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Hurricane Irene Keeps Health Inspectors Busy

Grocery stores and restaurants inspected after power outages and storm damages

Monmouth County Health Department inspectors have been busy visiting restaurants and grocery stores that lost power or sustained damage during Hurricane Irene, according to Monmouth County Public Health Coordinator Michael Meddis.

“I haven’t seen an inspector in two days. They’ve been out constantly,” he said.

The department is responsible for assessing conditions at food establishments in 23 Monmouth County towns. The Monmouth Regional Health Department and five municipal health departments in Colts Neck, Freehold Township, Long Branch, Middletown and Manalapan oversee businesses in the rest of the county.

Restaurants and grocery stores may not open unless power, refrigeration, clean water and hot water are present, according to health department guidelines.

“We go to all of the food establishments that we have jurisdiction over to determine the extent of damages. We make an initial assessment about whether or not it can reopen,” Meddis said.

The department embargoes food that may have spoiled or may not have received proper refrigeration during a power outage, according to Meddis. Business owners are also advised of areas of the food service establishment that will need to be sanitized because of flooding or storm damage before the facility can reopen to the public.

In addition to inspections, the Monmouth County Health Department has been advising residents on post-storm safety issues.

“There are numerous resources on the county Web site on remediating mold, disinfecting wells, cleaning and sanitizing after a flood, a whole variety of topics,” Meddis said. “We provide handouts to people along those same lines.”

For more information on the Monmouth County Health Department, call 732-431-7456 or visit the department offices at 3435 Route 9 in Freehold Township.

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