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1. What inspired you to get into your profession?
When I was in college, during breaks I was performing asbestos abatement for a private company. I got paid a lot of money however it was grueling work. We would be toiling in our PPE sweating in 100+heat, in tight and dark spaces, using jackhammers, etc. Once in a while a guy would show up, spend maybe 5 minutes in the danger
zone, collect some samples and get back out. I noticed he wore a suit and drove a new BMW. I asked him what he did and he replied he was an industrial hygienist. So this guy has a cushy job making way more money than me. That’s when I decided to go into this field. However, I made the mistake of working for the government. Instead of a BMW I have a 2003 Pathfinder with almost 200k miles.The saying is “You won’t get rich working in government but you will get a chance to make a positive difference”.
2. In laymans terms what is the nature of your work?
In short, you go to the doctor if you are sick. It is my job to make it so you don’t need to see the doctor. A longer description is; An Environmental Health Program (EHP) is to protect the welfare of the public that the program serves. An EHP helps to protect through a variety of programs that promote healthy environmental conditions and reduce risks associated with communicable disease. The typical duties of an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) include food service inspections, well and septic inspections, child care center inspections, public pool and spa inspections, tanning establishment inspections, massage therapy inspections, plan review of food service facilities, nuisance investigations, and unsanitary living conditions inspections. While these are the main roles of the EHO, there are many other items that the EHO responds to. For example, questions and complaints regarding radon, lead, mold, tobacco smoke, pest control, West Nile virus, and other emerging health issues.
3. The toughest and most rewarding parts of your work?
In this line of work we deal with the public a lot. Good customer service is first and foremost a job requirement. I love working together with the facility owners helping people understand the science behind what we do. I enjoy teaching and coaching and seeing the look of comprehension when explaining a difficult concept. I like knowing that what I do makes a difference even if it is often not seen by the public. The toughest part is having to resort to citations to get compliance with laws. It feels like I have failed to get the facility to understand the importance of the laws. I feel like a disappointed father because I feel that these are “my” facilities and they should know better.
4. Best and worst story you can share with us?
Best - We made the switch to the FDA Model Food Code a couple years ago ahead of next year’s deadline. It involved a tremendous amount of time and effort to get our facilities into compliance. We were able to see the process work the way it is intended when we had a food borne illness complaint come in. We performed a traceback investigation at the facility in question and were able to determine with significant certainty that they were probably not the source of the illness. If the facility had not converted to the new Code there would not have been the amount of evidence necessary to draw such a conclusion.
Worst – We had received a complaint about a restaurant that served crispy chicken. When our inspector showed up they saw a stray dog running away with what looked like something in its mouth. During the inspection the inspector noticed the door to the back of the facility was wide open. Sure enough there were about 20 whole raw chickens on a cart just sitting in an alley, marinating. There were flies everywhere because of the filthy dumpsters located nearby. When we asked the owner why they did it this way, they said that was how they did it at home. It’s one thing to get your family sick, a whole other thing to affect the public..
5. What is your training, and affiliations ?
Member of the National Environmental Health Association and President of the Illinois affiliate. https://ieha.
B.S in Public Health from Northern Illinois University, member of the State Board of Health, past member of the McHenry County Board of Health. Licensed Environmental Health Practitioner, Registered Sanitarian, Certified Professional – Food Safety, et al.
6. Can you tell us about your jurisdiction ?
We have about 270 facilities we inspect.
7. What are the challenges in your jurisdiction?
In many jurisdictions the “mom and pop” facilities have a harder time affording the citations. If the owner needs money to the fix an issue in the first place, writing a ticket for $500 isn’t going to help the situation. Citations are a last resort and typically because the owner is taking no action at all.
8. How have you used Iwaspoisoned.com as part of your workflow?
As part of my career I try to keep up with new ideas and technologies. We had noticed that complaints of food facilities would end up on Yelp and rarely would be reported to us. Yelp does not forward illness complaints in our jurisdiction to our office. That is a service that Iwaspoisoned.com provides. This allows us to go out and confirm or deny if there is an issue. Public health is to protect and stop outbreaks from occurring. Iwaspoisoned.com assists us in doing that.
9. Has Iwaspoisoned.com been helpful?
If we can stop an outbreak from getting worse there is tremendous value in that.
10. What are the challenges, and what can consumers do to help ?
One challenge is when the consumer does not interact with us after the report is made. We always try to follow up, but if we receive no response from the complainant it is difficult to make progress. We urge consumers, if you have a complaint and we try to contact you, please respond. Creating an initial report is important, but it is just the start, the follow up is critical to making progress.
11. To other tech forward states & counties interested in integrating Iwaspoisoned.com into their process - how would you recommend they do that?
Assign a person or group to be responsible for the intake of complaints. Typically a supervisor or manager that has email access 24 hours a day. You don’t want all inspectors to respond to a complaint and you want only one voice in your responses back to complainants to avoid confusion.
12. What other technology have you integrated to help with your work?
When Illinois passed legislation to adopt the FDA Code we realized that we would either have to order all new inspection forms or we could switch to digital. When we did a search in Google Play and the Apple App Store we couldn’t find any health inspection apps so we created one. We worked for months with a company called Snappii to design it and troubleshoot it. While it is not perfect, it is designed to get an inspector out in the field asap. As part of the design of the app we negotiated with Snappii to allow the basic version to be offered for free. Look up FDA Health Inspection or Food Safety Inspection by Snappii https://www.snappii.
Recent Interesting Reports
October 8, 2020 12:10 AM
“On October 7th had lunch with my Dad and he got sick 20 minutes after we left the restaurant and I had stomach troubles all evening and night ”
October 3, 2020 10:30 AM
“Ok so I ordered the impossible Burger with lettuce, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese with mayo, ketchup, bbq and grilled pineapple slice on October 3,2020 at 9:30pm from here. I normally eat this and more on my burgers and don’t have any issues and have ate later and been fine. But this morning... on October 4,2020 at 7am a bomb was brewing in my body from that impossible burger dear God. So I dropped the kids off at the pool and then dropped them off again and then dropped about 5 times all together thru that end. The burger was not as big as what came out of me it was like a 12hr Detox and cleared everything out of my stomach literally I didn’t know that much was in there I was amazed and shocked. Then I thought I was good but then the hot salt taste approached my throat n mouth and I knew what was going to take place next. So I forced forced myself to drink as much water as possible Because it is KEY and A MUST to make it easier to come up (I know this from past experiences when I was 21 With ulcers I threw up everyday for 6 months due to too much acid production due to stress n anxiety. I’m now 34 ulcer free since 22 and zero issues with my stomach prior to this meal) then I got super hot almost passed out and then proceeded to throw up violently shaking and got scared. I threw up 2 times and threw up A LOT! I didn’t even finish the impossible burger I ate a little more then half not even 3/4 and the burger was a normal size of your fist round maybe a 3/4 to 1 inch thickness. I also ate 4 onion rings because I ordered half n half option where you get half fries (I got sweet potato) and half onion rings. I ate half of the fries and I drank maybe 2 inches of a fountain Dr Pepper that I ordered from them as well. I have never thrown up or gone to the bathroom THAT MUCH in my life unless I’m doing a cleanse. So I would say this is great for a cleanse but I wasn’t Paying for or expecting that so my experience was terrible. Pros: I am 10lbs lighter literally I should have took a before pic but I weighed myself last night and this morning after all this I lost 10lbs literally. Since that episode that lasted for 30 min nonstop of continuous going to the bathroom and throwing up twice , ive been ok other then a slightly sore throat from the acid in my stomach that burned (which is why water is key to drink even when you know you’re going to vomit it stops the harsh acid burn during and after must be done throwing up before taking a teaspoon of honey it helps the burn after) hope this helps somebody. I tried to be as thorough as possible. I felt fine after I got it out of my system but it was most definitely that Impossible Burger and not food poisoning. I have had food poisoning before and you usually sick for 12hours possibly more and like I said prior from 7-730am I was in bad shape and after that I’m back normal minus 10lbs LITERALLY! ”
September 29, 2020 12:38 AM
“Bad Piece of Fish. I had bought this frozen pre-packaged bag that contained 4 pieces of salmon a few weeks ago. I ate two within the past month ago and then decided to eat one today. The salmon was cooked throughly. About 4 hours later I had a really bad headache, slight fever, abdominal pain, and t... hen vomited. ”
Chef Boyardee Beefaroni, Walmart Neighborhood Market, 665 N Murray Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80915, United States
October 6, 2020 12:46 PM
“My wife got sick within an hour of eating a 7.5oz microwavable Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. Headache, Head swirling, nausea and vomiting. Threw the rest of their products away. ”
October 5, 2020 7:02 PM
“Got 2 super tacos around 9pm Saturday night. Went home, ate them, got into bed around 1145pm. Woke up around 1:30am feeling awful, extreme intestinal cramping, loose stools and nausea. Symptoms persisted all night to the point I was unable to sleep. Went to Urgent care the next day after vomiting be... gan for Flu and Covid test to be safe, both came back negative. Got prescribed Zofran. Couldn't get prescription, that evening. That night same story, so sick I couldn't sleep. Took a day off work, diarrhea turned into a yellowish mucus, got the Zofran. By then nausea wasn't so bad and all discomfort/pain moved into intestines. Finally managed to nap from 1pm to 3:15pm, had a verified fever of 101.7. Fever broke multiple times during nap. Symptoms persist 2 days after eating there. I'll NEVER eat there again. ”
September 29, 2020 2:59 AM
“Got a 20 piece tongue torch traditional, fri I drive through for about 30 min got them at no charge went home, ate 8 wings did not taste right by around midnight had enormous violtal throw upfor 3 days 2 to 3 hrs after only eating 8 wings out of 20 ”
October 23, 2020 5:37 AM
“I bought two bottles of milk from there with an expiry date of 23rd October 2020.
My mother drank tge milk on 21st October 2020.
She is a visitor in UK.
Now she can't get even medical treatment as a visitor and milk expired 2 days before its expiry. ”
October 12, 2020 9:14 PM
October 4, 2020 8:26 PM
“I purchased 8 pieces of chicken today (10/4/2020) around 1:00 pm. My grandson, his mom and dad, started having stomach pain and diarrhea about 6 hours after eating the chicken. I was the only one that didn't get sick because I didn't eat any of it. ”