Do you eat out in place of home-cooked meals?
Who doesn’t these days?
We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even more snacks, in restaurants, cafes, fast food joints – – even the gas station (which isn’t our grandparents’ gas station).
In 2011, we ate 194 meals out throughout the year on average and certainly that number is higher now.
Food is readily available, though of varying quality, just about wherever we go.
Have you ever asked yourself, who is preparing this food and how are they handling it?
Detective FoodSafe™ does. She wants to know where it comes from, how it is stored and even, more importantly, how well trained in safe food handling practices the people who are chopping and cooking our food really are.
The headlines are abundant about how safe our food is coming to us from the field, who is harvesting it and how its transportation may be putting our family’s health at risk. We hear about Salmonella contaminated cucumbers, canned fish with botulism, antibiotic laden animals, unexpected allergens in cereal and listeria in cheese.
Unfortunately, our food supply can become contaminated despite the effort of government regulations and inspections.
What might put us all even more at risk for foodborne illness is food handling procedures – or lack of proper procedures in our neighborhood eateries.
Food Related Illness in Restaurants – Most Frequent Causes
It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as many as 128,000 people are hospitalized as a result of foodborne illness and 3,000 die each year.
The CDC reports that 1 in 6 people will get foodborne illness. During the CDC reporting period of 2009-2010, restaurants were responsible for 48% of the foodborne illness outbreaks. No recent data about the prevalence of outbreaks occurring specifically from restaurants is available from the CDC.
Here are some reasons we might be at risk when we eat in restaurants:
- Failure to properly cool food
- Failure to thoroughly heat or cook food
- Infected employees with poor personal hygiene
- Foods remaining in the temperature danger zone
- Failure to thoroughly reheat cooked foods to proper temperature
- Cross contamination of cooked food with raw food
- Improperly cleaned equipment
- Adding raw contaminated food into previously cooked food and not reheating properly
There are many points along the road our food travels where it can be mismanaged and mishandled resulting in contamination.
Contamination of our food leading to foodborne illness is preventable. Everywhere we are served food, whether a restaurant, deli, gas station, church function, sporting event, or food truck, the people making the food should be aware of their role in food safety.
Certification for Food Handlers
Most states have some requirements regarding food handler certifications, sometimes called a permit. Many states only stipulate that one person in the restaurant be certified and that person is thought to be responsible for training and oversight of all other employees. Some states require specific jobs to be certified and many managers or owners choose to be credentialed.
Anyone working in food service can be certified.
Taking a class to learn about food safety and passing a test is the best way to do that and anyone can do it.
Who is certified in your favorite restaurant? You will only know for sure if you ask.
Some restaurants proudly display the certificates of completion of a course in safe food handling but just because they don’t have them hanging up for all to see doesn’t mean that they are not certified – – nor does the presence of certificates mean the one handling your food this time is certified.
What Are Some Things Certification Teaches?
Becoming certified as a safe food handler is very important for our well-being and theirs as well – no one wants to spread disease.
Unknowingly, food handlers can spread contamination that makes us all sick.
Certification classes include these topics important to ensuring the food prepared for and served to us doesn’t make us sick.
- learning about potential diseases and which foods are prone to contamination
- avoiding cross contamination
- personal hygiene
- safe food storage
- time and temperature danger zones
- receiving safe food
- cleaning/sanitation practices
- first in first out
- pest management
- security of the food supply
How does Detective FoodSafe know this? She is ServSafe Certified and an expert in food safety!
Advocating for our health and wellness, learning about the restaurants we choose to visit and sharing how our food choices can affect our food safety is Detective FoodSafe’s goal.
Keeping you and your family safe from harm caused by the food you eat is her mission!