Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gold Star Program Helps Clean Eateries Shine

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gold Star Program Helps Clean Eateries Shine

Article excerpt

Not all food outlets are equal in Bergen County. There's clean, and then there's the Gold Star.

Fifty food outlets have gotten Gold Star awards from the Bergen County Health Services Department in recognition of their commitment to keeping things clean and going above minimum sanitary standards.

Some are traditional restaurants, but most are other places where food is served, such as fast-food outlets, nursing homes, child care centers, school cafeterias, pizzerias and coffee shops. A few Dunkin' Donuts plus a Starbucks, a Dairy Queen, a White Castle and a Burger King made the list in 2011.

To get on the list, an outlet needs to go at least one year with "satisfactory" ratings and no summonses or confirmed cases of food- borne illness.

In addition, at least one manager must take an 18-hour course on food safety, and at least one employee who has taken a three-hour class for food handlers must work on each shift. Each business must do a self-inspection every two weeks and demonstrate effective "vermin control."

Azori Po Ovu and his girlfriend took the classes and won a Gold Star for their Edgewater restaurant Archetypus in 2010 and again in 2011

"We try to do the best we can in every way possible," Ovu said.

Besides, he said, the classes "were something we could do together."

Getting a Gold Star doesn't mean a restaurant or kitchen won't be cited for shortcomings in the future, Health Services Director Nancy Mangieri said. But it does mean that during a one-year period the business had gone beyond the mandatory minimum requirements.

"The whole purpose of this is to protect the public, to make sure that the people who are preparing the food are doing it safely." Mangieri said. "Food-borne illness is a constant threat in any community."

Not all towns in Bergen County are eligible for the program. Currently, the county contracts with 29 of the county's 70 municipalities. Other communities have their own food inspection programs.

Unlike New York City, which began requiring restaurants to post their health inspection grades in a window, Bergen food outlets inspected by county officials are not required to post their reports as conspicuously. …

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