City of York - Bureau of Health Newsletter
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July 2016

Food Safety

While enjoying the summer with picnics and get-togethers, remember to safely handle food to help prevent foodborne illnesses.  Hot weather and water tend to increase the risk of foodborne pathogens so be sure to keep foods at the correct temperature, especially perishable foods.  

Each year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick from foodborne illnesses.  Foodborne illnesses, often called food poisoning, are a common public health problem – but the good news is that they are preventable.

The CDC promotes these four simple steps to food safety:

1.    Clean – Wash your hands and food-preparation surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.

2.    Separate – Don't cross-contaminate. Even after you've cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.

3.    Cook – Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to cool for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.

4.    Chill – Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods promptly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to 1 hour).

Remember these tips to protect your family and friends from food-borne illness during this picnic season! Visit the CDC for more information about food safety.

Pennsylvania's New Child Passenger Safety Law

Pennsylvania's Child Passenger Safety Law was enhanced when Senate Bill 1152 was signed into law by Governor Wolf on June 13, 2016. The law requires children to be secured in a car seat facing the rear of the vehicle until age two, unless the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer. The law takes effect on August 12, 2016.

So what does this mean?
  • All drivers are responsible for securing children in the appropriate child restraint system.
  • All children from birth up to age 4 must be secured in an approved child passenger restraint system anywhere in the vehicle.
  • A child younger than two years of age shall be secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system, to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Violators are subject to a fine of $75.00, plus Court Costs, $45.00 Surcharge, $10.00 EMS, and $10.00 Administrative Costs. Total cost: $140.00 + Court Costs.
  • During the first year after August 12, 2016, only verbal warnings will be issued to individuals in violation of the rear-facing requirement of the law.
For more information about this law and other laws regarding child passenger seats in the state of Pennsylvania, visit

Lead Exposure Risk Assessment

In a previous newsletter, we told you that the Lead and Healthy Homes Program would end June 30, 2016.  We said we would develop procedures as to what services we would provide to children, and their families, who have elevated blood lead levels.

The City of York – Bureau of Health knows that children are being exposed to lead hazards, primarily because of the age of our housing.  The Bureau will provide a “Lead Exposure Risk Assessment”, which is education, care coordination, a lead hazard risk assessment, and enforcement of the City’s codified ordinance to remediate the lead hazards, for children with elevated blood lead levels.

Children with a venous blood lead level of 15 ug/dl or greater or two fingerstick samples of 15 ug/dl or greater may be referred for a Lead Exposure Risk Assessment.  Also, children who have had two consecutive blood lead levels between 10 and 14 ug/dl, three months apart, may be referred for an assessment.

Primary Care Providers must complete and fax a referral form to the Bureau. 
If you have any questions, please contact Marilou Yingling at 717-849-2336.

The following links will connect to the procedure to make a referral and to the referral form.

*How to Make a Referral

*Referral Form PCP 061716 - Lead Exposure Risk Assessment Referral

Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On June 23, 2016 the City of York – Bureau of Health held a press conference at Lee’s Food Market, 564 N. Pershing Ave., York, PA, to announce the commencement of the City of York’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative.  The initiative will provide five City of York corner stores with a variety of assistance to support them in offering and promoting healthier options to their customers. 

The assistance will include access to funding that can be used to purchase refrigeration, shelving, and to make other improvements that will increase their ability to stock and sell healthier, fresh foods. In addition, store owners will receive marketing and educational materials to be used in their stores, as well as receive training on how to source and market healthier food options.  This project was funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant.   
In the City of York, and cities across the nation, corner stores provide sustenance to adults and children on a daily basis due to the lack of access to supermarkets and other food retail outlets. It is estimated that 40 percent of elementary school students in the U.S. purchase items at a corner store twice daily, according to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, yet these stores typically serve foods that lack nutritional value and are high in calories and fat. 
“Providing the availability and access to nutritious food options is a pivotal step in moving forward in having a healthier and happier community, after all, our corner stores are cornerstones in our community,” states Mayor C. Kim Bracey.
Cities such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar initiatives in the past few years, demonstrating there is demand for healthy food among low-income consumers and that healthy food is a worthwhile investment for both store owners and local residents.
“This program has the potential to really transform the food landscape in the City of York.  Having limited access to healthy foods in our neighborhoods along with issues related to transportation, it is not surprising to hear that many people are unable to eat healthier foods. This program aims to make eating healthier a more viable choice for those that live, work, play and learn in the City of York,” says Craig Walt, Community Health Services Supervisor.

Participating stores:
  • Lee's Food Market - 564 N. Pershing Ave.
  • Pak's Food Market - 750 E. Princess St.
  • FoodMart - Asian Grocery Store - 380 W. Market St.
  • La Esquina Sabrosa - 100 W. Jackson St.
*Accepting applications for the fifth location - For more information, please call Craig Walt, Community Health Services Supervisor, at 717-846-6730.

City of York - Bureau of Health In the Community

New members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) practice their skills during an exercise this past month.
The York County Heroin Task Force held the York Area Opiate Collaborative mapping session to collaborate and discuss plans to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis in York County on Wednesday June 22, 2016.

Notes from the Doc:
Dr. Matthew Howie

This month, our newsletter continues its tradition of working to share the range of public health issues our bureau, along with community partners, is trying to address. While it can seem a bit random, the common thread you should see is that each subject highlighted  effects groups, or populations, within our community. With this thought of community in mind, I want to draw your attention to the Healthy Corner Store Initiative that the Bureau of Health has been spearheading.
Many of us take for granted the variety of produce available to us when we drive to our grocery store of choice. For many in the city with limited transportation options, the corner store fills the needs for the local community. However, there are often barriers to providing healthy options in corner stores such as availability of affordable produce, means of keeping it fresh, and promoting the healthier foods to their customers. 

While not nearly the size of the supermarkets, these corner stores and bodegas can be critical in terms of food selection for our residents to care for their families. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative aims to support these small businesses in overcoming barriers to providing fresh foods and produce to their customers.  

Thanks for your time and attention. We hope you find the articles timely, helpful, and educational. Please let us know if there are any subjects you would like us to cover in upcoming newsletters.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Matt
Dr. Matthew Howie, MD, Medical Director

Barbara Kovacs, MPA, Director

June 2016 Communicable Disease Report

Zika Media Room - Pennsylvania Department of Health

C. Kim Bracey, Mayor
Copyright © 2016 York City Health Bureau, All rights reserved.

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101 S. George St., P.O. Box 509
York, PA 17405

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