Public Health Heroes: Environmental Inspection Services extends far beyond restaurant closures

Environmental Inspection team

Each day the Baltimore City Health Department’s (BCHD) Bureau of Environmental Health, Environmental Inspection Services (EIS) carries out routine inspections at some of Baltimore’s 5,000 food establishments to ensure that health standards are being met and to certify that businesses are doing their best to keep their customers safe from food-borne illnesses. Contrary to popular belief, their goal is not to shut down food establishments.

“The last thing that we want to do is shut down somebody’s business,” said Jessica Speaker, BCHD Director of Environmental Inspection Services.

Their mission is simple: to help Baltimore business owners succeed through education and routine evaluation. Inspectors do their best to keep businesses operating, issuing cautionary advice and violation notices so that problems can be resolved.

EIS inspects food establishments, among other things, on the basis of safe food handling, meat and poultry preparation, equipment and temperature control and accurate food labeling. As a result of these routine visits, EIS inspectors often form relationships with Baltimore business owners and they are proud to watch their success from year-to-year.  

“True success comes when the inspector can correct unsafe practices through education. Shutting a business down for even a short time can really affect a business’ bottom line, not to mention the loss of income it causes to those employed there,” said Assistant Commissioner of Environmental Health Mary Beth Haller.  “More often than not, they see the success of hard-working, local business owners during their inspections.”

The EIS team encourages safe food practices for all Baltimore residents.

Below are tips for anyone preparing to cook a Thanksgiving turkey at home this holiday season:

  • Thaw turkeys in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water, or in the microwave. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe and bacteria can grow rapidly;
  • Kill bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses by fully cooking the turkey until it reaches 165 °F;
  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination;
  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on food; and
  • Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days. Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.

To learn more about BCHD Environmental Health programs, click here.

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Note from the Commissioner: Protecting our Community’s Health

This week, I celebrated the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebration as the keynote speaker for the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. By invitation of Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson, I applauded the efforts of the FBI to embrace diversity and inclusion in their work. I discussed the shared core values driving the work of those of us on the frontlines of public health and public safety: Compassion, fairness, and respect for the dignity of all those we protect. And I had the opportunity conduct a naloxone training for agents and analysts and discuss how addiction is a disease for which we must all approach with urgency.

All sectors must be engaged to protect our community’s health and well-being. I was glad to provide the opening keynote for the United Way of Central Maryland’s Emerging Leaders United Young Professionals Conference. These young professionals are coming from backgrounds as diverse as finance, law, architecture, and accounting, but each of them are engaged in social justice and community service. Researchers and academics can be just as engaged. Last Thursday, I presented to doctors, nurses, and public health researchers as part of the Women’s Health, Sex, and Gender Research Symposium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There, I discussed the importance of academic researchers building relationships with the local communities in which they work. Everyone can make a difference in the communities we live and serve.

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Bmore Healthy Newsletter: May 18, 2018

Click here to read the 5/18/18 newsletter. Subscribe to the Bmore Healthy newsletter.

In this issue:

  • Note from the Commissioner
  • WYPR 88.1FM – Dr. Wen Participates in Midday’s “Healthwatch” Segment
  • Dr. Wen Speaks at United Way of Central Maryland’s Emerging Young Leaders United (ELU) Young Professionals Conference
  • and more

Note From The Commissioner: Treating Addiction in our Hospitals

Last week, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and I convened all 11 hospitals in Baltimore to announce our partnership to combat the opioid epidemic. Addiction is a disease. Treatment for it cannot be siloed and stigmatized.

Baltimore City hospitals have done exceptional work already. Nearly all of our City’s ERs offer medication-assisted treatment on demand and peer recovery specialists, something true of no other major city in America. Through my standing order for naloxone, more than 36,000 residents have been trained to use the antidote medication, and these residents have saved more than 1,900 lives. Law enforcement and health officials teamed up to start a program that allows residents arrested for low-level drug offenses the opportunity to choose treatment and case management instead of prosecution. In March, we announced the opening of our Stabilization Center, a first-of-its-kind 24/7 urgent care facility dedicated to issues of addiction and mental health.

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