Vacancy Announcement

Public Health Nurse I

 

 

Salary Range:

$ 38,428 – $ 49,957 – $ 61,488 ( HIRING RANGE )

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Location:

McDowell county Health Department (Marion, NC)

Description of Work:

• Collects data for history and review of systems, collects laboratory specimens, and performs pregnancy testing.
• Functions in prenatal clinic by providing public health nursing services according to program guidelines.
• Collects data for history, interviews for problems, functions as a laboratory technician by collecting lab specimens by venipuncture, checking blood pressure, heights and weights and urine specimens. Instructs patient and educates to plan of care.
• Performs the duties of an Intake Nurse, (walk-ins, TB tests, head lice check, pregnancy tests, etc.)
• Administer immunizations according to CDC guidelines and ACIP recommendations.
• Answers all incoming telephone calls regarding all program areas when PHN is needed.
• Will assist in other clinics as needed.
• Other job duties as assigned.

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, or Master’s in Public Health and graduation from a school of professional nursing; or graduation from a school of professional nursing and one year of professional nursing experience; or an equivalent combination of training and experience. Must have a valid license issued by the N.C. Board of Nursing to practice as an RN in NC, CPR certification and a valid NC drivers license.

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to:

Foothills Health District
ATTN: Cindy Snyder (personnel@foothillshd.org) 828-287-6059 – FAX #
221 Callahan-Koon Road
Spindale, NC 28160.

Applications can be obtained from the Personnel Office or downloaded at www.foothillshd.org Resumes without an accompanying PD-107 will not be considered. This position will remain open until filled.

 

 

Vacancy Announcement

PROCESSING ASSISTANT III

 

 

Salary Grade:

57

Salary Range:

$23,589 – $29,603 – $37,744 (hiring range)

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Position Number:

535-04-512

Location:

McDowell County Health Department, Marion, NC

Description of Work:

• Performs a variety of tasks to the agency in as much as it is the first contact via telephone by the prospective patient with the clinic. Provides excellent customer/patient services via phone and in person; referring callers to the appropriate departments; making appointments for patients according to established Health Department protocols; assists patients/clients with forms. Checks patients out and collects payment.
• Performs day-to-day administrative functions and general office duties including but not limited to copying, filing, faxing, answering phones and data entry, pulls and files mastercards, pulls patient records, clinic records and files lab reports.
• Serves as Deputy Registrar with the process of death and birth certificates as outlined by Vital Records branch of the Department of Archives. Works with funeral homes, hospitals, and families to ensure timely processing documents.
• Verifies method of payment for service (Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, private payee,
• etc.) and collects data and/or payment as appropriate.
• Calls patients daily to confirm upcoming appointment.
• Must be a Notary Public or willing to become one.
• Other duties as outlined in the job description.

Minimum Education And Experience:

High school or GED is required. Minimum of one year of experience working in an office as an office assistant/secretary is required. Previous experience working in a busy medical office setting is preferred; or an equivalent combination of training and experience. Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration, Medical Secretary, or Business Administration is preferred.

Necessary Special Qualifications:

Basic everyday living skills, the ability to understand and follow directions as well as the ability to read, write, add and subtract. Vocational or business skills such as fax machines and computers. The ability to communicate effectively with the public and staff and maintain professional relationships with providers of services. Ability to maintain patient confidentiality.

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 personnel@foothillshd.org or faxed to (828) 287-6059.

 

 

Vacancy Announcement

Public Health Nurse II

$2500 SIGN-ON BONUS

Nurse Family Partnership

 

Salary Range:

$ 42,368 – $ 55,077 – $ 67,787

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Location:

Spindale, NC (travelling is required 75% of the time)

Description of Work:

• Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is an evidence-based, nurse home visiting program that improves the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of low-income, first-time parents and their children.
• Responsible for providing comprehensive community health nursing services to women and their families eligible for the NFP Program.
• Nurse Home Visitors (PHN II) enroll and coordinate services to a caseload of 25 first time, low-income, expectant mothers. Work requires specialized knowledge in the NFP mission, vision and visit guidelines.
• NFP Nurses are required to travel 75% of the time to make home visits.
• Considerable knowledge of and skill in the application of nursing theory, practices, principles and techniques in the application of providing comprehensive community health nursing services to women and their families.
• Considerable knowledge of available resources and organizations and the ability to coordinate these as needed.
• Ability to provide intensive preventive health and social services to women during their first pregnancy and to children birth to 2 years of age.

Minimum Education And Experience:

BSN Graduate and one year of Public Health Nursing experience is required ; or BSN graduate with one year of child health experience or one year of maternity experience. A current unrestricted license to practice as a Registered Nurse in North Carolina by the N.C. Board of Nursing and a valid unrestricted NC driver’s license.

Application Process:

To apply for this position, submit the required NC state application (PD-107) to:

Foothills Health District
ATTN: Cindy Snyder (csnyder@foothillshd.org)
221 Callahan-Koon Road
Spindale, NC 28160.

Applications can be obtained from the Personnel Office or downloaded at www.foothillshd.org Resumes without an accompanying PD-107 will not be considered. This position will remain open until filled. EOE.

 

 

 

Vacancy Announcement

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST

ON-SITE WATER PROTECTION PROGRAM

$ 2500 SIGN-ON BONUS FOR AN AUTHORIZED OSWW INSPECTOR!

 

Salary Grade:

68

Salary Range:

$ 40,349 – $52,456 – $ 64,560

Closing Date:

Open until filled

Location:

Rutherford County, NC

Description of Work:

• Perform adequately to become a NC REHS
• 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 Supervisor or 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. Open until filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2024 Holiday Schedule

New Year’s Day January 1, 2024 Monday
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday January 15, 2024 Monday
Good Friday March 29, 2024 Friday
Memorial Day May 27, 2024 Monday
Independence Day July 4, 2024 Thursday
Labor Day September 2, 2024 Monday
Veterans Day November 11, 2024 Monday
Thanksgiving November 28 & 29, 2024 Thursday & Friday
Christmas December 24, 25 & 26,2024 Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q:

Hi Jason, I love your “Ask A Health Inspector” series, and I am a long time reader (since the very beginning!). I have a question… Since summer is upon us, my kid is dying to get to the swimming pool, but I’m worried about recreational water illnesses. Is there something you can tell me that will ease my mind?
-Rachael

 

A

Hi Rachael! There are few things quite as refreshing in the hot summer months as taking a dip in the pool. The sun beating down, the sound of children’s laughter echoing through the park, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” on the teenagers radio, the cool drops spraying over you as that kid cannonballs into the deep end. Well you know what else could be spraying on you? Disease, that’s what.

Say hello to Cryptosporidium. (It’s VERY pleased to meet you) Also known as “Crypto” (not to be confused with Superman’s dog, Krypto…) this is a parasite that causes a disease known as cryptosporidiosis, and according to the CDC, it is the leading cause of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. In most healthy people, Cryptosporidiosis will produce a pretty significant bout of watery diarrhea, and will pass in a few weeks without medication. In immunocompromised individuals, and babies and the elderly, it can be a bit more threatening. Cryptosporidium has a tough, outer shell, and literally laughs at chlorine. OK, not literally, but normal concentrations of chlorine in most pools will not kill it.

So Jason, where does Crypto comes from?
Like many microorganisms, cryptosporidium occurs naturally, and enjoys the warm, comfy neighborhoods of animal and human intestines. Thick walled, sporulated oocysts (Sporulated means the undeveloped infective part of the organism is living inside the oocyst, and is waiting for the next victim…) exit the host through feces or sometimes through respiratory secretions (cough, cough), and typically hang around the pool like those kids whose parents drop them off in the morning and then pick them up in the evening…This is not a daycare, lady! Except crypto isn’t scared of the lifeguards, and totally does not clean up after itself. It’s outer shell makes it especially resistant to chlorine or other disinfectants.
Again, according to the CDC, the average swimmer has about 0.14 grams of feces on their ~ahem~ …person…at any given time. (Can you believe someone got paid to figure that out?) How much is 0.14 grams, you say? Well, let’s put it into perspective. The average paper clip weighs about 1 gram, a pinch of salt weighs about one gram, and a stick of gum weighs about one gram. So figure 1/10 of a stick of gum, or the average size of a piece of Nerds candy, and that’s about how much feces you have on your body right now. And of course, babies could carry more than that…speaking as a parent, I’m going to wager that it’s A LOT more…So when you go swimming, you can pretty much plan on that rinsing off into the pool. Of course, not everyone is infected with crypto, but nobody is going to be wearing a swimsuit that says, “Hey, I had diarrhea last week, and I’m most likely still shedding!” (If you see this swimsuit, please leave the pool immediately.)

So how can Crypto be killed?
Well, there are a couple of different ways to kill Cryptosporidium, but boiling all the water in the swimming pool for one full minute is not usually the most feasible method, so chlorine is the way to go…Now, here is the problem. In North Carolina, swimming pools are required to maintain at least 1 ppm chlorine at all times. (That’s like one dollar out of one million dollars) That’s well and good for most microorganisms that get in the pool. For example, Chlorine at 1 ppm will kill E .Coli in less than one minute. Cool, huh? But let’s think of a few other nasty little guys…Hepatitis A? 16 minutes at 1 ppm. Giardia? 45 minutes at 1 ppm. And our new friend Crypto? Well, he’s going to need to sit there for 15,300 minutes…that’s 10.6 days (#theydidthemath). Do you think anyone wants to close their pool for 10.6 days? Not when its 95 degrees out and you’ve got your Sirius XM set to the Big 80s on 8. So the answer is super-chlorination (or hyper-chlorination). This involves raising the level of chlorine in the pool to levels that will kill the Crypto much quicker. And by quicker, I mean hours, not days. So, let’s assume there is a diarrheal incident in a pool that is maintained correctly and is using a chlorine stabilizer. What happens next? First thing, of course, is to get everyone out (shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish once they figure out what’s happened), next the level of chlorine is raised to 20, 30 or 40 ppm. At 20 ppm, Crypto will be killed in 28 hours. At 30 ppm, 18 hours, and at 40 ppm, Crypto will be killed in 8.5 hours. Still, that’s a full Saturday that the kids won’t be able to use the pool. And after the super-chlorination is complete, everything must be brought back to normal maintenance conditions. So, as you can see, a lot of work goes into maintaining a pool when a Crypto-incident is suspected, and everything must be considered Crypto, AND that’s in a pool where everything is maintained correctly.
Let’s talk about things you can do to prevent a Crypto infection.
1. Make sure that the pool you are about to enter is well maintained.
2. Shower before entering, and after exiting the pool
3. Don’t swallow the water (Seems obvious, but if you have kids, you know what I’m talking about)
4. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see something you are concerned about, let a person in charge know, and stay out of the water.
5. Keep your hands out of your mouth while in the pool and after exiting until you have washed.

Other things to watch out for when going swimming include the drains. Make sure that none are cracked or broken, or move. They are required to be securely attached to the bottom of the pool and be maintained in good repair. The drains can have an incredible suction, and without the drain covers, are a major hazard for children AND adults. Also, you want to make sure there are no openings or holes in the walls of the pool. Even a return inlet pipe (a return inlet is where water comes back into the pool from the pump, filter and sometimes the water heater) can be a hazard if it does not have a proper cover. Re-enforce to the kids that just because a hole is there, you don’t have to stick your hands, hair, skin, Nemo, Dory or anything else in there. Suction hazards exist all over pools, and it’s going to be bad if something gets stuck in a pipe. It’s a good idea to look over the pool deck as well, to ensure that there are no trip hazards present. Cracks, settling, and water damage can lead to dangerous conditions. The environmental health department is responsible for issuing permits and conducting inspections on all year round and seasonal public pools, but we can’t be there all the time.
Be safe, and have a great summer!

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q:

Hello Mr. Jason! I love your “Ask A Health Inspector” articles, but I wanted to see if you could break from food safety for a while, and offer any insight into the upcoming solar eclipse! My family is very excited about it, and we are looking forward to hearing any additional information you might have!
-Winston

 

A

 “Without pause or preamble, silent as orbits, a piece of the Sun went away.”
– Annie Dillard (1979)

Well Winston, that’s a really great question, but before we start, you should know that I’m a health inspector, not an “astonomist” (That’s a word…right?) but I enjoy a solar eclipse as much as the next guy. I remember back in the early 80s at my school, we all watched the eclipse (years later, I would recognize that this was only a partial eclipse) and then went inside and had “solar sandwiches” for lunch. It was a very memorable day. Hey! Did you know that eclipses are not really that rare? What IS rare is having an eclipse close to where YOU are. Like once every 400 years or so. However, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t include some food safety information in an “Ask A Health Inspector” article. So, for that very reason, let’s talk about final cook temperatures (don’t worry, I’m going to tie it all in somehow…I hope…). If you are a long time reader of my AAHI articles, you’ll remember my summer grilling article about keeping things clean, separate, cooked thoroughly, and cooled properly. But being the cotton-headed ninny-muggins that I am, I failed to mention the final cooking temperatures for grilled meats. The 2017 NC food code lists final cooking temperatures for all meats…and not just the good ol’ ribeye or boneless, skinless chicken breast, but things you’ve never heard of….baluts for example…you know what that is? I’ll bet you don’t, because it’s gross…but it’s in there…(look it up).

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the grill as the main cooking source, but the final cook temperatures are the same no matter the method of applying heat.

So let’s say the eclipse is happening today, and you want to make sure that your pork shoulder roast (or Boston Butt) is going to be safe by the 100% totality. (The 100% totality, meaning total blackout, is only viewable in “the path of totality” which is literally a path that runs across the country, about 70 miles wide and crosses over a few locations pretty close to Asheville) You might say, “Jason, how long do I need to keep my “Penumbra Pork” (the penumbra is the shaded region during an eclipse that is just outside the umbra, which is the darkest point during an eclipse, and is where one will experience the true magic of the 100% totality. Most of us watching the eclipse will see or be in the penumbra region) in the grill to ensure food safety?” Well, I’d probably tell you that what really matters is to get your butt a food thermometer and cook it until it’s at least 145 degrees F for 4 minutes. Now, speaking from experience, I would also tell you that for the best pork BBQ,(I’m talking completely fall apart BBQ) you’re going to need to get that butt up to 195 degrees F, but that’s a personal preference. In fact, pretty much any chunk of meat is going to need to get to 145 degrees F and be maintained there for 4 minutes to be safe. Now, I’m not talking about thick cut steaks, or chicken breasts…I’m talking about roasts. A roast is a big chunk of meat of some species, that is usually a lesser quality cut, that is meant to be cooked for a long period of time. That “Right Ascension Roast”? (The ‘right ascension’ is a mathematical equation that divides the sky into sections, called hours, where each hour represents 15 degrees) It’s going to need to reach 145 degrees F for 4 minutes to be safe.

Speaking of steaks, let’s talk about those big, juicy, thick, prime cut, slabs of deliciousness…I’m talking about the ribeye…(or the New York strip, or the filet mignon, or whatever strip steak you want to pick up.) We can also throw seafood, and eggs in this category. To ensure food safety, the FDA (and the 2009 NC food code) recommends that seafood, eggs and steaks are cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and maintained for 15 seconds. That “Lunar Lamb Chop”? That’s going to need to reach 145 degrees too. “But Jason!” you’re going to scream… “I like my steak rare and 145 degrees is practically burnt!” “Well…” I’m going to respond… “I’m not the food police, if you want to eat your steak rare, I don’t care, that’s up to you! The FDA also says don’t eat raw oysters, but heck, we all know what I do…I mean I wrote an entire article on it, for Pete’s sake! FDA is not the boss of me!” Eggs? I like them over easy, or even raw in Caesar salad dressing. I realize I’m taking a risk, but, I also like to live dangerously….

Alright, let’s move on to ground meats. In the health inspectin’ business, we like to get fancy and call them comminuted meats, but basically, we’re talking about anything that is mechanically tenderized or ground up. So think about things like burgers, cubed steaks, or even mixed species like a meatball or meatloaf mixture. These items have to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155 degrees F for 15 seconds. Now when it comes to ground meats, I don’t take risks. I cook every ground meat item (except ground poultry) to 155 degrees F or above. Here’s why: When meat is ground up, it is basically taken apart in shreds, and is then put back together. Every one of those little strands of meat now has the possibility of becoming contaminated. All that surface area is just right for picking up all kinds of contamination as they move through a grinder or cuber. Yummy! Now think about that ribeye we just talked about…how many sides does a ribeye have? Two! All you gotta do is kill the stuff on the surface of a ribeye, man! Easy! Doesn’t even matter how thick…As long you get it hot enough to kill the bacteria on the surface, you’re fine. But ground meat doesn’t work that way…you have to get every strand of that meat hot enough to kill that bacteria. 155 degrees is going to do that for you. So when you are waiting for the eclipse to start, and you want to get those “Besselian Burgers” (the Besselian elements are used to help calculate the path of the umbra and penumbra during an eclipse) done before the blackout, don’t listen to Bubba when he tells you he’s been eating raw burger for years and he’s fine…take a good look at Bubba…think about that…don’t be like Bubba.
Alright, finally, chicken and other poultry. Chicken is a little different than the other foods we’ve mentioned. We are looking for 165 degrees for 15 seconds here, but in my personal experience, just because it is safe to eat at 165, doesn’t necessarily mean it is desirable at 165. I like my “Corona Chicken” (the corona is the outer area of the sun that is only visible during a total eclipse) to cook a little longer and really get all the pink out. That’s just me though, if you like your chicken to be squishy and a little pink, hey, I’m not judging. Products containing ground poultry (turkey burgers, chicken sausages, etc.) also need to reach 165. Baluts? Yep, 165. (I’m assuming you have already looked them up by now). Ratites? 165. (A ratite is member of a certain group of flightless birds. Think emu, or ostrich…I know what you’re thinking…Road Runner… Amirite? Curiously, a road runner is not a ratite, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because even Wile E. Coyote can’t catch one, so we don’t stand a chance).

Now, I’m going to step away from the safety side of things for a minute and give you a little information on the setup of your home cooking area, but before we go re-inventing the grill…(see what I did there?) you should know that restaurants mostly use gas for their grills, and that’s just fine. They always work great, and if you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant, you know the results can be fantastic. At home, though, I like to use charcoal. If you have a gas grill, why, that’s just fine too. Some restaurants have grills that are designed to be hot in the front, and hottest in the back. That’s why you see all those steaks and chicken parts sitting back there in different locations on the grill. Food employees know where to put them on the grill, and then it’s not necessary to constantly stand over them wondering if the chicken is going to be burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. You can do the same thing at home by piling all the charcoal to one side of the kettle and making a slight slope toward the middle. This gives you a nice area of really super hot at the back and kinda medium toward the center, and then a cool area on the other end. Same for gas grills, but a little harder to control…If you have 2 burners, you need one on and one off. 3 burners? One full blast, middle one medium, and 3rd one off completely. This setup is going to work for 95% (I’m totally making this number up, but you get the idea) of the things you are going to be grilling at home. Now if you are smoking something, like pork shoulder or brisket, that’s a different setup (and a different article).

But at least now you can safely grill something wonderful on the day of the eclipse (August 21, 2017) instead of what you had originally planned…Moonpies and Tang with a side of starbursts, while listening to “Don’t Steal My Sunshine”, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, or maybe “Dancing in the Dark”…or how about “Darkside of the the Moon”? Ooooh, or “I believe in a Thing called Love” by The Darkness…? “Blinded by the Light”…(I could go on all day…)

Enjoy the eclipse, friends!

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Christmas Special

Part II

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the office,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the bosses.
But I, at my desk, was trying to write
Sighing and realizing I’d be here all night.

Dimming the screen brightness and adjusting my glasses,
I was hammering out articles as Christmas eve passes

The coffee was steaming on its eye in a pot,
That, and some soup, the only things that were hot.

I glanced out the window for a peek at the snow
Where a blizzard was blowing snowflakes to and fro.

When what to my wandering eyes did appear?
A mobile food unit?!?
And 8 tiny reindeer?

I rushed through the office and ran out the door,
Knocking papers aside and pushing chairs to the floor

The truck flew through the air as if by some kind of magic
And landed perfectly in front of me despite the holiday traffic

Out hopped a fellow in a jolly red suit
And adjusting his cap, and stomping his boots,
made his way forward, smoothing the hair on his chin,
“Claus is the name” he said with a grin

“I’d like to acquire a permit” he said
“for my truck, Tinsel Tacos and
Sweet Gingerbreads.”

He watched as I glanced at his truck, front to back,
“I assure you it’s got everything down to the dish rack!”
His food truck was decked in a holiday fashion,
“Christmas is my gig, but tacos? My Passion!

He flung the door open before I could speak,
And climbed up inside, just as quick as a wink.
I said, “Wait, wait, Santa! That’s not how it’s done!”
But I took a step in, for nothing but fun.

I saw a large bag on the floor of his truck
And he was pulling food out while I stood there dumbstruck.

I stammered and shook,
And took a step back.
When did he prepare this food
from his sack?

He turned around quick, hands behind his back
And fired up a grill for a quick midnight snack.

“What’s your pleasure?” he asked
His eyes all aglow,
“Al pastor? Asada? Fried fish? Chorizo?

His menu looked solid,
His equipment? Commercial.
The taco he offered was more than a mouthful.

I started to think this was some kind of bribe,
And then he started reciting a long diatribe
About cooking before permitting and the storing of foods
And how inspectors in other counties were “really cool dudes”.

“Mrs. Claus has a gift for the cooking of rices, and
An insatiable curiosity for the mixing of spices.
She prepared all this food at the pole for my trip.”
He said with a wink and a smile on his lip.

I straightened myself up, and said “Hold on, Now!”
And shaking my head and furrowing my brow,
I slapped the taco out of his hand,
And demanded he show me his blueprints and plans

“A completed application would be your first step
In gaining a permit to begin some food prep

And if you bring food in before getting approval
You have just guaranteed its immediate removal

Your spoons and utensils are all made of candy!
And you keep them all stored in a hard candy pantry!

And please don’t think I’m being unreasonable,
but candy cane forks are not easily cleanable

And let’s talk about water, where’s your handwashing sink?
Is that an ice machine with mold and mildew that’s pink?”

His beard, like snow, was so white and so hairy,
“I’m sorry Santa”, I said, ” but we’ll have to meet at your commissary.”

Your gray water dumped and utensils washed daily,
We have to make sure you are handling food safely.

And that pipe that you smoke, with its sweet Christmas scent,
Will have to stay out if you want a permit.”

His mouth dropped open, his pipe fell to the floor
He mumbled some curse words, but didn’t say more.

He slammed the door shut, I could tell he was angry.
He grimaced and pointed a gloved finger at me.

“Fine”, he sighed, with complete exasperation,
“I’ll give it away, for a ‘suggested donation’ ”

Then he gave me a frown, and gave me the finger,
And dashed out the lot without even a jingle.

“On Bacon, on Bagel, on Beancurd, on Gouda,
On Jackfruit, on Chutney, on Tater, on Strudel”

And I heard him exclaim, with a voice like a broadcasters,
“Merry Christmas to all, except Jason Masters”

Have a safe and Merry Christmas, friends!

**BLOOPER REEL**

He gave me a frown, and spit on the floor,
Then he kicked a small cat that had run through the door!

Then he gave me a frown, and shook his large fist,
He gave me a look…boy was he PISSED!

Then he punched me in the face, and yelled
“KRIS KRINGLE RULES!”
And with a mouthful of blood I garbled “have a cool yule…”

He dashed out the lot without even a jingle,
I had an altercation with a food truck Kris Kringle

The police weren’t notified, lawyers weren’t called,
To whom would I report that I had been mauled?

Surely the elves have their own justice system,
They wouldn’t allow this event to get past ’em

Then he kicked me in the shin, and yelled, “SAINT NICHOLAS RULES!!”
And while skulking away said, “environmental health drools…”

I had a Christmas altercation with a food truck Kris Kringle,
Who then dashed out the lot without even a jingle.

 

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q:

Hi Jason, long time reader…Love the show. I have a question I’m hoping you will be able to help me with. I have twin boys, and they LOVE Count Chocula and Franken Berry! I have recently heard about raw milk becoming more available in North Carolina, and I’m wondering if the use of raw milk on my boys’ cereal will help to give them a more complete breakfast. What can you tell me about the safety of raw milk?
-Sloan

 

A

Hi Sloan! That’s a great question, and such a timely one!
As a fan of the monster breakfast cereals myself, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least put in a good word for Boo Berry, and of course my personal favorite, Yummy Mummy. And who could leave out the oft-forgotten Fruit Brute?!?
There is a whole world of delicious cereals out there that my parents would not let me have, and I am making up for it now that I’m all grown up. So what if I pour chocolate milk on Cocoa Krispies?!? You’re not the boss of me!!
Anyway, let’s get to that pesky raw milk stuff.

Now you might be asking yourself, “Self, what’s the big deal with raw milk? Isn’t if full of healthy proteins and immunoglobulins and other big words that make it better for me?!?” Well, that’s kind of a tricky question. Raw milk does have proteins and enzymes and vitamins that are somewhat destroyed or diminished by pasteurization. Now, if I were to stop talking here, all the raw milk proponents would be very happy. However, the truth is most of the nutrients that are destroyed or diminished are those that we find in other foods anyway. So for example, Vitamin C is one of the nutrients in raw milk that is effected by pasteurization. But, I’m not drinking milk for Vitamin C. I get my daily allowance of Vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits, juices, and those delicious fortified monster cereals. Pasteurization is not something to be afraid of. It has saved countless lives, and has made more foods safe for the general consumption. It was originally developed to make milk safer. I mean, it’s whole purpose of being, is to make milk safe! It’s just like applying heat to any other raw protein. Ideally, you apply just enough to kill the harmful bacteria, and then you get to enjoy that prime cut ribeye! Pasteurization is, in effect, simply cooking the raw milk until safe. That’s it! Now with all that being said, there are those of us who believe that minimal processing of food is better or healthier. And truthfully, it probably is for some foods.
I mean, a glass of orange juice is just not the same as a tall, cold glass of Tang, BUT, in the case of raw milk or pasteurized milk, the evidence is pretty clear that less people get sick from pasteurized milk than raw. The numbers don’t lie.

So how does all the bad stuff get into the milk in the first place? Let’s put this in perspective…my wife and I have a newborn daughter. My wife produces “raw breast milk”. That’s fine. It’s great for our daughters immune system and overall well-being. However, I would be upset if she went to our local tractor-pull, participated in the community mud-wrestling event, then came back home and breast fed our daughter without taking a shower. It’s not the milk I’m worried about, it’s the mud, feces, spit, blood, pus, and general uncleanliness that would be all over my wife’s body… In truth, Rachael hasn’t been to a mud wrestling event since before she was pregnant, but she is anxious to get back at it…

You might say, “Well Jason, I know people who have been drinking raw milk for years, and they’ve never been sick one time!” The truth here is that there is no way to predict when raw milk is safe or not. The facts are that raw milk does contain some bacteria that can make you sick. Unfortunately, no matter how sanitary a milk processing facility is, there is just no guarantee that harmful bacteria will not get into the milk. Will it ALWAYS make you sick? Maybe not, but who wants to risk that?
And how do you know that those people have never been sick? People react to things differently sometimes, and not every bout of diarrhea will be reported as a foodborne illness. In summary, like most things in life, this is a decision that each individual will have to make. I can’t tell you that every gallon of raw milk is always bad, and I can’t tell you it is always safe. But I would encourage anyone who is interested in potentially drinking or providing raw milk to their family to do a little research, and find out the gist, before you ingest….
Stay safe, friends.

 

 

 

By Jason Masters
     Environmental Health Director

Image of Thinking Health Inspector

 

 


A

Q:

Bro…Got a question about eggs. What’s the deal with that whole recall thing? I’ve got chickens and I only eat eggs that come from my backyard. Should I be worried? What are some things I should be concerned about as a small chicken farmer?
-Eric

 

A

Hey Eric, really great question. We have heard a lot about the recent egg recall lately, and for good reason. In a nutshell (*egg shell*?), federal inspectors found pretty gruesome conditions at a large commercial egg farm in North Carolina. When I say large, I’m talking about 2.3 MILLION eggs a day. That’s a big omelet. Some of the violations noted in federal inspectors reports include: Dead and live rodents, accumulation of water on floors (doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in this kind of facility, where large amounts of manure are present, standing water provides a nice petri dish for pathogens to grow and multiply), water on equipment, employees being less than savory with their personal hygiene, and employees not following standard operating procedures. Now, if you are a regular reader of my articles, you are probably pretty familiar with the risk based inspection. The risk based inspection is what your local health inspectors conduct when they evaluate and grade a restaurant, and federal inspections are similar in that they focus on factors that are more likely to contribute to illness before they look at other things like floors, walls, and ceilings.

So the egg recall was due, largely, to the sanitation (or lack of ) of the facility and mishandling of eggs and equipment by employees, resulting in a 206 million egg recall. Now, I’m not trying to be *neggative* here, but that’s a lot of bad eggs. Of course, Salmonella is the organism of concern here, and it only needs an opportunity to move from the chickens to equipment to employees and right back to the eggs. Salmonella causes the appropriately named disease, salmonellosis, and just so you don’t have the check your*hencyclopedia*, salmonellosis causes the usual flu like symptoms associated with food borne illness and is particularly harmful to the young and elderly. Usually, the only *tweetment* needed is fluids to avoid dehydration. As of this writing, 35 people have been affected in 9 states. Several of those 35 have been hospitalized, but so far, none have died. “So Jason…” you are probably asking, “…if salmonella is already around chickens and eggs, why is this recall in place?” Well that’s a good point. Let’s talk about that for second. Salmonella is naturally occurring and lives in the intestinal tracts of birds, and is transmitted through feces. Now I’m not a chicken farmer, but it’s pretty easy to realize that eggs move through the same passageway feces moves through. I’m not going to get into the biology of things here, but salmonella can also live in the ovaries of chickens, so that sometimes, even as the egg is being formed, it can become contaminated. There are several safety procedures in place at large farms. The USDA requires that the eggs be washed to remove fecal material before packaging. This helps to ensure that the fecal material carrying the bacteria can be removed from the egg before being presented to the consumer. The FDA requires that a pest control plan be put into place as well as biosecurity measures that would limit the visitors to the facility , and would also prevent employees from taking birds home with them, (and subsequently naming them things like, “Hen Solo”, and “Cluck Norris”). The issue here is that even after all the safety procedures are in place, if you let a little rat climb across your egg cartons or packaging material, or say an employee has an itch in an area that may not be the cleanest, and then doesn’t wash his hands, well, you’ve just re-contaminated your whole supply.

So why can’t you just cook the bejesus out of these things and avoid the recall problem altogether? Well, maybe you could, but that means that you would have to make no mistakes…I’m talking zero (0)mistakes while handling and preparing these eggs. You would have to make sure you cooked them to at least 160 degrees every time, and the possibility of cross contamination here is insanely high! Everywhere you put those eggs, you literally (not figuratively) have placed salmonella. I’m talking, hands, counter, keys, car seat, everything! Now I believe you when you say that your kitchen is cleaner than any restaurant in town, and you should ALWAYS treat raw proteins like they are infected with everything known to man, but the fact remains that the CDC estimates that only one in 20,000 eggs is INTERNALLY contaminated with salmonella. Notice, how I put that INTERNALLY in big letters. That’s because I want you to understand that this recall is due to salmonella on the outside of the shell. My point is, that even though you have a super clean Gordon Ramsey kitchen, the eggs themselves are already pretty safe most of the time due to the precautions by the FDA and the USDA. But if you KNEW that those eggs had been scientifically proven to have salmonella all over them, wouldn’t it just be easier to throw them away and buy some new ones? Wouldn’t even be a question at my house. I’d throw eggs away like it was my job if I knew there was salmonella creepily crawling all over them.

So let’s talk about some issues that can occur on small farms, and why you should at least be aware of some conditions before buying those eggs that were advertised on the sign nailed to the light post beside the stop sign with the red painted letters that say “FRESH EGGS, $4.99, THIS-A-WAY –>”.

In 2017, there were 1,120 cases of salmonella across 48 states that were found to be directly associated with backyard chicken flocks. Now remember, in large egg processing facilities, safety precautions are in effect to assure that eggs are maintained in good, safe condition. Of course, as noted above, if those precautions are ignored, then havoc can ensue. How many precautions do you think Bubbas Egg Farm has in place? I can pretty conclusively tell you that Bubba has zero precautions in place. I realize that Bubbas chickens are the prettiest, nicest, birds you have ever seen, and they have the cutest names like Ruth Bader Hens-burg, and Nancy Reag-hen, but the fact remains that Bubba is going out there, stomping through the mud and manure, shoo-ing those birds out of the way, grabbing a dozen or so eggs with those big mitts of his, and chunking them down in an old Earth Fare egg carton with the label half torn off, and bringing them back in to you, the customer. He is going to tell you he’s been in the bird “bid-ness” for 35 years and has never been sick, and that “heck, a little chicken manure makes you grow up good and strong”. Let me tell you right now, chicken manure will NOT make you grow up good and strong. Do yourself a favor, and take a look around at the chickens before you make a purchase. (Watch your kids! Don’t let them go over there and snuggle up with Meryl Cheep and Hennifer Lopez!) Is their coop neat and clean? Are the birds well taken care of? Is there manure all over the place? Is Bubba washing his hands? Are the eggs collected on a regular basis? If you do decide to take some money out of your savings or *chicken account* and make a purchase, take your eggs home and brush them off a little if needed. Don’t wash them…cold water can make the shells contract and pull bacteria inside the egg. Don’t try to keep a cracked egg. Throw it away. And finally, remember to cook your eggs thoroughly.
Salmonellosis is no yolk…
Now to end, a few chicken jokes:

-What do you call a coop full of jumping chickens?
–Poultry in motion

-Why did the chicken cross the road?
–To get to the other side (of the road)

-Why did the chicken cross the road?
–To get to the other side (in a metaphysical sense, the other side of life.)

-What do you call a ghost chicken?
–A poultrygeist

-Why does a chicken coop have 2 doors?
–Because if it had 4 doors, it would be a chicken sedan.