Testing Positive for Total Coliform Bacteria
Safe Food is Good Business

Information for Food, Beverage and Lodging Establishments Served by a Drinking Water Supply

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Drinking Water Supply Testing Positive for Total Coliform Bacteria (PDF: 37KB/2 page)

This information should assist you if water-sampling results have detected total coliform bacteria in the water supply serving your establishment. Complying with the following will help ensure your establishment’s continued safe operation.

On this page:
Posting Requirements
Safe Water Options
Restaurants and Bars
Lodging Establishments

Posting Requirements

All sinks, faucets, drinking water fountains, lodging rooms and other locations where the public can obtain drinking water, must be posted to alert the public of the contamination. Food establishments must also provide notice at the entry doors, or at each table. Lodging establishments must also provide notice at the check-in location.

The Minnesota Department of Health, or your local health department, will provide copies of a posting notice that contains the necessary language. Postings must include the following information:

The public water supply serving this facility has been found to contain total coliform bacteria. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth and food preparation.

The public water supply operator is in the process of disinfecting the system. For your safety, until the contamination problem has been corrected, safe drinking water is provided as follows:

  • Water being served, or used for food preparation [is commercial bottled water] or [has been boiled to kill bacteria]; and/or
  • bottled water is being provided in your room.

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Safe Water Options

Water used for drinking, food preparation, and diluting cleaning solutions that are used on food contact surfaces must be:

  • commercially bottled water;
  • from a potable water tank truck with water from an approved public water supply and with at least a free chlorine residual of 0.5 part per million; or
  • from building faucets; only if the water is boiled at least one minute, and then allowed to cool, before being used.

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Restaurants and Bars

Ice: Use commercial ice made from an establishment that is not affected by this boil order. Discard all ice previously made using water from the contaminated public water supply.

Ice bins: Wash with water from an approved source and sanitize in place, prior to reuse, with approximately one-tablespoon bleach per gallon of water for 30 seconds.

Ice machines: Do not use until the water supply has been restored.

Beverages: Any beverage combined with water from the water supply system must be discarded, i.e. juices, ice tea, coffee. Beverage dispenser systems which are directly connected to the water supply such as coffee machines and post-mix beverages cannot be used until safe water is restored and the beverage lines are flushed with safe water. Bottled and canned beverages may be served.

Fruits, vegetables and other foods: Use pre-washed and packaged fruits and vegetables obtained from approved commercial sources. Do not use water from the affected water supply to wash fruits and vegetables.

Thawing foods: Foods must be thawed in the refrigerator or as part of the cooking process. Do not use running water from the affected water supply to thaw foods.

Washing hands: Tap water may be used for hand washing. Food service workers must wash hands at designated hand washing sinks.

Washing utensils, pots, pans, dishes: Utensils, pots, pans and dishes may be washed, rinsed and sanitized by:

  • manual washing with an approved sanitizer at appropriate concentration for the sanitizer used in the third compartment of the sink; or
  • using a commercial hot water or chemical sanitizing dishwashing machine provided operating temperatures and sanitizer concentrations meet manufacturer’s specifications and are verified by the establishment operator.

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Lodging Establishments

Check-in: Provide public notice to guests at check-in.

Ice Machines and Beverages: Follow the actions noted above in the Restaurants and Bars section.
Laundering linens: Tap water may be used for automatic clothes washing machines when used with detergents.

Rooms: Provide sealed commercially bottled water in each room in addition to the required posting.

Bathing: Tap water may be used for taking showers and baths, unless high concentrations of chlorine have been added to disinfect the water system. Infants and young children should not bathe using contaminated water, since they may ingest water while taking a bath. Guests should be informed of precautions to take.

Tooth Brushing: Bottled water is to be used for tooth brushing.

Pets: Pets should only consume commercial bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least one minute, and then allowed to cool before use.

Swimming pools: A free disinfectant residual must be maintained at all times as specified in the public swimming pool rules.

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Updated Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 04:46PM