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Safety experts remind vendors of food protocols during DNC

Chefs and hospitality workers are briefed on sanitation and decorum; other training on tap for cabbies

By Kathleen Purvis and Mark Washburn
kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com

Watch out for those bubbas selling oysters.

That was one word of advice for several hundred people from the hospitality industry and food-related businesses who came to a briefing Tuesday by representatives for the Democratic National Convention.

Donna Wanucha, regional food specialist with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, went over safety rules, such as holding temperatures for food that is brought uptown and stored.

New food code

North Carolina’s new food code, based on the federal standards for the safe handling of food, goes into effect Sept. 1, just before hundreds of parties and delegate events. Inspectors will check food to make sure it’s being held at 41 degrees or below.

Wanucha also covered issues such as norovirus, which is spread when employees fail to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Food handlers are not allowed to touch ready-to-eat food directly and shouldn’t come to work sick. Food also needs to be packaged separately to avoid cross-contamination.

Wanucha urged vendors to only use food suppliers they know.

“Don’t be buying it from Bubba in that red truck who has a good deal on oysters,” she said.

Mary Ward of the Mecklenburg County ABC Board assured businesses about liquor supplies.

She said the stores have made lists of their 100 best-selling products and have stocked up, although she urged bar operators to let them know if they’re planning exotic cocktails that require less-common ingredients.

Even though businesses won’t be allowed to pick up orders on Sunday or Monday (Labor Day), ABC employees will take orders on Labor Day Monday for Tuesday distribution. Orders can be placed online.

The Charlotte in 2012 Host Committee also plans hospitality training for cab drivers and other workers. Later this week, there will be informational meetings for hospitality personnel at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 4 p.m. Thursday, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday and at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Susan Cole of the Mecklenburg County Health Department said the county has received no applications for public food sales in the uptown during convention week. The deadline for applications is Friday; call 704-336-5100.

Dealing with security

As they have several times, security personnel urged anyone bringing in food or beverages to come through the Remove Delivery Zone, 900 N. Davidson St., between midnight and 6 a.m. during the week of the DNC. Deliveries at other times may face longer waits.

Leon Newsome, the Secret Service agent in charge, said drivers arriving at the Remote Delivery Zone will need to get out of their vehicles for inspections, which he said would take only a few minutes. Afterward, vehicles will be escorted by police to the delivery site.

“It’s going to take some patience,” Newsome said. “The city is not shut down, with a few exceptions. With complete security, there come some inconveniences.”

He said that at other National Special Security Events, restrictions are more sweeping. In Charlotte, he said, authorities are going “business to business, block by block,” to plan security.

Purvis: 704-358-5236
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