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Consumer Food Safety - General Questions

All reports of possible foodborne illness reported to this Division are investigated. If you believe that you became ill due to a food product purchased in Orange County you may call 714-433-6000 to report the incident. Be prepared to answer questions about the onset time, duration, and types of symptoms. Try to compile a list of all foods and drinks consumed for the two days prior to the first signs of illness, as this information is critical for the investigation. Some commercially distributed prepackaged foods, are regulated by other State or Federal agencies. The Environmental Health Division can assist in making referrals to the correct agency.

Ocean waters along the Orange County coastline (including the bays and harbors) are monitored for indicator bacteria at least weekly year around to determine compliance with swimming standards. The Orange County coastline is safe for swimming. However, beach goers should avoid the water near discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers, and avoid contact with any runoff on the beach. During the rainy season, swimmers should avoid ocean waters near discharging storm drains, creeks and rivers for at least three days following the end of the rainstorm. In the event of a sewage spill, Environmental Health will formally close the beach by posting closure signs along the affected beach area.

Beach goers can call the Beach Closure Hotline 24 hours a day at (714) 433-6400 to determine if a closure or advisory is in effect.

The Environmental Health Division investigates consumer complaints regarding food safety and sanitation at all retail food facilities in Orange County. If you have a consumer complaint regarding an Orange County food facility, please call 714-433-6000 to report the complaint. Please provide the name and address of the facility you want investigated and explain the conditions you are reporting.

The Environmental Health Division investigates complaints regarding public pool safety and sanitation in Orange County. If a pool or a spa is available to the public or multiple families, the Environmental Health Division can investigate these complaints. Please call 714-433-6000 to report an unsafe or unsanitary swimming pool or spa. Please provide the name and address of the public pool or spa you want investigated and explain the conditions you are reporting.

For information regarding lead, call 714-433-6079.

The answer depends on the temperature of the food and how long it was without refrigeration. Use a food thermometer to measure the temperature on the inside of the food. Foods with temperature readings of 41°F or lower should be safe to eat. If the food has been above 41°F, then it is critical to determine how long it has been above 41°F. If the food has been above 41°F for less than 2 hours, it should be safe for immediate use. If the food has been above 41°F for more than 2 hours, then it is safest to discard these items. 

Cockroaches have been shown to carry disease-causing microorganisms, parasites, and filth on their bodies. Cockroaches contaminate foods and the surfaces they crawl over because they regurgitate partially digested food and drop feces while feeding. Approximately half of the people with asthma can also have allergies to cockroaches.

Call OC Waste and Recycling, Household Hazardous Waste office at 714-834-6752.

The studies relating to the effects of electromagnetic fields on the human body are not conclusive at this time. Some research indicates that it may be a risk, while other research indicates that it is not.

Unpleasant as it may be, the odors caused by rotting food do not carry diseases. What the odors may do, however, is attract vectors like flies and rodents. Our Agency will notify your neighbor to correct that problem.

The inspectors that regulate food facilities, swimming pools, housing, and water quality are Registered Environmental Health Specialists. The minimum education and registration requirements for a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) are listed in the California Code of Regulations, Title 17. All Environmental Health Specialist trainees must be approved by the California State Department of Health Services (DHS) prior to beginning training with the County. To submit your college transcripts for evaluation, contact the DHS REHS Program, at 916-449-5663.

The Environmental Health Division does not routinely perform laboratory testing on food products in the possession of the consumer. If testing is conducted, it is usually done as part of an ongoing investigation. The Environmental Health Specialist in charge of the investigation will ask for a product release from the consumer if testing is necessary. If you would like a product tested for your own information, there are a number of private analytical testing laboratories listed in the telephone directory that have the ability to test food.