As the city of Beaumont continued to recover from Harvey Wednesday, several southeast Texas restaurants had already reopened for business.
While the lighted open signs were a sign of progress, some viewers wondered how safe the food was to eat, especially while concerns continued to spread on social media about the city's water system.
12 News wanted to "Verify" what was being done to keep you safe. So, we contacted Beaumont's Health Services Director Sherri Ulmer to find out. Her office covers 1,100 food establishments in the city, and she said certified sanitarians, or food inspectors, were already visiting restaurants to make sure those establishments were following proper protocols for reopening following Harvey.
The emergency reopening guidelines were set by the Texas Department of State Health Services and were just updated Sept. 1 -- after Harvey struck. The guidelines offer a section dealing specifically with food safety with power and no water -- a situation many restaurants in Beaumont were still facing Wednesday.
Among the mandates were the following:
- In order to reopen without water, the food establishment must have access to water from another approved source such as bottled water, or water from a hauler with a covered sanitized container.
- Food preparation surfaces, cooking equipment, and utensils must be washed with clean, soapy water.
- The establishment should use only disposable paper products, like plates and cups, and plastic single service eating utensils.
- All food must be cooked and served immediately.
- The establishment must create a temporary hand wash facility using a water cooler with a spigot and a catch basin.
>> Read a full list of requirements at the very bottom of this story.
So, 12 News can verify restaurants and other food establishments CAN open in the City of Beaumont, despite the water issues, as long as they follow specific safety guidelines. And, as long as they're following the guidelines, they should be safe places to eat. If you have concerns about a particular establishment you can contact Ulmer's office at 409-832-4000.
SOURCE: Beaumont Health Services Director Sherri Ulmer
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