Food Digest - February 2018


February 2018



Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin County Public Health Department. It is meant to support and educate Hennepin County licensed food establishment owners and operators utilizing the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County’s Ordinance 3: Food Protection.

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Hannah Marschinke

A common violation found in licensed kitchens and bars

dirty dishes


If your licensed establishment has a dish machine it's important to frequently check that it is working properly. A common violation found during inspections is low or no sanitizer present (if a chemical sanitizer is used) or the wash and/or rinse water temperature is too low (if a hot water sanitizing machine is used). There needs to be a data plate visible (from the machine's manufacturer) that details the machine's design and operating specifications.

If a chemical sanitizer is used there needs to be appropriate sanitizer test strips on-site and the dish machine should be checked often to ensure the sanitizer is pumping properly. If the machine was installed after September 8, 1998 there must also be a visual or audible device indicating when the machine needs more sanitizer.

The three most common sanitizing chemicals found in licensed kitchens and bars are chlorine, quaternary ammonium, and iodine. For the specific requirements of temperature, concentration, pH, and hardness related to each of these sanitizers, visit this section of the Minnesota Food Code.

If hot water is used as a sanitizer, the temperature gauges and flow pressure gauge must be functioning and easy to see.

The inspector may require the dish machine to be shut down and warewashing to cease if the machine is not functioning properly. Normal kitchen functions may need to stop until the issue gets fixed. 

Dish machines will not always work perfectly, but checking the machine throughout the day and having preventive measures in place will make dealing with issues much easier. In addition, training all staff and knowing what to do in the event of a malfunction is good practice.

clean dishes


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Hennepin County food ordinance reminder -- grounds for emergency closure

ordinance reminder

Hennepin County Food Protection Ordinance 3 lists requirements (that are in addition or an expansion to the Minnesota Food Code 4626 rules) that pertain to licensed food establishments within Hennepin County Health Department's jurisdiction.

The spotlight from the food ordinance that we are featuring this quarter is: grounds for emergency closure (when a food operator may be required to discontinue all operations of the food establishment).

Hennepin County Ordinance 3, Section 6. states the following:

If any of the following conditions exist, the operator may be ordered to discontinue all operations of the food establishment until such time as the Health Authority confirms the correction of the violation:

  • Failure to possess a license required by this Ordinance
  • Evidence of a sewage backup in a food preparation, food storage, or utensil washing area
  • Lack of potable, plumbed, hot or cold water to the extent that hand washing, utensil washing, food preparation, or toilet facilities are not operational
  • Lack of electricity or gas service to the extent that hand washing, utensil washing, food preparation, lighting, or toilet facilities are not operational
  • Evidence of an ongoing illness associated with the operation of the establishment
  • Significant damage to the food establishment due to tornado, fire, flood, or other disaster
  • Evidence of an infestation of rodents or other vermin
  • Evidence of cross contamination, filthy conditions, untrained staff, or poor personal hygiene
  • Lack of an effective means of sanitizing dishes or utensils
  • Anytime a public health nuisance, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, Section 145A.02 subdivision 17, exists

This section of our food ordinance goes hand in hand with the section of the Minnesota Food Code (4626.1795) that covers when licensees are required to report the occurrence of an emergency to the regulatory authority (e.g., Hennepin County Environmental Health). This is what is stated in that section of the Food Code:

A licensee shall notify the regulatory authority immediately if an imminent health hazard may exist because of a fire, flood, extended interruption of electrical or water service, sewage backup, misuse of poisonous or toxic materials, onset of an apparent foodborne illness outbreak, or other emergency circumstance that may endanger public health.



    If any of these or other emergencies occur, the health department must be called as soon as possible. We always have an inspector on call (even outside of normal business hours, on weekends, and holidays). You can contact our office at 612-543-5200. If it is outside of normal business hours or a holiday there will be a recording with a number to call to get in touch with the on call inspector.

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    Web resources


    Visit for information on:

    • General environmental health
    • Basic food safety classes
    • Temporary food stand licensing
    • Food license information, categories, and fee schedule
    • New construction or remodeling application

    Radon information and test kits 

    Septic system requirements and procedures

    Body art licensing information (tattooing and piercing) 

    Beaches in Hennepin County


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