Seattle is known as a restaurant town, with an abundance of choices. While I don’t consider myself a true Seattle foodie, I do enjoy the variety of restaurants available throughout our community. With the long weekend looming, I know I will hit that inevitable point where I can’t eat one more meal of turkey leftovers. It’s then that I’ll head to one of the many permitted restaurants in King County.
While the conversation with my foodie friends will likely focus on the restaurant ambiance or the mix of flavors, I’ll be thinking about all the behind-the-scenes work that takes place to ensure that food is not only beautifully plated—but also safe to eat.
During the recent Boil Water Advisory on Mercer Island, I had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the work of Public Health food inspectors. This past September, after water samples from Mercer Island showed the presence of E. coli, Public Health food inspectors immediately mobilized to inform restaurants about the situation.
Food inspectors went to all 62 permitted Mercer Island food establishments to inform restaurants of the boil water order. They also provided guidance to schools, childcare, and skilled nursing facilities on ways to operate safely during the boil-water order. When the boil-water advisory was lifted, health inspectors worked with each restaurant to get them back up and running and operating safely. The Seattle Times story was one of the many news outlets that featured the health inspector’s work during the boil-water advisory.
On a typical day, a Public Health food inspector will provide education and inspect approximately four restaurants. While the Mercer Island boil-water advisory was not a typical day, their years of experience, compassion for restaurant owners and knowledge of food safety practices were critical to helping restaurants manage such a challenging time.
So this weekend, I have something else to be thankful for: the committed health inspectors who work each day to reduce the chance that I would spend the rest of the weekend in the bathroom.
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