All restaurants and other places that serve food to the public will be required to have policies covering how to safely clean up vomit and diarrhea and will have to have bodily fluid cleanup kits.
Despite critical questions from several council members at last week’s public hearing, the City Council voted 5-1 Monday to require both the written policy and the kits as part of the city code for the more than 1,000 licensed food establishments.
Councilwoman Jane Raybould, who had many questions about the kit requirement last week, said she discovered that having the bodily fluid kits is a fairly common practice across the city.
Raybould, who is part of the management team for the Russ’s and Super Saver grocery stores, said she learned during the week that all the stores carry kits, which cost between $12 to $15.
“I stand corrected,” she said Monday, explaining her vote in favor of the new requirements. Last week, she suggested the cleanup kit proposal might be overregulation.
“It's not so simple," she said this week. "We want to be on the side of caution, of looking after the public safety.”
Only Councilman Roy Christensen, who had also voiced skepticism last week that employees would actually use the kits, voted against adopting the new food establishment codes.
The Lincoln requirements go beyond what either the state or federal government recommend. The federal government’s model code recommends requiring a written policy but not the kits. The state recommends neither.
About 56 percent of the Lincoln food establishments that participated in a survey had a written policy covering cleanup procedures and just less than 50 percent had a bodily fluid kit on the premise.
The cleanup of vomit and diarrhea should be done very carefully, because both can be the result of someone who has norovirus, a highly contagious virus, according to Lincoln-Lancaster County Department of Health staff.