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We Are Multnomah County
Environmental Health Specialist
Narrator: My name is Michael McLuckie and I'm an environmental health specialist for Multnomah County Health Department.
Originally I went to college with the intent to study optometry, but really enjoyed my environmental health course work so graduated with a degree in environmental health. That was 23 years ago and I've been working as an environmental health specialist ever since.
Today I’m inspecting restaurants, although I am licensed to inspect everything from swimming pools and spas to schools and outdoor festivals.
Since each restaurant is different, one of the first things I do is look at their menu. This tells me what kinds of foods they are storing, preparing, and cooking, and where hazards may exist.
All licensed food service establishments in Multnomah County receive two routine, unannounced inspections each year. The inspection reports are maintained in a searchable database which can be accessed online.
I always wash my hands twice before beginning an inspection to make sure I am not a source of contamination.
I test to make sure refrigerated foods are stored at temperatures below 41 degrees. Any thing higher than 41 degrees increases the likelihood of bacterial growth that could cause food-borne illness.
My inspections are very thorough. I check to see that there are no cross-contamination issues when foods are stored and prepared.
I check to see that prepared foods like salads are labeled with an expiration date and that each refrigerator has a thermometer.
I check walk-in refrigerators to make sure they are organized correctly and maintain food temperatures below 41 degrees.
I check to see temperatures inside walk-in freezers are sufficient to keep foods frozen, not allowing anything to thaw which could lead to dripping and cross-contamination.
I take samples of dishwasher chemical concentrations to make sure that cookware is being cleaned and sanitized.
I review employee records to make sure that all food services workers have undergone the required food handler’s training.
I spot check temperatures of cooking meats to make sure temperatures are sufficient to kill disease causing bacteria, and check temperatures of cooked foods to ensure they are hot enough to prevent bacterial growth.
And I also check to make sure that rodent bait and insect traps are properly installed in areas around the restaurant.
Most restaurant owners have the same goal as I do—to make sure the food they serve is safe from harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food-borne illness. That would be bad for their business, bad for their reputation and bad for their customers.
I see my job in food safety as a way to help them achieve our mutual goal. And I’m just one of 24 environmental health specialists inspecting more than 39,000 restaurants and food carts in Multnomah County. And we're proud of the work we do.