Food News and Views

Food News and Views

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Food News & Views includes many different topics of interest to food service managers and employees.  Below, you will find information about allergen training, a new requirement for food service establishments.  Other articles include information about temporary food service operations, core violations to note, and using a food thermometer. Most importantly, this webpage contains 2018 food service license renewal information.
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2018 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, 2017 to avoid late fees!

Additional late fees apply for applications received after May 1, 2017.

Multiple inspection fees are due at time of licensing.  A licensed fixed food service facility may have multiple locations that require an inspection.  The fee for a multiple inspection must be submitted at the time of licensing fee renewal.

New Allergen Requirements,

Food allergy awareness is on the rise.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of reported food allergy in children under the age of 18 increased 18% from 1997 to 2007.  Michigan lawmakers have responded by passing Public Act 516, which establishes new allergen requirements for foodservice facilities in Michigan. 

By January 14, 2017, one certified manager per facility shall:

 1) Complete approved allergen training and provide documentation

 2) Provide an approved allergen awareness poster in an area visible to staff

Approved Allergen Training Courses

  • National Restaurant Association On-line Allergen Training Course ($10 fee)
  • AllerTrain and AllerTrain U  ($22 Fee)
  • TAP Series Certified Food Allergen Awareness   ($19.95 Fee)
  • Michigan Food Allergens Training  ($9 Fee)

Find an approved allergen poster and links to approved courses here.

Who is exempt from the allergen training course requirement?

  • Any food establishment that is inspected directly by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
  • Local health department inspected food service establishments that are not required to have a certified manager, such as temporary establishments.
  • A certified food safety manager at a food service establishment with more than 20 locations in Michigan. See the official list of exempted locations at
  • Please note that these facilities are NOT exempt from posting an allergy awareness poster.

Don't delay!! Remember, 90% of all allergic reactions to food result from exposure to the eight major food allergens: Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Crustacean Shellfish, Soy, and Wheat.  Do your part to keep your customers safe.  Complete the allergen training and post an allergen awareness poster in an area visible to staff.


Certified managers should post their certificates so that staff and customers can view their successful work and dedication to food safety.  Even if a certificate is not on display, a copy must be available for a sanitarian to review during an inspection. 

Certification is valid for five years.  Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) offers initial ServSafe® certification and recertification courses on a regular basis in several locations throughout the county. A listing of upcoming courses can be viewed here. If you're interested in hosting a class, call 248-858-1312.

The ServSafe® textbook is an excellent tool for reviewing food safety information, training other staff, and applying food safety knowledge. Textbooks are available in a variety of languages including Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

During 2016, OCHD conducted 12 ServSafe® Food Service Management Certification classes and 12 Recertification classes.  Out of 350 students enrolled in these classes, 282 received certificates for an outstanding 81% pass rate.

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

Employee Health and Hygiene,

Improper employee hygiene is one of the most common ways for contamination of food to occur, but practicing proper employee hygiene can help prevent the spread of illnesses. Active management of the food facility includes ensuring that employees do not work when they are ill, and specific procedures are in place for restricting or excluding employees who could transmit germs.

To reduce the potential for contamination, employees must report illness symptoms to the person in charge of the facility. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Sore throat with fever
  • Infected cuts or wounds
  • See the 2009 Michigan Food Code, as amended, section 2-201.11 for further reference

The person in charge shall restrict or exclude the employee from working depending on the symptoms.

Employees will need to be excluded, or prohibited, from working at the facility if they are diagnosed or exposed to any of the 'Big 5':

  • Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli
  • Salmonella typhi
  • Shigella
  • Hepatitis A
  • Norovirus

Approval from the Health Department will be required before the excluded employee is allowed to return back to work.

There are ways to prevent the spread of disease:

  1. Restrict or exclude ill, or potentially ill, employees from working
  2. Use proper hand washing procedures
  3. Eliminate bare hand contact with food
  4. Wear clean uniforms (including hair restraint and limited jewelry)
  5. Have a designated area for employees to eat or drink

Using these interventions can help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses!

Basic Food Safety,

The Basic Food Safety Course is a free class offered through Oakland County Health Division. It 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 without the pressure of a standardized exam upon completion.

Chemical Sanitizers and Test Strips, Did you know that contaminated equipment is one of the five major risk factors contributing to a foodborne illness?  It takes more than soap and water to keep a food service establishment safe. 

Sanitizing of equipment, which reduces the number of harmful bacteria and viruses to safe levels, is done by using heat or chemicals. The equipment must first be washed in warm, soapy water and rinsed in clear water before it can be properly sanitized. Commonly used and approved chemical sanitizers include: chlorine (bleach), iodine, and quaternary ammonium. Make sure your sanitizer has an Environmental Protection Agency Registration Number (EPA REG#) to guarantee it is proven effective.

Every food service facility must have the appropriate sanitizer test kit to measure the chemical sanitizer concentration. It is important to remember that test kits are not interchangeable and you may need more than one different kind. Check with your chemical supplier to be certain you are using the correct test kit and read the instructions for use to ensure accurate results. You can find the manufacturer’s recommended concentration for sanitizing food contact surfaces on the label of the bottle. The test kit should then be used throughout the day to measure chemical sanitizer concentrations and kept in a dry, easily accessible location.

Core Violation Items to Know,

Aside from general cleaning and maintenance violations, there are additional core violations that may not be as obvious. They are important to note, because repeatedly cited violations can lead to further enforcement action, such as re-inspection fees and enforcement follow-ups. Below are a few core violation items that can be easily prevented.

Employee Hygiene: Make sure all employees are wearing a hair restraint (either a hat or hair net that fully covers the head) when handling exposed food and clean utensils. Personal food, drinks, and belongings (such as keys, phones, coats) need to be stored in a designated space below or away from all customer foods and clean equipment.

Food Storage: Make sure all foods are covered when not in use. Foods should not be stored directly on the floor, or under sources of contamination such as sinks, open stairwells, and unprotected drain lines. Working containers of ingredients that are not easily recognizable need to be labeled. This includes water, oil, flour, sugar, and corn starch.

Equipment Storage: Make sure all clean equipment and utensils are fully air-dried before putting them away. Store clean equipment in a manner similar to foods (see above).

Smooth and Easily Cleanable Surfaces: Certain materials such as cloth, untreated wood, and tape are absorbent, difficult to fully clean and are not approved materials for kitchen surfaces. Avoid putting towels under cutting boards (a rubber/silicone non slip pad is acceptable), using cardboard as a liner on shelves or floors, and duct tape on utensil handles or drains.

Mop Storage: Make sure mops are not stored in the mop bucket when not in use. Allow the mop heads to air dry between uses by propping or hanging up the mop.

Wiping Cloth Buckets: Make sure wet wiping cloths are stored in a bucket with sanitizer between uses. Check  the label of your approved sanitizer to determine the correct concentration for use with food contact surfaces.

Dumpster: Make sure dumpster lids remain shut between uses. The dumpster surroundings need to be clean and trash should be removed at a frequency to prevent the dumpster from overfilling.

A few simple checks at the start of each shift can help prevent enforcement against your facility.

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.

Temporary Food Event Guidelines,

In general, ALL food vendors (including those that are coming from a licensed facility) must provide the following items at each onsite event:

  • Hand washing set-up (including soap and paper towel) that is easily accessible to all employees using the set-up
  • Garbage can
  • Sanitizing test strips for sanitizer solution used (either quaternary ammonium, chlorine or iodine)
  • Sanitizer solution
  • Metal stem food thermometer
  • Gloves/tongs/deli tissue
  • Hats/hair restraints
  • Three part sink set up (or extra utensils) for those events that run longer than 4 hours or have complex procedures
  • Temperature logs for vendors bringing warm/cold food to the event from their licensed facility.
    • If a facility does not have a temperature log and the food is outside the allowable temperature range, the food may be discarded.
  • Protection from the environment: packaging, sneeze guards, tent

Individuals who conduct onsite preparation or who alter the temperature of the foods while on location must obtain a temporary food service license. Temporary licenses are good for one location for 14 consecutive days.

Temporary food service license applications are available on the OCHD website. Applications should be turned into the department at least three business days prior to the event (earlier for large events). Licenses are $54 if the application and payment are received at least two working days prior to the event; fees increase if applications and payment are received less than two working days prior.

Please adhere to the "ready to serve" time listed on the license applications. If a facility is not ready at the time specified, OCHD reserves the right to deny the temporary food service license. 

Thermometer Use,

A food thermometer is a vital piece of equipment that allows a food service operator to take the temperature of food. Probe thermometers are the most common and allow for taking internal temperatures. Temperatures should be taken of the food product at receiving, storage, cooking, cooling and reheating. The thermometer should range from 0°F to 220°F for these various processes.

If your thermometer is not calibrated, or if it is reading incorrectly, you may not be getting accurate results. The method most commonly used to check the calibration of a probe food thermometer uses an ice water slurry. Make an ice water slurry by filling a cup to the brim with ice, filling it with cold water and then adding more ice. Once the food thermometer reading has steadied in the ice water, it should read 32°F. If the food thermometer does not read 32°F, it will need to be recalibrated.

Many metal stem thermometers can be recalibrated by placing the calibration tool (or wrench) on the hex adjusting nut (just below the dial) and rotating until the thermometer dial reads 32°F. Keep the probe in the ice water slurry while adjusting. Some digital stemmed thermometers have a reset (or calibrate) button, while other digital stemmed thermometers cannot be calibrated by the user and must be sent back to the manufacturer. All thermometers should be checked regularly to determine accuracy.

Pest Control in Restaurants,

Controlling pests is vital to maintaining a sanitary and safe food service facility. For example, flies can readily spread the foodborne illness Shigellosis and contaminate food and eating utensils. 

The best way to control pests and prevent an infestation is to work routinely with a licensed pest control operator. A list of the pest control operators licensed in the state of Michigan can be found on the website. 

Ways to control pests between pest control operator visits:

  • Keeping outer openings, such as doors and windows, closed. This will prevent pests from entering the facility.
  • Cleaning the outside of the facility, including around the dumpster. This will decrease the accumulation of pests in the immediate area surrounding the facility, which will help prevent the pests from getting into the facility.
  • Cleaning the inside of the facility under grills and other cooking equipment where grease and food particles accumulate; these are prime places which attract pests. Also, clean any other areas which might be overlooked during routine cleanings, including floor drains and drain lines. 
  • Inspecting food upon delivery; check to ensure that no unwanted pests enter the facility in the food received from suppliers. 
  • Use only approved pest control devices for use in commercial kitchens.  Using pest control devices for home use (Ex. Raid and Hot Shot), which are not approved for use in a commercial kitchen, is unsafe and must be avoided.
Copper Mugs,

Copper mugs are often used to serve cold and hot beverages. One such beverage is the Moscow mule - a cocktail commonly made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice. Copper mugs are used to give an extra cool sensation by quickly conducting the chill of the beverage to the mug.

According to the 2009 Michigan Food Code, as amended, section 4-101.14: copper and copper alloys such as brass may not be used in contact with a food that has a pH below 6 such as vinegar, fruit juice, or wine or for a fitting or tubing installed between a backflow prevention device and a carbonator. This is because the acidity of the food item may pull the copper into the food or beverage and be consumed. If copper is ingested, it could be hazardous to one's health – leading to hospitalization, or even death, if the levels of copper in the body are too high.

Looking to the Moscow mule, the average pH of a beer is 4.0 and lime juice is 2.0-2.35. To help prevent people from getting sick from any beverage in a copper mug, ensure that the mugs have an interior liner, such as stainless steel, which will help prevent the copper from leaking into the beverage.