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Health Department Announces Changes to Food Inspection Program

(Mason City) – The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is announcing new changes to their food inspection program effective immediately.

In 2010, Cerro Gordo County reduced their regional food inspection responsibilities from 15 counties to those retail food operations within Cerro Gordo County. This change was implemented so that a new approach to how the Health Department assesses retail food operations could be researched, developed and implemented. The Health Department is now utilizing a system based approach with their food safety program. One of the more notable changes to the program is a shift from an “inspector” model to a “consultant” model. As consultants, Cerro Gordo County staff will work with retail food managers and/or owners to develop a partnership that helps operators understand the complexities of food safety practices, identify the root causes of food code infractions and prevent reoccurrences for the long term.

“We are changing the way we do business,” said Brian Hanft, Environmental Health Service Manager. “Instead of reacting to problems that arise in retail food operations, we are establishing a proactive approach to discuss issues and concerns with managers and owners about why problems are occurring, investigate ways to solve the problems together and then apply solutions to keep the problems from re-occurring.”

In addition to implementing a consultant approach, the Health Department has created a new food safety manual that will be distributed to most retail food operations over the course of the next several months. The Health Department gleaned this idea from the National Park Service Food Safety Program and the Olmstead County Department of Public Health in Minnesota, both who have similar food assessment programs. “This tool has been created so that anyone in the food safety business can use it, from the retail operators to the general public,” Hanft said. Hanft would like to give special recognition to Dixie Fullerton and Dan Ries, both Environmental Health Specialists for dedicating a lot of time and effort toward the creation and implementation of the new program.

The food safety manual is available online at no cost for anyone to view and download. To access the manual, visit our website There is a link to the manual on our front page. For additional information about the food inspection program, please call (641) 421-9336 or visit our website.

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