Food Digest - November 2018

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food digest

November 2018

In this issue

Important notice: the Minnesota Food Code has been revised


The Revised Minnesota Food Code will go into effect March 4, 2019 for Hennepin County licensed food establishments. The current updated draft is available here. Our customers with questions about the new code will benefit from reading the 20 Questions: The Proposed Major Changes of Concern to the Minnesota Food Code provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.  

Keep in mind that the revised code is not yet in effect. Until that time, the current code needs to be followed.

As a reminder, Hennepin County has a food ordinance which lists requirements that are in addition to or an expansion of the food code.

More information about the major changes to the food code and changes to the Hennepin County food ordinance will be available on our website in the coming months.


The everything drawer


In every busy, high-volume kitchen that I have ever been in, there is a forgotten place where things go to die and grow new life. I am referring to the “everything drawer” or the bucket, or the bin, or the shelf. It is the place where everyone’s least favorite pens go. The place where the towels that no one likes are stashed. Equipment and utensils that no one is sure of the use of anymore get put inside. If it is sort of broken, it’s probably inside. This is the “everything drawer.” The main issue with these forgotten spaces is not what is put inside, but what is growing inside. 


Over time, when business is flourishing and staff members are industriously making good things happen, all of the accumulated stuff in that bin and accompanying oils and germs are having a hazard-making party. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and other problem-causing friends are in that bucket. Studies have demonstrated that 25 percent of the time there will be E. coli on that cotton towel, and if it has not been washed for a while that risk goes up to 90 percent.


unorganized area


It is easier said than done of course, but managing this potential problem is simple: Remove the everything drawer and clean the space. Routinely. Put it on the cleaning schedule. Remember that people are habitual and will repeatedly put things back into that drawer unless they are given an alternative. It can be a test to identify these types of spaces simply because they get utilized by habit and are effortlessly overlooked. I challenge your team to spend some time identifying the forgotten places in your kitchen. Practice at home if you want; I am sure that the bottom interior of my utensil crock (which sits right next to my stove) is truly disgusting. I will clean it tonight.

Retirement news -- longtime Hennepin County inspector retires


In June of 2018, after 37 years with Hennepin County Environmental Health, supervisor Debra Anderson retired. Debra was one of the first health inspectors with the county and has been instrumental in many decision-making processes. She has trained and standardized more people than we could count and was always a resource inspectors turned to for help.

Deb loved the variety that our work affords us -- even after 37 years she saw new things and was always learning. The people are what Deb enjoyed most about her job. While being interviewed for an internal newsletter earlier this year, Deb stated the following about our customers:

"They are great people to deal with, and more and more as the years have passed they realize that we're both trying to accomplish the same thing and that we're here to help them run their businesses better. It's become much more of a collaboration."

Deb plans to do a lot of traveling now that she's retired. She's also a competitive figure skater and is working on passing the next level. 

We miss Deb but wish her well in retirement!


When to call the health department


It's not a good day when something goes wrong in your food establishment. When there's a fire, possible foodborne illness outbreak, power outage, or any other major issue, there's a lot of parties that need to be notified. The health department is one of those.

For all of you loyal readers out there, you might remember the article from February 2018 Food digest titled "Hennepin County food ordinance reminder -- grounds for emergency closure". In particular that piece covered when a food operator might need to discontinue food operation and call the health department. Below is a great supplement to that article and it is offered here for easy posting. We suggest finding a highly visible place in your kitchen for it, and remember:  When in doubt, call us at 612-543-5200.

If any of the situations below are occurring or have recently occurred in your facility, call the health department!


Fire, flood, or any time an emergency closure is needed (cannot re-open without approval) 

Sewage or grey water backup (anywhere in building)

Significant power outage

Significant structural damage to building (i.e., a car drives through the window, tornado, and storms)

No water and/or no hot water

Misuse of poisonous or toxic chemicals

Illness outbreak (customers or employees) 

Customer complaint of vomiting or diarrhea (even if it’s just one person)

Employee or customer diagnosed with one of the big 5 (Norovirus, E. coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella, Hepatitis A)

Call anytime if you have questions or concerns!

Main office: 612-543-5200

After hours emergency line (answered 24/7): 612-543-5217

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

Public swimming pool regulations

About us

Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin County Public Health Department. Articles are meant to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and operators. Topics focus on food safety and requirements from the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County food ordinance.



1011 First Street S, Suite 215
Hopkins, MN 55343-9413

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Past issues

Previous issues of Food digest available in our archive.

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Hannah Marschinke


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