Tuesday, March 7, 2017

MI Food Pantry Temporarily Closed - A Reminder for Donated-Food Distributors

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development temporarily closed a food pantry after they inspected the facility.   The inspection came in response to a complaint, and numerous issues were found including moldy food and poor personnel practices.

While food pantries are given latitude in providing expired food, the food still must be edible.  Food inventories must be managed, removing items as they get excessively old or grow mold.  Another practice is taking bulk food and repacking it.  The repackaging process must be done following sanitary procedures including handwashing, and the smaller packages must be labeled.

Food pantries do a great service, but the people they serve must receive safe food.

M Live
State inspection uncovers food safety violations at food pantry, temporarily closed
By John Tunison | jtunison@mlive.com The Grand Rapids Press
on March 02, 2017 at 10:09 PM, updated March 02, 2017 at 10:13 PM

WYOMING, MI -- The United Church Outreach Ministry food pantry is temporarily closed after a state inspection found food safety violations on Thursday, March 2.
Ministry leaders, however, say they're working with the state to correct problems and hope to be back open by the middle of next week.

A state inspection Thursday found "severely outdated food," "moldy food" and workers "not following proper food handling procedures." it also found the facility was not licensed as required.
The inspection was spurred by a complaint that came into the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on Wednesday.
Bruce Roller, the ministry's executive director, said changes are already underway at the pantry to address the issues.
Among them are installing a hand washing sink in the kitchen, throwing out pre-made salads sooner than what happens now, installing signage to alert shoppers that some food could be expired and labeling bulk foods differently to reflect the exact ingredients.
The pantry offers smaller packages of foods that were transferred from bulk containers, Roller said. It was the smaller containers that lacked specific labeling, he said.
Roller also said it's all right for pantries to give away food beyond the expiration date, but Agriculture Department officials say pantries need to have signage to tell people. Roller said that, in most cases, it's canned items that are kept beyond the expiration date.
The United Church Outreach Ministry pantry, in the 1300 block of Chicago Drive SW, served 43,000 people last year and provided an estimated 500,000 meals to those people.
Roller said the pantry has an excellent track record.
"We've been operating the food pantry for 30 years and this is the first we had a complaint made to the state," he said.
Roller said he wasn't aware the facility needed an Agriculture Department license.
Officials the Agriculture Department say they'll work with food pantry volunteers to give them education on food safety procedures.

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