Food Safety: If In Doubt, Throw It Out!

“If in Doubt—Throw it Out,”

Disaster Area Restaurants Told

(Little Rock–) As is the case with individuals in their homes, restaurant owners and other food service operators are faced with hard decisions when it comes to food safety following any power outage of some duration, like the one that may last for several more days, and even weeks, in parts of northern Arkansas.

“Our local Environmental Health Specialists in the affected counties have been working diligently with restaurant and kitchen personnel to make sure that everyone knows what they need to know to keep the food safe,” said Terry Paul, Environmental Health Branch Chief at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Nobody wants to make any of their customers sick,” he said.

Disposing of Contaminated or Spoiled Food

Decisions about disposing of food products are usually made by the owner of the product, along with the Arkansas Department of Health. In determining which contaminated food products should be disposed of, reconditioned or salvaged, the owners of the products must assess each product’s quality, safety and condition.

* Destroy refrigerated and frozen foods, such as meat, poultry, shell eggs, egg products, and milk, which have not maintained a temperature of 41°F or below. Good advice is: If in doubt, throw it out.
* Complete proper and safe disposal of condemned food items in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local solid waste storage, transportation, and disposal regulations, to ensure these products do not reappear as damaged or salvaged merchandise for human consumption.


* Put fewer items on the menu when only a limited number of trained employees are available and working. A full menu may be offered when there is an adequate number of trained employees to staff each area of the operation during normal working hours.
* Soap and potable running, warm water (at least 100°F) should always be used to wash hands.
* Alcohol hand gels may only be used after handwashing. Alcohol hand gels are ineffective against germs on soiled hands and are therefore not a substitute for soap and water handwashing.
* Employees should avoid touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands by using tongs, deli paper, or single-use, disposable gloves.


· Employees with open wounds should not work with hands-on preparation of foods or with cleaned and sanitized food contact surfaces or single-service/single-use utensils. If these infected wounds are covered with a double, water-proof barrier such as a finger cot or water-tight bandage and plastic gloves, the employee may continue to work with food.

· Employees sick with vomiting, diarrhea or jaundice should not be handling food in the establishment

Arkansas Department of Health oversight ensures proper disposal so that contaminated products cannot be introduced into the food supply.

Questions and concerns about food and water safety can be answered by Environmental Health Specialists at any local health unit of the Arkansas Department of Health. For complete listings go to .