Food safety is a concern now shared by most Americans. Nationwide recalls in recent years have involved a wide variety of food products, including ground beef, cookie dough, and spinach, has led to an increased awareness and concern by the public about food safety. Nationwide, resources devoted to the prevention of food-related disease and to educate consumers about food safety issues increase annually. The food industry expends a significant percentage of their collective budgets to developing new methods of safe food production and new food technologies. Despite these efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 46 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually resulting in more than 3,000 deaths.
The broad objective of the City of Allentown's Food Protection Program is to reduce the risk of food-borne illness by assuring that food and beverages sold for public consumption has been stored, prepared and served in a safe manner and is wholesome and unadulterated. This program's primary activities are inspecting and licensing restaurants of all size, large and small retail grocers, cafeterias, commissaries, food vendors at special events and certain food vending machines. Investigations of potential food-borne disease outbreaks within the City of Allentown are conducted in cooperation with the Bureau's Communicable Disease program. A major emphasis of the program is to educate food handlers and food service operators in proper food protection techniques as well as public education efforts to promote food safety.
The Environmental Control Program addresses the following environmental health issues:
The Environmental Control Program investigates not only traditional environmental health problems such as vector control, housing hygiene and sanitation issues, but also responds to emerging environmental health hazards which were previously underestimated or unrecognized. These hazards include sources of lead exposure, excessive noise, West Nile virus and indoor air quality concerns.
Additionally, pro-active Healthy Homes environmental assessments for eligible residents provide consultative services and supplies where appropriate to address household environmental conditions that may have an adverse effect, particularly to children. And, while not traditionally considered vectors, bed bug infestations are investigated, and where possible, remediation is enforced.
This program primarily serves the community by conducting field investigations in response to complaints of a variety of public health‑related nuisances. The goal of each investigation conducted by the staff Sanitarians is to reduce health risks through problem resolution, enforcement action or referral to the appropriate agency.
Consultative services are available to the public for a variety of other environmental health issues, such as mosquito harborage, radon, and asbestos. The Sanitarian staff works closely with the Bureau of Building Standards and Safety to address certain health-related complaints involving property.
The Institutional Sanitation and Safety Program services include:
Institutional communities face the same environmental health concerns as any other community since the existence of humans congregating in such facilities introduces the potential for the spread of disease or the occurrence of injury. Problems which may be found in institutions are not limited to safety and sanitation issues but also include indoor air quality concerns, personal health matters (e.g., immunizations) and occupational health hazards (e.g., chemical exposures).
The primary objective of the program's activities in each of the institutional settings is to protect the public from health and safety hazards which could result in illness or unintentional injury. Specific activities include identifying hazards and determining appropriate intervention strategies with facility operators to reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses.
City of Allentown - 435 Hamilton Street - 610-439-5999