Training programs and courses in food service safety and sanitation are available through several colleges, culinary institutions and organizations. Although most of these programs and courses are offered in person, others may be available online. Some states require prospective food service employees to take this type of formal training, though it may also be voluntary.
According to ServSafe - a training program available through the National Restaurant Association that teaches safety/sanitation skills to those in the food service industry - its online Food Handler course takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete (www.servsafe.com). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers free online educational resources in food service safety and sanitation. Common topics in these courses can be found below:
- Hygienic practices
- Waste disposal
- Storing foods
- Open wounds
- CDC recommendations
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List of Courses
Fundamentals of Food Safety
Students gain a general overview of concepts in food safety, such as foodborne illness and outbreak, sanitation and proper food storing procedures. They discuss the role and responsibilities of people who work in the food service industry in terms of practicing proper food safety habits. Instructors usually present statistics and facts from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Temperature and Timing
In this portion of a training program, students explore how vital it is to control the time and temperature of foods to help prevent pathogen growth. Topics include the foods that are more likely to become contaminated (TCS foods) and how food service employees should measure the temperature of foods. Students also learn about the correct methods for handling and storing TCS foods, including how to label these foods for storage.
Cross-Contamination and Foodborne Illness
The various ways cross-contamination occurs and can lead to foodborne illness is the focus of this section of a food safety training program. Students survey how bacteria may be transferred from equipment to food, from hand to food and from one food to another. They may discuss bacteria like E. coli, botulism and salmonellosis, and how those working in kitchens can prevent them from occurring.
While completing personal hygiene coursework, students learn about the importance of practicing good personal hygiene and wearing clean clothing to work at all time when employed in the food service industry. Those who may feel healthy are still capable of carrying harmful bacteria that can potentially contaminate food. Lessons cover all ways that humans can transmit bacteria to food, such as being sick or having an open wound.
Sanitation and Cleaning
This part of the training program covers how to recognize and maintain a clean food service environment. Students learn to examine walls, floors and ceilings for unsanitary conditions. They also find out how to properly dispose of waste and the correct way to store cleaning supplies. The segment introduces the techniques for effectively cleaning, maintaining and ventilating a food service environment.