Improving Food Safety Practices

At Risk Food Facilities

Increase the percentage of food facilities in an elevated risk tier that demonstrate improvement in their safe food handling practices to 85% by June 30, 2020.

Health Education Consultations

Conduct 40 Health Education Liaison Program (HELP) collaborative inspections at food facilities per fiscal year by June 30, 2020.

Why is this important?

Foodborne illnesses can be very serious and costly but they are preventable. Foodborne illness is often caused by eating unsafe foods or beverages. Restaurants often face challenges in ensuring all employees properly wash their hands; that all food is handled safely; that equipment is clean and food is kept at safe temperatures. One mistake in food safety can cause many people to become ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses each year in the United States¹.
Food facilities that have a higher risk for causing foodborne illness are considered an elevated risk facility. An elevated risk facility receives an elevated risk inspection in addition to the annual routine inspections. This elevated risk inspection is a new, complete inspection. At the conclusion, a new inspection score and grade card will be issued.
If at the end of the elevated risk inspection, the facility continues to pose a risk to public health, they are referred to our Health Education Liaison Program (HELP).
HELP is a collaborative effort between food facilities and our Environmental Health Services program to increase overall food safety by minimizing critical violations.

What are we working on?

Elevated Risk Plan
We have been working on an Elevated Risk Plan to improve food handling practices at food facilities that are at an increased risk of causing a foodborne illness. The plan consists of several strategies that help food operators learn, develop and implement their own food safety procedures to meet food safety regulations. Some of the strategies include:
  • Two scored routine (non-billable) and two scored elevated risk (billable) inspections;
  • A custom 5-minute educational video known as the Preliminary Education Presentation (PEP) talk that is given during inspections if facilities meet high-risk criteria;
  • A one-on-one onsite consultation completed by the Food Safety HELP staff;
  • A risk review meeting to verify food facility operators meet the terms of the compliance agreement made during the HELP consultation; and
  • A comprehensive class known as Liaison Education and Review Network (LEARN) where Active Managerial Control (AMC) is emphasized.
HELP is a two-step program. Step one, the consultation, provides food facilities identified as elevated risk with an opportunity to meet one-on-one with program staff. Operators are able to ask HELP staff questions and receive feedback to improve their operations. Step two, a risk review meeting, is held after the initial consultation. This informal meeting reviews the HELP consultation results, identifies progress made and provides an opportunity to discuss goals and solutions.
The consultation is a free service. The goal is to ensure each facility is operating at the highest level of food safety.

How are we doing?

We are measuring improvement during the elevated risk inspection after a PEP talk occurs. From January 2017 to June 2017, 214 restaurants in San Bernardino County were identified as having a higher risk of causing foodborne illnesses due to unsafe food handling and were required to receive an additional inspection. During these inspections, only 72.4% of these restaurants showed improvement. The target originally was ensuring at least 75% of the restaurants that have been identified with unsafe food handling show an overall improvement. However, in fiscal year 2017-18, on average, about 81% of food facilities improved after receiving a PEP talk over the course of the year. Shortly after, our goal's target increased to have at least 85% of the restaurants that have been identified with unsafe food handling show an overall improvement by June 30, 2020.  This fiscal year's data is currently being tracked and the chart below shows the percentage of improved facilities per month.  This data will help determine if this is a good strategy for improvement in safe food handling. 
Current Fiscal Year: 2019 - 2020
Previous Fiscal Years

What can you do?

Call 1-800-442-2283 if you suspect you have become ill due to consuming a food or beverage at a food facility or if you suspect/witness improper food safety practices.

Want more information?

For more information, please visit the DPH Environmental Health Services Site.

Last Update: 01/30/2020