By Heather Reifsnyder
Eating out is big business. In 2006, Americans spent more than an estimated $428 million on food services and drinking establishments. Loma Linda University wants to help ensure that eating out is safe for consumers.
The office of public health practice and workforce development at LLU School of Public Health is partnering with the County of San Bernardino to reduce the risk of catching food-borne illnesses at restaurants. The office is duplicating 7,500 copies of an instructional DVD for training food workers, which was produced by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health’s division of environmental health services.
“This type of activity helps us fulfill our mission of promoting health, reducing illness, and educating the people of our county,” says David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, Interim Dean in the School of Public Health. “This is an example of a public/private partnership that benefits the citizens of San Bernardino.”
The DVD is part of an effort by San Bernardino County to better enforce compliance with applicable food-handling law. The new option makes more accessible the necessary training to obtain a food handler’s card. In the past, food workers have only had the option to attend a class in person at one of six training facilities in the county. The training is also now available online, and the county is adding more testing centers as well.
The DVDs (in Spanish and English) are now available. Within six months, all food establishments in the county will have received the DVD, and the county’s environmental health inspectors will be verifying for 100 percent compliance with County Code requiring all food handlers to have a current food handler’s card within 14 days of employment in San Bernardino County.
“The protection of public health is directly related to the safe food handling practices of employees,” says Terri Williams, REHS, of the county health department.
The School of Public Health is also helping the California Department of Health Services (DHS) with a training project. The School is reproducing notebooks of written materials that DHS will use to train environmental health leaders on new legislation that takes effect July 1, 2007. The leaders will then return to their respective offices and train the health inspectors in California’s 58 county and four city health departments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the LLU School of Public Health as one of five Regional Academic Environmental Public Health Centers in the nation. These university-based centers provide technical resources to any environmental health program within their respective regions.