Folks may recall the story about the Furrs Cafeteria employee in Corpus Christi who was photographed in her stocking feet. I wrote about it in Shoeless Employee Leads to Health Department Inspection. Well, I wrote to the Corpus Christi Health Department since as far as I could tell, there is no regulation requiring that the employee have shoes on.
I got back a reply.
First, here’s the picture of the employee.
As I said, as far as I can tell, there is no regulation requiring shoes on food service employees. The only regulation is that outer clothing be clean.
So, here’s the note I wrote to the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District.
I happened upon this story, <http://www.kztv10.com/news/shoeless-restaurant-worker-leads-to-surprise-inspection-at-furrs-cafeteria-on-port-ave-/> (note: it looks like this link has expired), from KZTV regarding an employee of Furrs Cafeteria who was photographed working in her stocking feet.
According to the article, “The Health Department tells us the manager and assistant manager told the inspector all employees have been told to keep their shoes on.”
I’m having trouble understanding how the Health Department is involved. The Texas Food Code requires that “Food employees shall wear clean outer clothing to prevent contamination of food, equipment, utensils, linens, and single-service and single-use articles.”
As far as I can tell, socks are just as clean as any shoes that the employee might have otherwise worn. Furthermore, it’s not as if the employee was touching any of the food with her feet.
Is the Health Department really concerned about the employee working in this condition? In fact, as far as I can tell, the employee could even have been working barefooted without the Health Department having any cause to get involved. Am I right?
I finally got a reply. Here it is.
Thank you for your inquiry. The Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health District is charged by State law, City code and County rules with the responsibility for providing public health programs in Corpus Christi. Our Environmental Services Division is responsible for permitting food establishments within Corpus Christi and Nueces County.
The Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) does not state any requirement concerning shoes; however, wearing of “closed toe” shoes is a very important safety matter for individuals working within eating establishments to prevent accidents including: accidents caused by slippery kitchen floors, grease spills, hot water spills, falling pots and pans, broken glass, to name a few. It is our job to ensure eating establishments have been educated on the best ways to prevent accidents and provide the best service to the public.
I hope I have answered your concern. Have a great day. Thank you.
That really is a non-answer.
Nope, no requirement. But an attempted justification for ordering the restaurant to do what the Health Department has no authority to mandate. What? They think they’re OSHA now?
And the stuff about “closed toe” shoe is just tommyrot. Waiters/waitresses wear all sorts of footwear that exposes skin. Here’s part of one I found on flickr of a waitress in Ontario.
If you are concerned about spills of grease and hot water, there sure is a lot of exposed skin there. What does an open or closed toe have to do with it? How does that help a falling pot or pan?
It’s like they’ll make up any old excuse.
And by the way, for a regular shoe, if you spill hot grease or hot water on your foot, that liquid can get right inside the shoe and pool there, increasing the amount of time the liquid is in contact with your foot. It might be better to be able to shake the hot liquid off.
I found interesting the last line: “It is our job to ensure eating establishments have been educated on the best ways to prevent accidents and provide the best service to the public.” Funny, but that’s not what their website says is their job.
Our Mission is to prevent disease and disability, to maintain a healthy environment, to promote healthy lifestyle, thereby, increasing the quality and length of life, striving towards health and well-being of the community, achieving access to preventive health services for all Nueces County residents.
And finally, don’t forget that the news story said that the photo led to a surprise inspection of the restaurant. Nothing in this reply even suggests that a surprise inspection was justified. They’re just letting the media jerk them around.
But this is just one example of why we get as much grief as we do. Even those who should know better make up excuses that make no sense.