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Pest-Proofing Your Home Should be A New Year's Resolution

11 Jan 2019

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest - MA, RI

Have you made your New Year's Resolution list? Be sure to include pest-proofing your home. This can help you save money and spare you from the hassle of dealing with pests indoors. Here are some measures you can take to implement your pest-proofing plans and keep your pest-free resolution throughout the year.

Start with proper storage of holiday decor.

Taking down your tree and holiday adornments can be a workout but don't rush things. Securely pack them in a durable plastic container with tight sealed lids to keep pests from infesting the decorations while stored.

Always keep the kitchen and dining area tidy and clean.

Pests are attracted to food. Make sure these areas of your home are clean after cooking and dining. Small crumbs can entice ants, mice, and other pests. Make sure to store food and dispose of garbage properly. And, store edibles in receptacles with tight lids and keep them organized and clean in your pantry.

Seal holes and crevices.

Make sure outdoor openings, doors, windows, and pipes are properly sealed. These can be a potential port of entry for pests into your home.

Store firewood away from your house.

Pests often gather in wood piles. Make sure to store the firewood at least 20 feet from your home. Before you bring wood inside, brush it off to ensure that no pests have hitched a ride.

Clean the exterior of your home.

Remove leaves and debris from the gutters and repair loose shingles to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

Doing these preventative measures can help keep pests from infesting your home. However, if you have already noticed any signs of infestation starting to occur in your home, contact EHS Pest. We can help you safely get rid of any pest infestation.


Rare tick infection leaves teacher with memory loss, fatigue

04 Jan 2019

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest, MA, RI

A 40-year-old English teacher from the U.K. who was bitten by a tick in his ear while volunteering in Nepal two years ago said he still has trouble with his memory and coordination after the infection left him suffering from hallucinations and brain swelling.

Keith Poultney, who said he didn’t realize he had been bitten by the tick during his 2017 trip until a few days after developing discomfort in his ear, initially wasn’t concerned about his illness while in Nepal because others in his group had developed colds or the flu, according to The Sun.

“They treated me with antibiotics, but what they didn’t know was that the type of infection I had developed was resistant,” he said of his treatment in Nepal. “I flew home as planned, but the flight, a 12-hour flight via the Middle East, was the worst experience of my life.”

He said at one point his temperature reached 104.9 and he developed severe head pain. He was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, where he was eventually diagnosed with encephalitis and a rickettsial typhus infection, which is typically transmitted by fleas, ticks, mites and lice and in some cases can be fatal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immediate treatment should be started in a patient with a suspected case of rickettsioses before confirmation is complete due to the rapid progression of the infection.

Transmission is most common during outdoor activities in the spring or summer months when ticks and fleas are most active, with a 5-14 day incubation period for most rickettsial diseases, meaning symptoms often don’t start until after the trip as ended. The most common rickettsial diseases found in travelers are in the spotted fever or typhus groups.

“I felt different in myself,” Poultney, who is still dealing with fatigue, told The Sun. “I had real problems with my balance and was unable to walk in a straight line. I physically felt as though I was impaired or drunk. I could not gauge space or distance and would often walk into door frames or knock things such as drinks over.”

Nearly two years after his diagnosis and treatment, Poultney said he still has issues with his memory, and has started working with Headway, an organization that provides support to brain injury patients.

“Without Headway’s help, I know my recovery would have been slower and more frustrating,” he told The Sun. “They were there to pick me up from a very low point in my life. I know my brain has been altered and that will most likely never change. But I also know that I shouldn’t try to deal with this on my own.”

To get rid of tick infestation safely, contact EHS Pest.

Source: FOX NEWS

Some Wasps Linger in Homes During Winter

04 Jan 2019

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Paper wasp stings are painful and can cause allergic reaction to those who are hypersensitive to insect bites and stings. Many think that these wasps diminish during the winter, but unfortunately, they actually tend to stick around all season.

Most paper wasps die at the start of autumn, but female wasps who are to be the queen mother to a new colony start looking for a protective shelter. You can spot them inside your home during the cold winter. They sneak through tiny holes near the roof-line, infiltrate your home, and hide in wall gaps and inside warm attics.

In order to prevent wasps from invading your home, look for any openings that can potentially serve as an entry point for these insects. Using steel wool and silicone based caulk, seal all cracks and gaps. Windows and door frames, attic rafters, porch ceilings, and around the roof eaves are the usual sites where they gather. Those are great spots to check.

These insects are more likely indolent and inactive during cold temperatures so its a perfect time to remove them from your house. However, it is still important to seek the help of a pest control professional for safe removal, especially when you are dealing with a larger population.

Contact EHS Pest when you need a pest expert to perform wasp removal treatment in your home.


Importance of Pest Control Service During Winter

28 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Happy Holidays from EHS Pest

If you think pest control service is not necessary during winter, think again. Contrary to popular belief, a colder climate doesn't actually diminish the number of pests that plaque our homes in the summer. In fact, pest control is highly necessary in winter to prevent pests from infiltrating our homes looking for shelter and food.

Winter is the ideal time for a pest inspection to help find and prevent ways for them to enter and infest your homes. Mice and other pests invade homes in winter looking for food because sources outdoors are insufficient. Homes are very susceptible during the season change from fall to winter. The pest that silently intrude make homes in attics and crawl spaces until the warmer season sets in. Thus, inspection and treatment are necessary. Interior and exterior barriers are highly recommended by pest experts.

Winter pest control service is vital to maintaining a pest-free home not just at winter but all year long. Contact EHS Pest for reliable pest control service.

EHS Did A Crow Dispersal Work

27 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

NORTH ADAMS — With no other good options to move swarms of crows that have descended on this city, an energy company is calling in a cannon.

A sound-emitting propane cannon, that is.

EHS Crow Dispersal Work

National Grid wants the birds to find a new home because of the threat they pose to company infrastructure. The crows have settled into treetops around the area of Furnace, West Main and Brown streets.

And as mesmerizing as their flights can be at dusk and dawn, when the crows alight on the wires and superstructure of the National Grid substation on Brown Street, it could become a hazard for the birds and the community.

National Grid issued a statement Monday saying there is a potential for a power loss if a crow lands on the wrong piece of equipment. So this week workers will use a loud booming device — a propane cannon — to hopefully shift the crows to other locales.

According to a Facebook post from Joanne DeRose of National Grid, the company will fire the cannon between 4 and 6 p.m. starting Tuesday and continuing through Saturday.

In the post, DeRose said the company has tried several other tactics to deter the crow flock, known as a "murder," from the substation, but they were not successful.

She said city officials have been notified, and anyone with questions should contact National Grid.

"The device will create a loud boom each time it is used which should deter the crows from this location," she said in the post. "Local officials have been contacted and have agreed to issue a Code Red phone alert to notify residents. The National Grid Customer Service Center has also been notified and will be available for any questions. The number is 800-322-3223. Hopefully, this measure will remove the hazardous condition."

In a separate Facebook post, North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio termed this particular murder of crows "hazardous."

"The sonic cannon will be aimed at the flock daily," he wrote. "No projectiles will be fired from it."

Several tactics have been tried over the past few years, but the crows kept coming back, according to Robert Kievra, spokesman for National Grid

"The city has no shortage of crows and for some reason several hundred crows roost in the trees each evening near our facility and substation," Kievra said. "Birds can cause outages. ... In addition, bird droppings can cause issues due to their corrosive, semiliquid content."

He noted that if this doesn't work, the company will continue to investigate other options.

Bird are attracted to utility wires because it gives them a view of their surroundings to spot predators and prey, according to the science news website They are not electrocuted because they do not present an alternate route for the electricity to flow since they are not grounded.

In fall and winter, crows roost in large flocks numbering in the thousands, according to Each day in late afternoon, the birds begin flying fixed routes to pre-roost sites, gathering with other flocks and moving to the final roost. They fly as far as 50 miles each day to join the roost. Once there, they relax quietly until dawn to fly back to their feeding territories.

Many North Adams residents have been noticing the hypnotic, ballet-like performance of the murder during sunset, with thousands of jet-black birds swooping and swirling as one among the trees and rooftops just west of downtown.

Interestingly, notes, when one crow dies, the murder surrounds the deceased. This funeral isn't to mourn the dead. The crows gather to find out what killed their member. Then, the murder of crows will chase predators in a behavior called mobbing.

To find out more about crow dispersal, contact EHS Pest.


Happy Holidays from EHS Pest

20 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Happy Holidays from EHS Pest

Our warmest Holiday wishes from the entire team here at EHS Pest. Calendar year 2018 was, and continues to be, a truly remarkable year and we take this moment to recognize the joy that each and every one of you has brought to our personal and professional lives. We exist because of your faith and trust in us.

As calendar year 2019 approaches, we reflect upon the foundational recognition that "your success is our success". Our New Year’s wish for 2019 is to nurture our positive and ever strengthening partnership and to deliver ever increasing value to you, your business, and your family through the entirety of 2019.

Throughout this Holiday season may you be blessed with health and surrounded by friends and family. All the best! Cheers!

Scientists, Students Find New Pathogens Hiding in Indiana Ticks

19 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Many people know about the link between ticks and Lyme disease. But there may be far more lurking in tick bites than previously thought – a cocktail of bacteria and viruses that may uniquely affect each bite victim and inhibit the remedies meant to cure tick-borne diseases.

“Climate change is expanding tick ranges, and we’re spending more time in tick habitats all the time,” said Catherine Hill, a Purdue professor of entomology and vector biology. “As we come into more contact with ticks, we increase the likelihood of being bitten and contracting a tick-borne disease. We’re finding that it’s not just one microbe these ticks could pass on to us. It’s like a little microbe party in there, and we need to figure out how their interplay can affect human health.”

To build that understanding, Hill and scientists in her lab have created the Tick INsiders program, which involves collecting Indiana ticks throughout the year to map bacteria and viruses and how these change throughout the year and throughout the state. Some high school students have been trained as citizen scientists to help with the project and have been collecting ticks since the spring of 2018.

They’ve found three types of ticks: the blacklegged deer tick, the lone star tick and the American dog tick. These arachnids are capable of transmitting nine different pathogens that cause human illnesses, though not all have not been diagnosed in the state. The Indiana State Department of Health reports more than 100 cases of Lyme disease each year and dozens of cases of ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Scientists suspect that the severity of illnesses and human immune response can vary based on the cocktail of microbes — bacteria, viruses and pathogens — passed from tick to bite victim. It has been estimated that about 25 percent of ticks are co-infected with the bacteria and parasites that cause Lyme disease and Babesiosis, for example. Other pathogens may be in the mix in those or other ticks, as well.

“It’s not ‘one tick bite, one disease,’” Hill said. “It’s one tick bite with a unique complement of different microbes and pathogens, and we need to understand that diversity. We don't know which of these pathogens and how many are transferred when ticks bite, how our bodies react, and how the interplay between our immune system and multiple microbes might affect disease outcome.”

So far, the Tick INsider program’s collections have identified hundreds of bacteria. These may include pathogens known to cause human illness, including several bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Scientists are looking at as many as 100 different bacteria that may be pathogenic.

“We already know that there is risk of contracting Lyme disease around the state, in any of Indiana’s 92 counties,” Hill said. “We’re looking for all the stuff that hasn’t been found yet but may show up at some point.”

Knowing what’s out there, and in us, may be useful for doctors who need to know the best way to treat tick-borne illnesses that affect patients in sometimes unique ways.

“This deep dive will help us to design comprehensive diagnostics that test for hundreds of potential pathogens and enable doctors to prescribe patient-specific treatment regimes — that is personalized medicine for tick-borne diseases,” Hill said.

Nine student scientists involved with the Tick INsider program spent time on campus learning about the analysis done on the ticks they find. They toured labs that perform DNA analysis of each tick, identifying the types of viruses and bacteria present, as well as the Purdue Bioinformatics Core, where the data are analyzed.

The Tick INsider program will take application for new students in early January. Hill said she hopes to expand the program soon so that any Indiana resident can become trained to collect and send in ticks.


Invasive tick is 'here to stay,' and here's where it could spread next

18 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

An invasive tick species, new to the U.S., has already popped up in nine states, and a new study suggests that the species could spread much further.

This tick, called the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), is native to Asia and was first identified in the U.S. in 2017, when it was found on a sheep in New Jersey. Since then, the tick has been detected in eight other states: New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the new study, published today (Dec. 13) in the Journal of Medical Entomology, suggests that the tick could spread to much of the eastern U.S. and parts of the Midwest, as well as a small section of the Pacific Northwest.

Researchers used climate data from the tick's native habitat, which includes parts of China, Japan and Korea, to predict where the tick could spread in North America. Then, they created a statistical model to determine habitats that were likely suitable for the tick.

The study found that much of the eastern U.S. coast was suitable for the longhorned tick, with areas as far north as Maine and as far south as northern Florida predicted to be at least moderately suitable. The tick could also appear in Gulf Coast states as far west as Louisiana, as well as in Midwest and southeastern states, including Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. A small section of the Washington, Oregon and Northern California coast was also found to be highly suitable for H. longicornis, the study found.

"The Asian longhorned tick is a very adaptable species," study author Ilia Rochlin, an entomologist and researcher affiliated with Rutgers University's Center for Vector Biology in New Jersey, said in a statement. "The optimal tick habitat appears to be defined by temperate conditions — moderate temperature, humidity and precipitation."

Indeed, the suitability of other areas outside the predicted regions was limited due to warmer temperatures in parts of the south, cold temperatures in the north and a dry climate in the west, the study said.

Last month, the CDC announced that it is working with experts in veterinary medicine, agricultural science and public health to better understand the potential impact of the longhorned tick in the U.S.

One concern is that this tick poses a threat to livestock. Unlike most tick species, longhorned ticks can reproduce asexually and lay massive numbers of eggs. A single female longhorn tick can lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time, the CDC said. Due to these large numbers, longhorned ticks can cause severe infestations in livestock, leading to weakness, anemia or even death in the animals.

There is also concern that the tick could spread diseases, as it does in other parts of the world. But so far, no cases of disease tied to these ticks have been reported in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Unfortunately, now that the tick has arrived in the U.S., it's probably here to stay, Rochlin said. The longhorned tick "will be difficult to impossible to eradicate" given it's ecological adaptability and ability to reproduce asexually, Rochlin wrote in his paper.

But studies like these can alert public health officials and veterinary experts as to whether they are in a moderate- or high-risk area for the tick to inhabit.

"Hopefully, this awareness will lead to increased surveillance and expanded public outreach and education," Rochlin said.

He noted that the model was intended to determine the potential tick habitat on a large scale but not where the ticks could be at the local level, such as the specific counties at risk. To determine that, "we need to learn more about this tick species' biology, ecology and local distribution," Rochlin said.

To find out more how to control ticks, contact EHS Pest.


What's lurking in your stadium food?

17 Dec 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest Pest Expert, MA, RI

Inspectors on both visits cited the Coors Field food locations with high-level health violations -- just a few of thousands of such violations found at North America's 111 NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL venues in 2016 and 2017, according to an Outside the Lines analysis of more than 16,000 routine food-safety inspection reports from local health departments. At about 28 percent of the venues, half or more of their food service outlets incurred one or more high-level violations, the type of unsanitary conditions or omissions that can pose a risk for a foodborne illness.

The violations run the gamut: chicken, shrimp and sushi festering at dangerous temperatures that can breed bacteria; employees wiping their faces with their hands and then handling food for customers; cooks sweating over food; beef blood dripping on a shelf; moldy or expired food; dirty utensils or contaminated equipment; and the presence of live cockroaches and mice. Less serious but still icky: dirty floors, fruit flies, pesky pigeons and, in one venue, beer leaking from a ceiling.


Find your favorite team's venue to determine how many high-level food-safety violations were found, how the stadium's inspection results compare with those of other eateries in the surrounding community and brief descriptions of findings.

The venues with the highest percentage of food outlets that incurred one or more high-level violations in the two-year period include Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (92 percent); Palace of Auburn Hills near Detroit, which has since closed, (86.1 percent); American Airlines Center in Dallas, (83.1 percent); and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (82.6 percent).

Being slapped with a high-level violation -- often labeled as "critical," "priority" or "major," depending on the jurisdiction -- does not necessarily mean a venue is unsafe or unsanitary. After all, mistakes happen, no matter whether food is being prepped and served at a stadium kitchen, a fast-food outlet or a fine-dining restaurant. But stadium environments carry unique risks because of the large number of people being served in a short period of time, said Patricia Buck, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention.

"There will be thousands of people at the stadium and there will be maybe 100 at a restaurant, so the sheer number of people being exposed is going to be higher, so it would tend to be riskier if something like contaminated romaine lettuce was going to be served on a taco," said Buck, referencing the recent E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce that has sickened at least 43 people in 12 states.

Buck said she does not eat at sports venues because "it just seems to be a very chaotic situation where food is being prepared."

Concessions at pro sports venues are a $2 billion industry, according to the National Association of Concessionaires. Although most health departments use some version or adaptation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code or a comparable code in Canada to enforce proper food-service practices, the specific food-safety violations and the number cited by inspectors varies depending upon the diligence of the inspection agency or inspector. Some venues get inspected multiple times a year, whereas others might go more than 12 months with few, if any, visits by the local health department. At Washington, D.C.'s Capitol One Arena -- one of four venues not included in the Outside the Lines rankings due to a lack of data -- there were no routine inspections in 2016 and just one routine inspection of a suite kitchen in 2017, for example.

To try to compensate for such jurisdictional differences, Outside the Lines also used data from Hazel Analytics, a Seattle-based company that provides data and analytics of food-safety inspection reports, showing the average number of high-risk violations per inspection for food service outlets and restaurants in a stadium's surrounding community for the 82 venues for which comparison data were available. Among those, 73 performed better than or as well as the community average, while nine performed worse.

Arash Nasibi, chief executive officer of Hazel Analytics, said he expects stadium outlets to perform better because, in some jurisdictions, health departments notify stadium operators when they are planning an inspection because of stadium-access restrictions and security concerns. He said most concession stands inside sports venues serve simple menus with much of the food precooked.

In 2010, Outside the Lines performed a similar analysis of food safety at sports venues, and the results were largely the same, although the methodology used and venues operating at the time were slightly different. In August 2017, Sports Illustrated published a story about violations at professional baseball stadiums, although SI used a different metric than Outside the Lines.

One venue that ranked at the bottom for food-safety compliance in both reports was Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, which, until this year, had a contract with Centerplate, a concession and food service provider headquartered in Connecticut.

In December 2017, the Rays sued Centerplate for breach of contract, alleging that the contractor "surreptitiously cut corners, underreported gross receipts, concealed performance issues, underpaid the Rays, and underperformed" under their agreement to the "detriment of the Rays and their fans." The lawsuit referenced negative media coverage, including the Sports Illustrated and Outside the Lines stories, noting that within a week of the latter, "a Centerplate supervisor took two cups out of a spoilage container, washed them out and added the dirty cups to a new stack."

The Rays allege that the resulting media coverage of the food-safety violations -- among other issues with Centerplate -- tarnished the Rays' brand and caused the organization financial harm. In its response filed in federal court, Centerplate called the lawsuit "corporate blackmail" and "factually meritless." Centerplate countered that the Rays filed the lawsuit shortly before the contract's expiration to force the concession company to forgive the Rays' "significant debt" and that most of the Rays' breach-of-contract claims fell outside a five-year statute of limitations. The lawsuit is pending.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne disease each year in the United States. But it's unknown how often people get sick from food served at sports venues alone, because food poisoning -- regardless of where it occurs -- often goes underreported because people mistake it for the flu or believe that symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea or stomach cramps, don't require medical attention or formal reporting.

Although some contaminants can make people sick right away or shortly after eating, others, including several types of bacteria or viruses, might not trigger symptoms until several hours or even days later. By that time, many fans have returned to their homes, miles from the stadium or arena where they attended a game, making an illness even more difficult to trace, health inspectors told Outside the Lines. Some fans, however, are not shy about sharing digestive distress on social media, often including photos and tagging the social media accounts of the team.

In April 2016, Twitter account @thekatzmeow shared a photo of a hamburger in a moldy bun with Citi Field in the background: "Thanks for the memories...and the listeria. @Mets #NikonMets #FreeBurger?" Another Twitter post, from @melissaggeorge in September 2017, tagged the Chicago Cubs' account and read, "@Cubs my husband and 6 year old woke up at 1:30am puking their guts up. #checkthehotdogs #food-poisoning."

On July 4, 2017, Laurence Leavy took to Twitter and Instagram to post about friends of his who got sick after attending a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium the night before. "Anybody else get food poisoning from Legends Buffet @Yankees from seafood last night? Blood work from hospital confirms bacteria poisoning," read one tweet. "Possible At least 4 people got food poisoning from @Yankees legends buffet. @Yankees silent," read another.

Leavy is better known to sports fans as "Marlins Man." At baseball games, he is often seen positioned behind home plate, and the July 3, 2017, game at Yankee Stadium was no exception.

Leavy said he took nine people to the game, and two fell ill overnight and into the morning on a flight to Miami. One of them went to the hospital, he said. In a recent interview with Outside the Lines, Leavy read from a notepad he said he saved from that day.

"This is what they were saying: They were doubled over, they were vomiting, had cramps, headaches, felt like their appendix needed to be taken out," he said. The one who ended up at the hospital, "thought she was going to die, she was that sick. She missed three days of work. She did not eat for three days." The other woman stayed home from work for two days, he said.

Both women confirmed Leavy's account in conversations with Outside the Lines. The woman who went to the hospital said doctors told her she had food poisoning based on her bloodwork, but she said she did not recall if they identified a specific virus or bacteria.

Meanwhile, Leavy was starting to hear from other fans via social media who also claimed to have fallen ill at the game. He spoke to three people on the phone and asked them about where they ate and when they ate there, and compared their stories to that of his two friends, he said. Based on that, he said he believed that they were all sickened by the shrimp cocktail sauce on a seafood buffet for VIP guests. Leavy, who said he's allergic to seafood, didn't eat from the buffet and didn't fall ill.

Leavy said he kept in touch with the food and beverage staff at the stadium and passed along the names of the other fans with whom he'd corresponded. He said a woman from the food and beverage staff assured him they were taking his report seriously.

Leavy said he received a call from someone who identified himself as an inspector with the health department, but the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has no such record of any complaint of foodborne illness at Yankee Stadium from Leavy, any other individual, or anyone associated with Legends or the Yankees. Under New York City law, food establishments are required to report any suspected cases of foodborne illness to the health department. Failure to do so could result in the issuance of a violation subject to a fine. On July 4, 2017, Laurence Leavy took to Twitter and Instagram to post about friends of his who got sick after attending a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium the night before. Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images

Jennifer Bozzelli, a spokeswoman with Legends, said that the company had been aware of a complaint from one of Leavy's guests but that Legends had done a "full investigation and found that the source was not from Yankee Stadium." Upon her request, Outside the Lines sent a detailed list of questions -- including whether anyone at Legends reported the incident to the health department.

In response, Bozzelli instead issued a statement without answering the questions, which read in part: "The health and safety of our guests is paramount to us, and we adhere to the strictest of safety standards to ensure that only the best quality of food is served in accordance with all health department standards. We have invested significant resources, including but not limited to strict policies, procedures and training to ensure the equipment and preparation of our food meets those high safety standards."

When asked whether Legends was issued a violation and/or fine in connection with this incident, a New York City health department spokesman wrote in an email that the department "investigates suspected cases of foodborne illness and pursues enforcement action as appropriate." The spokesman instructed Outside the Lines to file an open records request for any such violations, and a response Dec. 4 revealed no record of any such violations.

In the Outside the Lines analysis, 79.1 percent of the outlets at Yankee Stadium had one or more high-level violations over 2016 and 2017, with only five other sports venues having a higher percentage. Yankee Stadium, however, performed better overall than New York City's average of high-level violations per inspection at all food establishments.

In Leavy's case, he said he believes his friends fell ill from the same source as the strangers he connected with via social media. But when multiple fans in the same group get sick after attending a sporting event, health inspectors say it's possible they could have been sickened by something they ate earlier in their trip.

Such was the dilemma faced by the University of Wisconsin marching band after a visit to Indianapolis on Dec. 3, 2016, when the band played at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State.

chips, cookies and apples provided by the stadium food service staff.

Only someone familiar with the band's formation would have noticed the handful of students missing from the halftime performance who were being tended to by stadium paramedics, said Darin Olson, assistant director of bands. Several other band members powered through the halftime show despite not feeling well, he told Outside the Lines.

"It was challenging," Olson said. "The second they got off the field, they decided they would get looked at."

Olson said the school chartered a separate bus for the sick students' trip back to Madison, Wisconsin. Olson paused when asked to recall the five-hour ride home: "It was ... as you can imagine."

Marion County (Indiana) health department spokesman Curt Brantingham said it is suspected that the band members had norovirus, a common virus associated with food poisoning. Brantingham said that a two-week investigation after the complaint did not find a link between the illness and any place the band members ate during their trip, and "no definite conclusion was found as to the source of the illness."

The inspection report that followed the complaint revealed a history of good food-safety practices at the stadium and no current violations. Also, none of the other groups that consumed the meals reported any illnesses, the report stated.

In some of the complaints reviewed by Outside the Lines, health department inspectors did find violations when they visited the suspected location or venue. When an inspector arrived at a kettle corn outlet at Coors Field in August 2017 in response to a fan reporting being ill after eating kettle corn, the inspector saw an employee repeatedly eating kettle corn from the hopper with gloved hands and not removing the gloves or washing his hands, which were critical violations. At Coors Field, 71.2 percent of the food outlets had one or more high-level food-safety violation in 2016 and 2017, though the venue overall performed better than the surrounding area's average of high-level violations per inspection at food establishments.

Although it's not as headline-grabbing as moldy buns, mouse feces or crawling cockroaches, improper handwashing is actually the top contributor to the spread of foodborne illness. Sports venues can have unique challenges in that regard, said public health specialist Sara Liggins Coly with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Some sports venues get inspected by local health departments multiple times a year, whereas others might go more than 12 months with few, if any, visits. Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Venues often employ temporary workers, she said, and many also allow nonprofit organizations to run concession stands as fundraising events. As a result, there might be food service workers who are not fully aware of food-handling rules -- including proper handwashing -- or who are unaware how to properly clean equipment, she said.

"It's an ongoing education battle of telling people what the proper procedures are, as opposed to you maybe dealing with the same person in a one-stop-shop establishment compared to arena-style inspections," said Liggins Coly, who inspects Chesapeake Energy Arena, home to the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. At Chesapeake, only 18.4 percent of the locations were cited with a high-level violation over 2016 and 2017, and it performed better than the community average.

Handwashing can factor in in unexpected ways, such as someone's bare hands coming into contact with ice while scooping it out of an ice machine, Liggins Coly said. That can be a big problem at stadiums, where people often drink more than they eat.

"Many people don't even know that ice is food," she said.

One confirmed case of foodborne illness at a sports venue stemmed from contaminated water used to supply ice for fans at the 1987 University of Pennsylvania-Cornell football game in Philadelphia. More than 158 students -- band members, football players and spectators -- reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness, according to the CDC.

Liggins Coly added that a sports venue's off-and-on operation can also cause problems for equipment designed to keep foods hot or cold, and a stadium's size and multiple doors and openings can make bug and rodent control a challenge.

Ed Gilaty, senior vice president of risk management and sanitation for Levy, which has more concessions and food contracts with professional sports venues in North America than any other food service or concession company, wrote in an email to Outside the Lines that workers at each of his company's venues partner with local health departments and third-party experts to "develop nuanced approaches to developing safe practices and standards" to comply with federal, state and local requirements.

"Levy has a comprehensive food safety training program at all of our locations, training all team members on employee health and personal hygiene, time and temperature controls, and preventing contamination," he wrote, adding that temporary employees and nonprofits' volunteers receive the same level of training to "ensure the highest level of sanitation for our guests."

According to inspectors' notes and interviews with inspectors, most violations at sports venues are the result of mistakes or oversights and not blatant or intentional acts of malfeasance, such as was displayed in a video that went viral on social media earlier this year of a food service worker at Comerica Park in Detroit spitting on a pizza that would later be served to fans at a Tigers game. The worker pleaded guilty to one felony count and one misdemeanor count of food law violations.

"It was appalling," said Liggins Coly after watching the video. "That leads to a biological hazard. Let's say that he had norovirus, shigella, E. coli, or even Hepatitis A. It's unfortunate that people would do things like that, and it's something that I wouldn't want to deal with as a health inspector."

To learn what is typically involved in monitoring food safety at a sports venue, Outside the Lines followed an inspector from the Environmental Services Department in Wake County, North Carolina, through the kitchen and a concession stand at Raleigh's PNC Arena as workers prepared for an Oct. 30, 2018, hockey game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins.

Thomas Jumalon's official title is environmental services team leader. But it's easier to think of Jumalon as a clean-freak houseguest. The way Jumalon demonstrates proper handwashing makes it seem as though he's preparing to take a scalpel to a patient for surgery rather than to stick a thermometer in a smoked brisket to check its temperature. Thomas Jumalon, environmental services team leader at the Environmental Services Department in Wake County, North Carolina, during an inspection at Raleigh's PNC Arena. ESPN

"All right. Excellent. Thirty-nine degrees," he said, inspecting the stack of meat in the main kitchen's walk-in refrigerator. "OK. So, his cooling process works, for all intents and purposes, as it should."

Jumalon goes through each section of the kitchen explaining the importance of proper temperatures, equipment cleaning, chemical storage, separation of raw and cooked foods, and a multitude of other rules directly related to the risk of toxins, bacteria and viruses.

He pulls a bag of spinach off a shelf because there was no date written on the package.

"All right, so we'll toss that. When you've got cut leafy greens that are opened up, rules require them to be date marked," he said, which helps to know how long it's safe to keep before it risks harboring bacteria. "Whatever bacteria is there, the moisture in here will support that bacteria to grow. So, that's why we always want to make sure we control the date marking."

Jumalon enters the dry storage area and spies a giant metal can of pizza sauce with a large dent.

"We want to make sure that we don't have anything like this. That should never have been accepted. ... This is a good way to introduce botulism into a produce," he said, and hands the can to the chef to set aside for disposal. "You can have immediate paralysis, long-term paralysis. It is a neurotoxin and it will kill you."

Jumalon's thoroughness is backed up by the data from Hazel Analytics showing that Wake County inspectors issued more high-level violations per inspection than all but one other health department included in the analysis.

In the Outside the Lines analysis, 68 percent of the outlets at PNC Arena were cited with one or more high-level violations in 2016 and 2017, but the arena performed substantially better than the community average.

Despite the handful of issues, Jumalon points out at PNC Arena's main kitchen -- which prepares foods as different as salmon and bread pudding as well as its trademark house-smoked brisket -- he said the arena typically scores well by Wake County standards, having received a 97 percent, an A grade, on the main kitchen's June 22, 2018, routine inspection. But, he said, that's still no guarantee all food is safe.

"I can have one and a half points taken off because I have ... raw hamburger that's above ready-to-eat salad," he said. "If everything else is OK, I've got 98 and a half. I got an A. It's OK, when in essence it's not. ... I can have an A grade and still have things that are bad that can get you sick."

PNC Arena is one of the few major pro-sports venues in North America to essentially run its concessions in house, under a company called VAB Catering, and not on contract with one of the major national food service companies.

Chris Diamond, vice president of VAB Catering, said he is someone who looks for a health department rating as soon as he walks into a restaurant, but he said it's important to do further research to see exactly which violations contributed to a location's score, stressing that it could be a few little things that add up.

As Diamond stood in the concourse answering a reporter's questions, he watched fans stepping up to a concession stand that scored a perfect 100 on its last inspection -- a rating noted on a health department sign placed overhead.

"We're pretty proud when somebody sees a 100 when they walk into a concession stand," Diamond said. "And if the food's good, it's even better."

source: ESPN

Pest-Proof Your Home This Winter

28 Nov 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest Expert

The holidays mean unending feasts and parties. At the same time, the temperature outside is dropping. These factors make an warm invitation to pesky pests that are searching for food and shelter in your homes. In order to keep your home safe and pest-free this season, here are some tips:

  • Before you set-up your Christmas tree, make sure to shake it well to remove small pests like ticks, spiders, and ants which may inhabit in the branches.
  • When you retrieve ornaments from the attic, first check for signs of pest infestation such as gnawing or rodent droppings.
  • Store firewood away from your home and put it on a raised floor off of the ground. Check the wood for any small pests before bringing them inside your home.
  • Make sure your holiday lights are intact prior to plugging them in. Rodents usually likes to gnaw electrical wires.
  • Dispose sealed trash bins regularly.
  • Store leftovers and other food items in glass or plastic containers with lids. Tightly cover them to secure them from ants, rodents, and other pests.
  • Clean crumbs and spills from cooking stations and countertops right away.
  • Inspect fresh wreaths and other greenery decorations for pest and insects before bringing them indoors.
  • Inspect kitchen cabinets and pantries for any food droppings and clean it regularly.

To find out more tips for making your home pest-proof after the holidays, contact EHS Pest.

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