Jefferson County, Colo. — Ensuring that our community has access to safe, healthy and contaminant-free food is a core pillar of public health. At Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH), our Environmental Health Services team works diligently with retail food establishments, including restaurants, grocery stores, school cafeterias, food trucks and more, to make sure food safety standards are met. This September for National Food Safety Education Month, we encourage all members of our community to learn more about how to prevent foodborne illness and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
According to the CDC [external link], 1 in 6 people in the U.S. will get sick with a foodborne illness each year. The good news is that rates of foodborne illness are far lower than they were decades ago, before strong food safety standards were implemented into law and the science around how to keep food safe at home had advanced.
“We now know there are many ways to prevent foodborne illnesses before they even happen,” said Mindi Ramig, Environmental Health Supervisor and Retail Food Safety Program Manager at JCPH. “Luckily, most families can prevent serious infection and illness by taking steps at home in their own kitchens to keep food safe. Our team is here to do the rest.”
The team at JCPH conducts inspections at more than 2,000 retail food establishments in Jefferson County each year, and each inspector works collaboratively with these facilities to help ensure robust food safety education, awareness and compliance with state laws and regulations. The results of these inspections are available for all members of the public to access, and JCPH encourages our community members to check out the food safety reports [external link] from restaurants in their area as they choose where to eat. From January 2021 through May 2022, 89 percent of all retail food establishments received a passing health inspection.
But food safety doesn’t stop at the door of a restaurant or grocery store. There are a number of important tips residents can follow to prevent foodborne illnesses at home, but the top four simple steps to remember are: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
Clean: Wash your hands and cooking surfaces in your kitchen, dining area or any other prep area often.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate!
Cook: Right item, right temperature.
Chill: Refrigerate food promptly.
Even with all these steps, the reality is that some cases of foodborne illness will be identified and diagnosed in our community each year. If you or a loved one are concerned you may have gotten sick from food, please report it to the Environmental Health Services team at JCPH using our food-related illness form. Quick reporting helps us quickly identify sources of foodborne outbreaks and prevents more people from possibly getting sick.
To learn more about food safety efforts at JCPH, please visit our website. In addition, Jeffco community members can access education and resources around food safety at:
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH [external link], Instagram @JeffcoPH [external link] and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth [external link].