Commack Community Association hosted the gracious supervisor of the NY Dept of Agriculture unit in Hauppauge, where five inspectors are based. Inspectors have food science or biology degrees. Angela M ,also of Commack, has a biology degree and has worked for this department for 30+ years. She spoke to us about Food Safety. The department inspects supermarkets including 7-11 stores; food processing or baking plants; candy making operations; wineries , while the Dept of Health inspects retail bakeries, restaurants;bars and carnivals. All food establishments must hold a proper license. Pet stores and breeder facilities are monitored by the Dept. of Agriculture's Albany division. Live shellfish and seafood distribution are handled by the NYS DEC divisions.About 7,000 dairy farms are inspected annually by certified milk inspectors of the Dept of Agriculture.
Food safety inspections are unannounced and performed 2-3 times per year. Tests are done to check the hot and cold temperatures of all food. Cold foods must be cooled to 41 degrees. Hot cooked foods must be kept hot at 135 degrees,but must not dip below 125 degrees or it is thrown out by the inspector,who brings their own food thermometer. Inspections are also done for rodent activity. Do it yourself pest control is not permitted. The on site inspection reports are sent to the Albany compliance unit,which then issues any fines to the food establishment. The vendors have a chance to correct the violations and will be reinspected.
Cans with more than 3 dents must be discarded and cannot be sold at a discount. No dents are allowed on the rim of the can. If an inspector finds cans that are swollen or dented 3 ways, they will open it, spill and bleach the contents because this food is not safe to eat.
You as a consumer can check the front door entrance or the customer service area for Inspection certificates and ABC letter grades. These must be on display in every supermarket, or 7-11 store.
There is no expiration date law. These dates are under voluntary compliance by each vendor.