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Food Facilities FAQs

1.  How does Environmental Health make restaurants safer?

Environmental Health Specialists inspect all food facilities twice a year, looking at how food is handled, stored, and prepared; the personal hygiene and habits of the employees; and the general cleanliness of the facility. The Environmental Health Specialist has access to the entire food facility, but as a consumer, you can also view some of these things from the dining area. If you would like to see an inspection report on a food facility, the food facility operator will provide a copy of the most recent inspection report for review by the public upon request. You can also look in our Restaurant Ratings link to review a facility's inspection score, grade and any violations they may have had at the time of inspection.

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2.  Is it a violation of the law for a food handler to touch food with his/her bare hands?

The California Retail Food Code does not prohibit bare hand contact with food as long as the food handler complies with the strict hand washing requirements as required by law and does not engage in any activity which could contaminate food. Environmental Health strongly encourages the use of utensils (scoops, forks, tongs, paper wrappers, gloves, etc.) whenever possible to minimize bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. To obtain more information, please view our hand washing flyers available in English and Spanish.

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3.  How do I report a food facility for health code violations?

Environmental Health investigates consumer complaints regarding food safety and sanitation at all retail food facilities in San Bernardino County. If you have a consumer complaint regarding a San Bernardino County food facility, please call 909-884-4056 to report the complaint. Please provide the name and address of the facility you want investigated and explain the conditions you are reporting. You may also complete the Online Complaint Form.

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4.  I think I got sick from food. How do I file a report?

All possible foodborne illnesses that are reported to Environmental Health are investigated. If you believe that you became ill due to a food product purchased in San Bernardino County you may call 909-884-4056 to report the incident. Be prepared to answer questions about the onset time, duration, and types of symptoms. Try to compile a list of all foods and drinks consumed for up to two days prior to the first signs of illness, as this information is critical for the investigation. You may also complete the Online Complaint Form. Some commercially distributed prepackaged foods are regulated by other State and Federal agencies. Environmental Health can assist in making referrals to the correct agency.

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5.  My refrigerator door was accidentally left open overnight. Can I still eat the food inside?

The answer to this question depends on the temperature of the food and how long it was held without refrigeration. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature on the inside of the food. If the food is not above 41°F, then it should be safe to eat. If the food has been above 41°F, then it is critical to determine how long it has been above 41°F. If the food has been above 41°F for less than two hours, it should be safe for immediate use. If the food has been above 41°F for more than two hours, then it is safest to discard these items.

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6.  What is the required holding temperature for hot/cold food?

Minimum hot holding temperatures and maximum cold holding temperatures are only required for potentially hazardous foods. Potentially hazardous foods are foods that are capable of supporting the rapid growth of disease causing microorganisms (e.g. meat, dairy, poultry, fish, and other high moisture/ protein foods). Potentially hazardous foods must be held at or below 41°F or at or above 135°F.

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7.  What is the required cooking temperature for hamburger, pork and poultry?

Foods that contain ground beef need to be cooked until the internal temperature is 155°F for 15 seconds. Pork must be cooked until the internal temperature is 145°F for 15 seconds. Poultry must be cooked until the internal temperature is 165°F for 15 seconds. Measuring the internal temperature with a metal-stemmed probe thermometer is the only safe way of determining when the product properly cooked.

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8.  Can you test my food to see if there is anything wrong with it?

Environmental Health does not routinely perform laboratory testing on food products in the possession of the consumer. If testing is conducted, it is usually done as part of an ongoing investigation. The Environmental Health Specialist in charge of the investigation will ask for a product release from the consumer if testing is necessary. If you would like a product tested for your own information, there are a number of private analytical testing laboratories listed in the telephone directory that have the ability to test food. They are listed in the yellow pages under Laboratories.

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9.  What do code dates mean on food products?

Manufacturers of baby formula are required to date their products. After this date, these products must be removed from sale. However, with all other packaged food products, code dates are voluntary. These dates are a recommended by the manufacture for quality assurance. These products may remain available for sale even though they have gone past their expiration date.

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10.  What do I have to do to start a food business out of my home?

Food preparation/distribution is not allowed at home without a health permit/registration. If you would like to prepare and sell non-potentially hazardous food from home, you must apply for a Cottage Food Operations registration or health permit with the County of San Bernardino, Division of Environmental Health Services. Before you are able to apply for this registration or health permit, you must have approval from your local city planning department. If you live in a County area, you must obtain approval from the County Land Use Services Department. Although a Cottage Food Operations permit/registration will allow you to prepare and sell food from home, there are restrictions that apply. For more information, please see our Cottage Food Operations page.

Please note: Potentially hazardous food cannot be prepared at or distributed from a home.

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11.  What do I have to do to open a food facility and obtain a health permit?

If you intend to build a food facility from the ground up or remodel an existing building that has never been a food facility you will need to submit plans to our Plan Check Program prior to any construction. Please refer to our Plan Check link for additional information.

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12.  I'm thinking of buying an existing food business. What do I need to do?

You will need to obtain a Health Permit from Environmental Health Services in your name as permits are not transferable. Contact our office and check to see if the facility will need to go through our Plan Check process.

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13.  What is Vibrio vulnificus?

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium in the same family that causes cholera. These bacteria normally live in warm seawater such as in the Gulf of Mexico and are commonly associated with live or raw oysters that are consumed. Vibrio vulnificus can infect the bloodstream causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are 50% fatal.

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14.  How do I get a San Bernardino County food handler's card?

Please use the link to our food handler page for additional information on how to obtain or renew a food handler certificate.

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