Advisory During Boil Water Notice and Water Outage

Advisory During Boil Water Notice and Water Outage

The Division of Environmental Health of the Department of Public Health and Social Services is reminding all eating and drinking establishments (i.e., restaurants, caterers, stall stands, and mobile food service operators) and food establishments (i.e., retail stores, supermarkets, water vending machine and water and ice manufacturers) that in the event of a boil-water notice, or if they had recently encountered a water outage, to take the following precautions:

  1. Potable water is the only acceptable water that should be used in the facility during operations.
  2. Alternate potable water sources (i.e., bottled and packaged water) are allowed provided it is obtained from an approved source and contained in food-grade containers.
  3. In the event that operators are relying on the municipal water supply system for their business, all water must be boiled vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes prior to use.
  4. Proper sanitation and good personal hygiene practices (i.e., hand-washing) should be followed at all times using potable water.
  5. Sufficient supply of potable water should be maintained at all times while in operation to ensure sanitary standards can be met. 
  6. All disinfected water should be stored in cleaned, tightly covered containers.
  7. Containers for water should be rinsed with a bleach solution prior to use.
  8. Facilities not using potable should cease operations immediately.

Use of non-potable water is acceptable for toilet facilities; however, it cannot be used for hand-washing by the employees and customers.  If a food establishment is permitting its customers to dine-in, the toilet facilities must be made available to them; otherwise, only take-out is permitted.

Furthermore, all water vending machine operators (including soda fountains and other beverage dispensers) and water and ice manufacturers are reminded that their operations must be halted if affected by water outage or a boil water notice.  Unless the operators can demonstrate otherwise, these systems are meant to only "treat" potable water for taste quality, and not to decontaminate non-potable water for human consumption. 

These operators should consult with the manufacturer for instructions to properly flush and disinfect their systems, and change the filters as necessary, prior to use, once the boil water notice has been cancelled.  Health inspectors from the Division of Environmental Health will be visiting and contacting these establishments to ensure compliance.  For more information, please contact the Joint Information Center.

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