Blog: News Bites and Feeds
 
October 30th, 2013 |

Why My Food Safety Exams Made Me Skeptical About Eating Out

This week I was required to take certification exams for ServSafe and HACCP as a part of my DPD certificate program. What are these exams for exactly? ServSafe and HACCP are designed to teach employees of food service (for example restaurants or fast food vendors) the ways to protect people from foodborne illness.

These types of training programs are essential because they can help reduce the number of foodborne illnesses each year. This issue is a priority. According to ServSafe, millions of people are diagnosed with foodborne illness each year.

These exams cover many concepts: including how to properly handle food as well as how to maintain a clean work environment. Make sure to look for these key things next time you dine out.

  1. Hand Washing– All employees should be required to wash their hands after using the restroom. Unfortunately, this health practice is not as common as it should be. Make sure restaurants post signs that indicate food service workers must wash their hands before returning to work. This is an indicator that they are following food safety practices.
  2. Glove Use– All food service employees are required to use gloves when preparing food, but some restaurants have approval to use bare hands. If you are visiting a place where you can watch the preparation of your food, check that…
    • New gloves are put on before your dish is made
    • Gloves are touched minimally when they are put on
    • Hands are washed before putting on gloves (gloves do not supplement good hygiene)
    • Money and food are not touched with the same gloves
  3. Time Temperature Control– Food should be cooked and maintained at the proper temperature.
    • Be mindful if you are having something prepared underdone (rare, medium rare, or medium) that you are increasing your chance of foodborne illness.
    • When visiting buffets, soup stations, and salad bars, make sure that all temperatures are checked regularly. If they are not, you should tell the manager that he or she is increasing your risk of foodborne illness.

I know that never eating out again is unrealistic; however, I am now more aware of the establishments where I choose to eat. The moral of the story is to prepare your own food, or make sure that the restaurant you are visiting follows a food safety plan.

Make sure your food is safe. Just ask— “Are you ServSafe or HACCP certified?”

 

By Stephanie Snell, guest blogger, Master’s Candidate at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy