January 10. 2018 11:43PM
To the Editor: Your recent editorial, “Rats! Overreaction in Portsmouth,” insinuates that Portsmouth is now requiring all outdoor decks to be enclosed and/or walled in. This is not accurate.
The city isn’t requiring the enclosure of outdoor seating and eating areas of outdoor decks, but is only requiring — during non-operating hours — enclosure of outdoor beverage bar areas and equipment that store, prepare, hold, or serve food or beverages.
While you state this, you continue, “Restaurants should take care to protect their outdoor equipment. That should not necessitate walling in every deck and patio.” This creates a misconception that we are requiring the entirety of any restaurant patio/outdoor area to be walled in, which is untrue. Only food service equipment/contact surfaces need to be enclosed or protected against entry of pests and other sources of contamination.
The FDA Food Code, which the city has adopted, contains provisions to protect public health based on decades of scientific research. Enclosure requirements are the means to comply with these provisions. They protect the public by preventing contamination of outdoor bar areas and equipment from many sources of contamination: rats, mice, birds, wind-blown road/construction dust, rain, snow or run-off from roofs/buildings, as well as intentional adulteration or unintentional contamination by unauthorized people. An additional provision exists stating the enclosures may be waived if adequate protection can be provided by other effective means.
Portsmouth has many wonderful restaurants and outdoor beverage bars that adequately provide protection against contamination. Outdoor dining is alive and well in our city.
City of Portsmouth