AUSTIN, Texas – Health officials are keeping an eye on Austin restaurants to ensure customers don’t get sick from contaminated water during the boil water notice.
- Restaurants making adjustments during boil water notice
- Required to use bottled or boiled water for cooking
- Risk of illness if contaminated water is consumed
Restaurants are making adjustments to while the boil water notice is still in effect after a week of Central Texas flooding. Austin Public Health's food inspectors have been working overtime since the boil order has been implemented.
Officials have 24 environmental officers dedicated to inspecting restaurants to make sure they comply. As of right now, no one has been reported sick from contaminated water.
Under the boil order, Austin Public Health emphasized the need to make changes in operations to keep people safe and save time. With the advisory, restaurants are required to only use bottled or boiled water to cook.
Commercial dishwashers in restaurants reach a high enough temperature to safely wash dishes. Employees are allowed to wash their hands with tap water, but they have to follow it by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer then putting on gloves for food preparation.
While restaurants have their own filtration systems, health officials said it's not enough.
"It is theoretically possible to filter out protozoa, such as cryptosporidium, and other kinds of contaminants but the risk is too great," said Don Hastings with Austin Public Health.
The risk is even greater for children and anyone whose immune system has been compromised. Consuming contaminated water can lead to gastro-intestinal illnesses.
So far, no restaurants have been cited for not following the protocol.