Should Food Safety be Mandatory for Every Staff Member

There is no doubt that food safety is critical.  With Michigan requiring that you only need one certified food safety manager, is that enough?

During a recent food safety managers class an interesting discussion took place regarding that question.

The students who were restaurant employees mentioned their concern with taking time off for certification.  The owners talked about the issue of cost.  Both told stories about the struggle to consistently implement standard food safety procedures.

Two examples brought up:

  1. Employees touching money were not washing their hands
  2. Employee touching their face or hair and not washing their hands
  3. Employee has the start of a cold/virus coming in to work

As a restaurant manager or owner, how do you combat this?  If the certified manager isn’t there, who reminds the employees to follow the basics?

It was agreed that the signs regarding food safety did little to remind. After a while it’s just a piece of paper on a wall.

A great suggestion was implementing a regular training for employees (of course WE like that idea).  This is a simple way to make sure your employees are on board.  The next step is key.

KEEP IT SHORT.  Do you like sitting i n 2 hour meetings? Neither do your employees.  Some ideas to keep it simple:

  • Food safety training every other month
  • Train non-management employees to train on food safety
  • Keep it down to the basics. Focus on key critical areas
  • No longer than 20 -30 minutes
  • Give incentives to those employees that teach

By empowering non-management employees to teach the class, you are creating advocates to make sure you plan is implemented.

How are you insuring food safety is a priority at your place of business?

Food Safety Manager for Retail Food Establishments?

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If you don’t currently have a Certified Food Safety Manager on staff for your retail food establishment, the FDA would like to gently nudge you to do so.

As the FDA ramps up food safety efforts, they are encouraging retail food establishments to take the step voluntarily.  Having the choice to do so may soon be out of your hands, as the FDA is pushing state and local regulatory bodies to mandate it.

Currently most states, including Michigan, only require that restaurants have a certified food safety manager on hand.

According to stats from the FDA’s 2008 Trend Analysis Report, restaurants with certified food safety managers are greater compliance than those without.

While the findings of the FDA certainly make sense.  As a retail food establishment, how would you feel about a mandatory requirement?

Importance of Education in Food Saftey

Image from Reuters

Education is key to managing food safety in your restaurant or facility.  Assuming your employees know what to do puts others at risk.  Have you implemented a plan to insure that food safety is taken seriously?

It’s amazing the number of employees that come through food safety certification that say they rarely have any training on the basics of food safety.  This is alarming considering that foodborne illness costs the United States $152 billion annually in health related expenses (see story on Reuters)

With these sort of numbers we can be certain that Congress will take notice.  Some food safety advocates feel our food safety system is antiquated.

Certainly this is part of the problem.  Yet when you consider that in most states, a restaurant is required to have only one employee on hand with food manager certification, you can see why we aren’t catching some foodborne illness that could be contained.

The status quo will always be good enough for some.  Where do you stand at your place of business?

ServSafe® Practice Exam

1.  Evidence of a foodborne-illness outbreak is confirmed when

2.  Why are infants and preschool-age children at higher risk for contracting a foodborne illness?

3.  Which of the following is considered a potentially hazardous food item?

4.  Which of the following is an example of a biological hazard?

5.  Which of the following can cause food to become unsafe?

6.  A foodborne infection occurs when a person eats food containing

7.  Which of the following microorganisms is likely to be found in raw oysters?

8. To grow and reproduce, bacteria need

9.  Which of the following could lead to the contamination of food?

10.  Several customers were diagnosed with scombroid poisoning after eating swordfish at a local seafood restaurant. How could this have been prevented?

11.  An employee is preparing sandwiches in a deli. Which step might contaminate food?

12.  While chopping vegetables, a foodhandler cuts her finger. She should

13.  When washing your hands, you should scrub them for at least

14.  An employee at a fine-dining, Italian restaurant comes to work with a sore throat and fever, but still desires to work. What should the manager have him do?

15.  Which of the following behaviors poses a hazard to the safety of food?

16.  Which training method relies on volunteers acting out a script?

17.  Taking experienced staff away from their tasks is a disadvantage of which training method?

18.  For which reason could an inspector close and operation?

19. Wheezing and hives are symptoms of

20.  To prevent cross contact,

21.  Which organization makes recommendations for food safety regulation of the foodservice industry?

22.  As part of handwashing, foodhandlers must scrub their hands and arms for

23.  What should a manager of a quick service operation do if a foodhandler reports having a sore throat and a fever?

24.  To work with food, a foodhandler with a hand wound must

25.  Which piece of jewelry is a foodhandler allowed to wear?

26.  Foodhandlers should wash their hands before and after

27.  A foodhandler who spends and entire shift forming hamburger patties should change gloves

28.  How should the temperature of a shipment of sour cream be taken when it arrives at an operation?

29.  Which bacteria is commonly linked with cooked rice dishes?

30.  Which is a TCS food?

31.  Scombroid poisoning can be prevented by

32.  Which is a biological contaminant?

33.  Jaundice is a symptom of which foodborne illness?