Don’t eat the food in Pittsburgh Hospitals

Posted on May 12, 2011 by


According to an investigative report by WTAE Channel 4 in Pittsburg, PA, a reporter found out that sometimes the food served to sick people and visitors is not being handled safely.

Reporters looked through all of the Allegheny County Health Department’s food safety inspection reports from local hospitals and found that just this year alone, seven of them had critical violations.

Safe food handling is likely the last thing on your mind when you go into the hospital. Less than a year ago at Louisiana’s Central State Hospital, three patients died and 40 others were sickened. A state health department spokeswoman told Team 4 that the food-borne illness outbreak was caused by bacteria in chicken salad from the hospital kitchen. The problem has happened before.

At St. Louis’ Children’s Hospital, more than 600 patients, employees and visitors got sick in a salmonella outbreak. A hospital spokeswoman told Team 4 “While we suspected (the) infection originated at our salad bar, we were never able to confirm that.”

Things aren’t perfect. Food safety inspectors at the Allegheny County Health Department have issued critical violations against seven hospitals so far this year.

At West Penn’s Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville, an inspection found cut turkey in an area that was room temperature. The turkey’s temperature was 62 degrees.

At UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital cafe, an inspector issued critical violations for sliced ham she found that was 70 degrees and cream cheese at 57 degrees. Several pints of milk had expired four days earlier.

At Life Care Hospital in Wilkinsburg, the inspector found cream cheese stored at 56 degrees and raw chicken stored above raw beef, which could allow cross-contamination.

And at Children’s Hospital, the inspector went to the Pop Stop and found half a dozen critical violations, including a whole chicken sitting out cooling at 113 degrees; cheesecake at 51 degrees; and hot dogs that were re-heated to only 103 degrees. The requirement for re-heating hot dogs is 140 degrees.

In all of these cases, the hospitals agreed to take corrective action and the health department took no enforcement action against them. Health officials said their inspections are a snapshot once a year, that’s why their emphasis is on getting everyone in these kitchens to become certified food managers.

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Posted in: food safety, kitchen