Food News and Views

Food News and Views

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Food News & Views - 2018

Food News & Views includes many different topics of interest to food service managers and employees.  Below, you will find information about certified manager training and compliance, foodborne illness investigations, service animals, and several other topics.  Most importantly, this webpage contains 2018/2019 food service license renewal information.
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2018/2019 Food Service Licensing Fees,

Fixed Location: 0 – 24 Seats


Fixed Location: 25 – 99 Seats


Fixed Location: 100+ Seats


Fixed Multiple


Transitory Food Unit (STFU)




Mobile Food Establishment (Cold Truck)


Mobile Food Establishment (Steam Truck)


Mobile Food Establishment (Hot Truck)


All license renewals must be received by April 30, 2018 to avoid late fees!

Additional late fees apply for applications received after May 1, 2018.

A licensed fixed food service facility may have multiple locations that require an inspection.  Inspection fees for these designated multiple areas are due at time of licensing.


Every licensed food service facility in Oakland County is required to have at least one Certified Food Service Manager.  Certificates must be maintained onsite for review by a sanitarian during inspections.  Facilities are encouraged to post their certificates so that customers and staff can see their dedication to food safety.

Certifications remain valid for five years. Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) offers full certification courses as well as recertification courses monthly at multiple locations. The registration form containing the list of upcoming classes can be found here. Facilities interested in hosting a class should call 248-858-7930.

ServSafe was recently updated to a new 7th edition geared toward food service professionals. The ServSafe textbook is a good reference for food safety information and can be used to train other staff. Textbooks are available in several languages such as: English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. Exams are also available in several languages such as: English, Large Print, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

During 2017, OCHD conducted 12 ServSafe Food Service Management Certification classes and 12 Recertification classes. Out of 292 students enrolled in these classes, 233 received their certification for an 80% passing rate!

ServSafe is a registered trade mark of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and used under license by National Restaurant Association Solutions, LLC. 

Basic Food Safety,

The Basic Food Safety Course is a free class offered through Oakland County Health Division. The class covers the fundamentals of food safety by reviewing the major causes of foodborne illness and how to prevent them.

The course is a great class for entry level food service employees, wait staff, and anyone who has an interest in learning about food safety.

Basic Food Safety is offered once a month in both the North and South Oakland Health Centers and is approximately two hours in length. The class allows the public an opportunity to ask questions and learn about food safety from experienced public health sanitarians without the pressure of a standardized exam at the end.

Folletos Disponibles en Español ,

Recordatorio: Tenemos folletos disponibles en Español incluyendo: lavado de manos, tres compartimiento fregadero, enfriamiento, y almacenamiento. Favor de pedir los folletos a su inspector durante su próxima inspección.

Hepatitis A,

​Looking for information on the recent Hepatitis A outbreak in Southeast Michigan?  Click here for more information.

New Procedures for Verifying Compliance with Oakland County Sanitary Code Article IV,

Oakland County Sanitary Code, as well as the Michigan Food Law, requires that all food service establishments provide at least one certified manager per licensed food service establishment. 

  • A certified manager is required to:
    • Work full time at the establishment
    • Complete the certified manager course through an approved organization
    • Provide documentation of hte completed certified manager training during inspection
    • Oversee training of all food handling personal to ensure food safety
  • Maintaining certification and avoiding fees:
    • Renew your certified manager certificate every 5 years
    • Train or hire a new certified manager if the previous certified manager no longer works at the facility

If a certified manager certificate expires or the manager no longer works for the facility full time, notify the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD). You must obtain a new certified manager within the next 90 days to avoid enforcement action. If a certified manager is not obtained within the 90 day time frame, the following enforcement steps will proceed:

  • After 90 days (no documentation of certified manager provided):
    • A 24 hour notice will be given during an OCHD Article IV follow up with a $50 re-inspection fee administered.
  • After 24 hour notice (no documentation of certified manager provided):
    • An Article IV Office Consultation will be scheduled with OCHD and an additional $50 re-inspection fee will be administered.

OCHD's Food Service Establishment Enforcement Policy,

The Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) aims to ensure that food service facilities are operating safely in order to protect public health. To help your facility operate safely and avoid enforcement, it is important to familiarize yourself with the OCHD Environmental Health Services Food Service Establishment Enforcement Policy. Below are some of the most common enforcement procedures:

  • Follow-up Inspections: If a priority or priority foundation violation, or core violation determined to have significant impact to the operation of the facility, is observed during a routine inspection and is unable to be corrected at that time, a follow-up is scheduled to ensure it is corrected.
  • Enforcement Follow-up Inspection after first Follow-up Inspection: When a priority or priority foundation violation, or core violation determined to have significant impact to the operation of the facility, remains uncorrected at a follow-up inspection, an enforcement follow-up is scheduled, and a $50 re-inspection fee is administered.
  • Enforcement Follow-up Inspection after Routine Inspection:
    • When the same priority or priority foundation violation code number, regardless of the observation, is documented at three (3) consecutive routine inspections (repeat X 2), whether it is corrected at the time or not, an enforcement follow-up is scheduled, and a $50 re-inspection fee is administered. OR
    • When the same core violation code number, regardless of the observation, is documented at four (4) consecutive routine inspections (repeat X 3), whether it is corrected at the time or not, an enforcement follow-up is scheduled, and a $50 re-inspection fee is administered.

  • Pre-Hearing Conference: An in-office conference held at the Health Division to address repeat violations and lack of compliance. 

Standard Operating Procedures,

A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions put together to help employees complete complex or even routine operations. The goal of an SOP is to achieve an efficient and uniform performance while reducing miscommunications and achieving regulatory compliance – a great way to avoid enforcement action!

Items or actions that might require an SOP include: handwashing, preventing barehand contact with ready-to-eat food, employee illness, purchasing food from approved sources, cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces, datemarking, cooking, cooling, and hot/cold holding.

For further information on SOPs as well as examples, please visit:

Pest Control Devices,

Controlling pests in licensed food service establishments is essential to ensuring food safety. Pests such as fruit flies and cockroaches can contaminate food and cause foodborne illnesses such as Shigellosis. It is highly recommended that food service operators work with licensed pest control operators to eliminate pests within the facility.

There has been an increase in the use of pesticide strips containing Dichlorvos. The strips work by slowly releasing chemical vapor into the surrounding area. Although these strips are convenient, it is essential that they are used according to label instructions. Dichlorvos strips are intended to be used in areas where humans will not be present for more than four hours. Excessive human exposure to the strip's active ingredients can result in such symptoms as nausea, headaches, twitching, trembling, and difficulty breathing. Due to the adverse impact of continuous human exposure, these pesticide strips cannot be used in food storage or preparation areas of licensed food service establishments. These strips can be used in areas such as the mop/utility closets, provided the doors to these areas remain closed when not in use.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that pests are in the facility due to the presence of food, water and shelter. Regular cleaning of food spillage under and behind equipment, in drains, and other areas in the facility can reduce and/or eliminate the presence of pests. Also, keeping the dumpster area clean with closed, tight-fitting lids and sealing any holes in walls or entryways will lower the risk of pests entering the facility.  

Foodborne Illness Investigations,

When someone reports symptoms of a foodborne illness, Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) completes a complaint investigation. This investigation may be conducted over the phone or during a site visit, depending on the number and nature of complaints received. During a complaint evaluation, the sanitarian will examine several aspects of an establishment's daily operations, including the flow of the suspect food, warewashing and sanitation, and policies on employee illness.

Should your facility receive a phone call or site visit from OCHD regarding an illness complaint, be prepared to offer information on the topics noted above. To assist with responding to these investigations, it is helpful to keep logs of relevant processes, like holding and cooling temperatures, and to review standard operating procedures with staff. Questions may include:

  • Has your facility received any foodborne illness complaints recently? Who, when, and what foods were involved?
  • What is your policy on employee illness? Have any employees become ill or received cuts or burns on their hands? When did this occur and what symptoms were observed?
  • Have you experienced any equipment failures (ex: coolers, hot holding units, dish machines, hot water heaters), or had any problems with water, electricity, or sewer/septic?
  • Has your facility experienced pest control issues, and do you work with a certified pest control operator?
  • How many of the suspect meal items do you serve per day? Which companies supply and deliver the ingredients for these items? How are ingredients received (ex: refrigerated, frozen)?
  • Are final cooking temperatures known and checked? Are there any special processes used with the suspect foods (ex: reduced oxygen packaging, curing and smoking for preservation)?
  • How are items cooled and reheated? What temperatures/timeframes are used?
  • How frequently is equipment cleaned? What kind of sanitizer and warewashing methods are used?

If your facility is contacted via phone and you are unsure if the caller is an OCHD employee, you may hang up and call the Environmental Health office at (248) 858-1312.

Service Animals in Food Establishments,

There is an increasing trend for people to bring their pets with them on their daily activities - but when are animals allowed in a food establishment?

Pets are not permitted into food establishments; however, service animals are. Establishments that prepare or sell food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples include calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), guiding people who are blind, or alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure. The service provided by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. Additionally, animals whose only purpose is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA and are therefore not permitted in food establishments.

If a customer with a service animal is in a food establishment and it is not obvious what service the animal provides, be mindful of what questions to ask. Staff may ask the following two questions:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

To ensure compliance with HIPAA laws, staff cannot ask about the person's disability, require medical documentation, training documentation, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task.

Furthermore, a person with a disability cannot be asked to remove their service animal from the premises unless:

  1. The dog is not housebroken;
  2. The dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective measures to control it.

Service animals must always be kept under control by their handler by using a harness, leash, or tether, or through voice or signal commands if the harness will prevent the animal from performing its work.

Remember service animals are working animals, not pets.

For more information, please refer to 

Food Safety Fact or Fiction?,

Fiction: It's OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn't really a problem.

Fact: Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperatures and are not always killed by freezing. Instead, thaw foods using one of the approved methods below:

  • Under refrigeration that maintains the food temperature at 41°F or less.
  • Completely submerged under running water at a water temperature of 70°F or below.
  • As part of the cooking process.
  • Thawed in a microwave, if for immediate preparation with no interruptions in the process. 

Fiction: Poultry is cooked when the juices run clear and hamburger is done when the middle turns brown.

Fact: Using a color change is not a good way to determine whether meat has been cooked thoroughly to the correct internal cooking temperature.  The only sure way to know is to use a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the food. Cook meats to the following minimum internal temperature:

  • Whole muscle beef, pork, fish/shellfish and eggs for immediate consumption: 145°F
  • Ground beef/pork, minced fish, mechanically tenderized meats and eggs for hot holding: 155°F
  • Poultry, ground or whole: 165°F

Fiction: I do not need to wash my hands since I use hand sanitizer.

Fact: Although hand sanitizers can effectively kill some germs, the sanitizer only has an effect on the outer layer of film on your hands. The best way to clean your hands is to first wet your hands with warm water, lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, rinse with warm water, then dry with paper towel.

Fiction: Foodborne illness will not happen here.

Fact: It is estimated that one in six Americans, or over 47 million, get sick from food poisoning every year and almost half of the reported outbreaks can be linked back to a single restaurant. Food hazards are always present and they must be controlled to prevent a foodborne illness outbreak.

Information on Food Recalls,

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate the food we consume every day. Although the FDA and USDA conduct many inspections of food producers each year, the majority of recalls are a result of inspections and testing conducted by the food manufacturers themselves.

A manufacturer may notice a safety issue during processing or as a result of routine testing and issue a voluntary recall. A recall can also be requested by the FDA or USDA during a routine inspection. Occasionally, the FDA or USDA may receive an alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or local health departments, linking a specific food product or an ingredient in a food product to an illness among consumers.

Some reasons for recalling food include:

  • Discovery of an organism in a product which may make consumers sick
  • Discovery of a potential allergen in a product
  • Mislabeling or misbranding of food.

The recall will be categorized into a class, based on the relative health risk

  • Class I - A Class I recall involves a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.
  • Class II - A Class II recall involves a potential health hazard situation in which there is a remote probability of adverse health consequences from eating the food.
  • Class III - A Class III recall involves a situation in which eating the food will not cause adverse health consequences but violate labeling or manufacturing laws.

For Class I and II recalled products, the regulatory agency distributes a Recall Release to media outlets, where the news is disseminated to the public in affected regions. The information included in the Recall Release includes: names of retailers that obtained the product within 3-10 days from the date of the recall and information about a product, including a tracking number and expiration dates. Class III recalls are not distributed to the public but are available on FDA and USDA recall websites. To see a list of currently recalled food products or sign up for email alerts, visit:

FACT: In 2016, over 58 million pounds of meat, eggs, and poultry were recalled by the USDA.

Emergency Action Plans for Retail Food Establishments,

The Emergency Action Plans for Retail Food Establishments provides practical guidance for food service establishments to plan and respond to emergencies that create the potential for an imminent health hazard.

This guide contains Emergency Action Plans for:

  • Interruption of Electrical Service
  • Interruption of Water Service
  • Contaminated Water Supply (Biological)
  • Sewage Back-up
  • Fire
  • Flood

It is important that your facility has a plan in place to deal with each of these potential hazards.