Preventing Foodborne Illness in Dane County
Every few months, foodborne illness outbreaks make national news. To help ensure that food from our local restaurants, bars, and grocery stores is safe to eat, our team of Public Health Sanitarians works in our communities alongside food establishment operators to eliminate food safety risk factors linked to illness.
Dane County has a lot of restaurants so this is no small feat! Our team of 12 sanitarians conducted over 2,700 inspections this year, including inspections of food served at temporary events like local fairs and farmer’s markets.
Although our Sanitarians record safety violations and issue citations if necessary, a more important aspect of the role is that of educator so that restaurant operators can be successful. Sanitarians spend much of their time working with operators to find solutions for system changes that prevent risky behaviors that contribute to people getting sick from food. This includes things like, eliminating cross contamination, keeping food at the right temperature, and instructing on proper handwashing. Check out our short video with one of our Sanitarians who explains the inspection process and why it is important.
In addition to working with establishments, we also track foodborne illness reports so we can address any possible outbreaks as quickly as possible. Without all of this work behind the scenes, we would have higher rates of foodborne illness.
Wondering how your favorite restaurant handles food safety? You can look up inspection reports on our website. Just remember, reports provide information on conditions observed by a Sanitarian at the time of inspection, and may not show corrective actions or current conditions.