Restaurants improving in food safety, but could still get better

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Every once in a while, you may encounter a food-borne illness after eating out at a restaurant or party.

Restaurants in the Magic Valley are inspected once a year. South Central Public Health officials say they receive a report of food poisoning every couple of weeks.

Although not all are confirmed cases, they take each report seriously. Protocol includes collecting the person's 3 day food history and symptoms before they visit the food establishment within 24 hours.

"It's not always the last meal that causes the food borne illness," said Melody Bowyer, Environmental Health Division Director of South Central Public Health District. "Sometimes we have the restaurant show us how a particular dish is prepared so we can have a better understanding what mightve caused the illness"

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in six Americans suffer a food borne disease and 3000 die from it each year.

Bowyer says training and active involvement of management on a day to day basis are areas that the food establishments in town can work on.

"In my experience, any restaurant with active managerial control, they do much better in food safety," she said.

However, she says restaurants in town are slightly improving in terms of inspections mainly due to the recent strengthening of the Idaho food code.

"They're requiring more training from the management and the employee and also there's a greater awareness of food safety out there," she said.

Additionally, each food establishment manager will be required to obtain a Servsafe certification. This will go in effect in the summer of 2018.

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