Health and agriculture officials in Kansas have partnered to launch a new food safety website for the state in an effort to reduce anonymous complaints and better identify and investigate foodborne outbreaks.
The website — www.foodsafetykansas.org — has links for the public to file complaints with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
The health department is handling reports about actual illnesses and the agriculture department is fielding complaints about problems observed by the public such as a lack of employee hand washing or evidence of pest infestation.
“The goal of FoodSafetyKansas.org is to improve accessibility and reduce the number of anonymous complaints. Anonymous complaints hurt KDHE’s ability to start an investigation and confirm an outbreak,” according to a news release.
“KDHE typically investigates 10 to 30 food-related outbreaks each year. Most foodborne disease outbreaks reported in Kansas are caused by norovirus. Outbreaks caused by Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens have also been seen in recent years.”
The public can also phone in complaints:
- Foodborne illnesses — 877-427-7317
- Restaurant practices — 785-564-6767
Although the new complaint process is not anonymous, Kansas officials say no personal information will be revealed.
“Your report is automatically sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and only authorized state and local public health representatives can access it. Information you provide will not be shared with restaurants or any other third parties,” according to a statement on the new website.
People reporting foodborne illnesses on the new website are given these options for the source of the implicated food, plus a blank for “other” sources:
- A restaurant (food eaten in a restaurant or purchased from a restaurant);
- Food served at an event or private residence (including potluck or catered events);
- Food cooked or prepared i a grocery store or other retail store (including food from a deli or hot food counter inside a store); or
- A food item (in a can, bottle, box, bag, etc.) purchased from a grocery store or other retail store.
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