Would you like flies with that? Food safety training
When we go into a restaurant, we put our trust in its staff to give us food that’s in tip-top shape. Our health and happiness depend on procedures like maintaining the cold chain, cleaning surfaces, sterilizing utensils, checking cooking temperatures and a lot of other details that can make the difference between healthy and dangerous. A chef can kill a customer with a bad scallop, and even if everything is impeccably clean, you can still kill an allergy sufferer with a fragment of peanut. Hence the need for a tightly-regulated catering industry. Food safety procedures should be a matter of course in any catering establishment, and rigorous certification requirements ensure that they stay that way.
But there will always be a few bad eggs. When caterers hit the headlines, it’s often for the wrong reasons, even with previously impeccable reputations. News like this leaves a closed-down or heavily fined restaurant in its wake. Foodsafetynews.com lists foodborne illness instances and outbreaks in the U.S., and it makes pretty grim reading. Nineteen people sickened across nine states in salad-borne listeria outbreak. Cryptosporidium hits Ohio restaurants. E.Coli outbreak hits Hillsboro, Oregon. Vibrio Vulnificus (that one’s nasty, it’s like cholera) found in seafood at Baltimore fish joint.
Those things are all really icky and you don’t want to get them, or even less get caught serving food infected with them. I mean, bleagh.
A recent story about an unlicensed wedding caterer in Tacoma, Washington highlights the pointlessness of not getting food safety certified. After repeatedly dodging the law he now faces fines in excess of $700 and his name is mud, but a food handling certificate would have cost him as little as $12. He could have done it online in a matter of 2 hours with a company like Responsibletraining.com, a specialist in food handler, alcohol server and food manager certifications.
Our hearts go out to the PR officer for Chipotle Mexican Grill, the Denver-based fast food chain caught in a perfect storm of litigation over cases of Salmonella, E. Coli and Norovirus stemming from its restaurants. With more rigorous food safety training, they might still be doing good business, but instead, like a lot of their customers’ lunches, they are going down the pan.
Those wishing to pursue a career in catering can also get the basics of the whole profession from IOA with their online course in Food and Beverage Management.