, and I remember how the barely visible red bows on the fence posts would cast a slight reddish-pink contrast on the crisp shell of the snow. After our hands were freezing and wet, we would go warm up by the fire that my dad built before he left for work, and have mugs of hot chocolate, and my mom would explain to us that the snow signified a blank canvas for the coming year…one we could fill with experiences and memories and whatever else we wanted, and by eating it on New Year’s Day, we were opening ourselves up to whatever possibility may present itself in the coming year. It was a wonderful tradition, and one my family carries on today.

But, to answer your question, we need to know a little bit about why eating snow might be dangerous to our health. *SPOILER ALERT*-it’s not the snow you need to be worried about…If you are familiar with my articles, you already know about hot and cold holding, why it’s important, and keeping food for appropriate times, and discarding food after a certain length of time, but if this is your first time, here it is in a nutshell…to be safe, foods must be maintained at 135 degrees F or above, or if they are maintained at 41 degrees F or below, they may be held for 7 days. After this time, however, they should be discarded. Now, with all that being said, why should we discard these foods after this amount of time, and what in the world does this have to do with eating snow?!?

Well first, let’s take a look at the most obvious reasons that eating snow off the ground might be dangerous. Got any dogs in your neighborhood? Dogs don’t usually use a public restroom, and rarely (if ever) stop to let you know that nature is calling. Let’s think of some other things that might be on the ground…dirt, rocks, lead paint chips… What if the snow is on top of a failing septic system? What if the snow is on the road that DOT just sprayed with salt solution and sand? What if Uncle Adam was just out smoking a cigarette, and dropped his cigarette butt and ashes right there? (Have you ever accidentally picked up a drink that someone used as an ashtray? I have…its gross…especially when that cigarette butt plinks off your teeth…ugh) Would you eat a cheeseburger that fell on the ground? (and don’t give me any of that “5 second rule” stuff…) If the answer is “no”, then why in the world would you think it would be OK to eat snow off that same ground?!? Ok…I think you get the point here.

Let’s talk for a minute about psychrophilic bacteria. Psychrophilic bacteria are cold-loving organisms that thrive in temperatures ranging from around 32 to 77 degrees F. Remember when I told you to throw food away after 7 days at 41 degrees F or below? Well this is why. Meet Listeria monocytogenes. This guy loves to hang around in your fridge and make you sick, especially if your foods are not maintained at safe temperatures. And guess what? Listeria loves the same foods you do! Deli meats! Hot Dogs! Soft cheeses! Sprouts! Cantaloupe! Seriously, who doesn’t love these foods?!? Now, Listeria is not the only psychrophile, but based on information about the growth phases of Listeria, the NC food code recommends discarding foods after 7 days. After that amount of time has passed, the amount of harmful bacteria on food can be enough to make someone sick. Listeria is especially happy to find a fridge that hasn’t been cleaned in a while…. You know that black stuff in the corners in the back?…Yeah, that’s gonna be a great spot for listeria to set up shop. This brings me back to the snow…temperatures have to be pretty low outside for snow to hang around. Listeria is widely found in the environment…It can live in soil, water, decaying vegetation (remember those leaves you told your significant other you were going to rake last fall, but then you got busy, ’cause, you know…life…and now they are just hanging out under all that beautiful snow, decaying and providing food for the grass that will be so lush in the spring…?) Sounds to me like conditions are just right for Listeria to start multiplying.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t build a snowman, or a snow angel, or an igloo, or make your neighbors take a snowball to the face. I’m just letting you know that if your kid (or grandkid) is dying to eat some snow, then do the little guy a favor, and get it from somewhere ABOVE THE GROUND! And maybe it’s time to let that winter-warmer recipe for your (in)famous sprout/cantaloupe salad with bologna chunks and a warm queso topping to go back in the drawer (or in the trash…)

Stay warm and enjoy winter, friends!

SNOW CREAM

1) Gather a big bowl of fresh, CLEAN snow. You will need a big bowl, and it will need to be nice and full.
2) Stir in one 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk. You may have to adjust amount according to how much snow you have.
3) Add a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. (Or go crazy and add some other flavor like orange!)
4. Mix up and add some toppings like sprinkles or chocolate syrup and enjoy!

Press Release 
December 30, 2021

 

Press Release from Foothills Public Health regarding COVID19 recommendations from the CDC and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Please click here to view the press release (PDF)

 

McDowell County COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Hotline

(828) 803-4552

Rutherford County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

(828) 287-6100