Before 2013 is done, America will suffer another round of foodborne illness.
It’s inevitable. Just last year, an outbreak of E. coli O26 traced to raw clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants savaged six states.
Also last year, ten states were doubled over due to an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis caused by contaminated lettuce served at Taco Bell. That came on the heels of 2011’s Listeria outbreak that killed 36 and sickened 146. That time the culprit was contaminated cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, till then a reputable grower in Colorado.
When and where will it happen next time? Will it come from tainted restaurant fare served up thanks to breaches of food safety protocols up and down the supply line? No doubt it will.
If you work in food service, you need to do everything in your power to make sure you the breach isn’t with you. Getting the training you need will tell your employer and your customers that you take these health risks seriously. When they walk into a restaurant or packaging facility, health inspectors have one question for food managers and food handlers in their crusade to safeguard public health and promote food safety:
“Do you have your certificate?”
Food safety affects us all. No one consumes food that wasn’t handled by a farmer, picker, butcher, processor, packager, cook or waiter at some point. That’s a lot of hands, sanitized or otherwise. As those ingredients make their way from the farm to the customer’s plate, it’s vitally important for the persons at every step along the way to know about food safety. They have to make sure food isn’t contaminated, that it is cooked to a safe temperature, and that it is packaged and stored properly.
The vast majority of the foodservice community is actively involved in some sort of food safety training program. The most notable is the ANSI-CFP Food Protection Manager Certification, an accredited program that is accepted throughout the United States.
ANSI-CFP Food Protection Manager Certification can be purchased with an accompanying online training course or through traditional in-classroom programs. The course is designed to test food managers on concepts related to food protection. The exam ensures food managers have the knowledge required to protect the public from the next potentially deadly outbreak.
Many cities and local jurisdictions today require or recommend food safety training for people in food establishments whose duties involve storing, preparing, displaying, and serving food. Most restaurants, in fact, now require a food safety certification for employment.
So the next time you go out to eat, do yourself and your family a favor. Take note of the general cleanliness of the restaurant. It could be the little things that aren’t quite right, such as slightly greasy utensils or hopelessly limp lettuce in the Romaine salad. Those little red flags could be your invitation to dine somewhere else.
And the next time you’re looking for a job in food service, arm yourself with ANSI-CFP Food Protection Manager Certification. You’ll not only get the tools you need to keep your customers safe, you’ll also show prospective employers that you take your responsibility to the public seriously. And that could just be the deciding factor that gets you the job and launches your career.