The recipient of the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment’s 2006 Leader in Food Safety Award is Hokes Barbecue, located at 9134 W. 88th Ave.. The Leader in Food Safety Award is designed to recognize restaurants and other food service establishments in Jefferson County for their exemplary food safety practices.

"Food establishments that consistently demonstrate a commitment to safe food handling and preparation are essential to our goal of reducing the incidence of food-borne illness. We want to thank the staff and the management of these establishments for their prevention efforts." said Dave Hooker, consumer protection supervisor. The Leader in Food Safety award is presented each year in September during National Food Safety Education Month.

The nominations were made by the Environmental Health Specialists who performmore than3,500 routine food safety inspections each year in Jefferson County. Preventing food-borne illness and death remains a public health challenge. The Centers for Disease Control estimatesmore than76 million people get sick, more than 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,200 Americans die each year from food-borne illness.

Thus far in 2006, Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) has followed up on 118 reported cases of food-borne illness, (51 salmonella, 56 Campylobacter, 5 e. coli 0157:H7, 6 hepatitis A). It is likely that many more went unreported. Most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented with proper food handling and preparation procedures such as regular handwashing and cooking and cooling to proper temperatures.

The Leader in Food Safety award is an opportunity to recognize those who do an exceptional job in protecting the health of the public and to educate others about food safety. Leader in Food Safety" Award Criteria- Operators have placed a high value on safe food handling practices and training by:

• No critical violations in a 12-month period involving food temperatures, cross contamination and hand washing that have not been corrected as required.

• Demonstrating a commitment to food safety by reducing or eliminating critical violations.

• Routine provision of an Excellence in Food Safety class or equivalent program for employees

• No documented cases of food-borne illness during the past 12 months.