January 16, 2019

Food Handling Procedures Not Followed in Denver Rescue Mission Outbreak

According to a press release, Denver Rescue Mission said the Lawrence Street Shelter “did not follow our established procedures for handling pre-prepared food donations on Sunday, July 22, which is often receives. We are working closely with officials at Environmental health and Denver Public Health regarding Sunday’s incident. We are taking this matter very seriously by thoroughly examining internal procedures for food safety.”

food poisoningThe shelter is not serving pre-prepared food until health officials complete their investigation into what caused the outbreak. Sixty people were hospitalized in the outbreak. All of those hospitalized have been treated and released.

The Mission did not say exactly which procedures were not followed. Procedures for safe food handling include heating food to safe internal temperatures, holding food at temperatures above 140 degrees F so bacteria do not multiply, proper hand washing, and storing food at temperatures below 40 degrees F. It’s also possible that the food was left out of refrigeration longer than 2 hours, it was improperly cooled before transfer, or the food may have been contaminated before it reached the shelter.

The USDA has compiled a fact sheet on Cooking for Groups that helps volunteers prepare and serve food safe for large groups. That information is not intended for commercial facilities and is not the same as the FDA food code. It may also differ from state and local regulations, but it’s a useful guide to help volunteers serving food at community gatherings.

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