Sunday, February 18, 2018

Food safety manageable with training, information

Feb. 4, 2018 at 12:43 a.m.

I recently took a class in food management. The study guide for this class is "Food Safety - It's Our Business," by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If I make a 95 on the test, then AgriLife Extension Gregg County can offer the Food Protection Management course for all restaurant managers. As I was reading through the guide, I found some interesting and important information I would like to share.

A section of the guide covers "Highly Susceptible Populations." This section shares information that is important for restaurants to ensure proper food management for older adults, young children and people who are immunocompromised. Why are these three groups important for restaurant managers and food service facilities? The guide states these groups are susceptible to illness for a variety of reasons.

Seniors are at risk because of poor nutrition, a weakened immune system, and decreased stomach acid. Children have underdeveloped immune systems and less stomach acid. People who are immunocompromised have had illnesses that lower the body's response to infection. If any of these individuals encounter a foodborne illness or unclean foods, then it could jeopardize their health and cause them to become very ill. It would be hard for their bodies to fight the illness, and they could experience other health issues as a result.

You also should understand information regarding the illnesses that you can contract if the facility is not following the guidelines required for highly susceptible populations. A foodborne illness is an illness transmitted to people through food that has been contaminated. There is also foodborne infection, which is a harmful microorganism that is consumed and multiplies in the intestines of a person, causing an infection. Symptoms are rarely immediate. There is foodborne intoxication, which occurs when a toxin in food is eaten and then causes an intoxication. Onset ranges from 30 minutes to three days.

How can the highly susceptible populations prevent foodborne illness? Be mindful of what you eat, where it is prepared and how it is prepared. Your safest way of doing this is to eat raw foods that are prepared at home, but I know that is not always possible. If you do eat out or someone is preparing your meals for you in a facility, then you should be mindful of how they are preparing your meal and if they are following guidelines. Some of these are listed below:

Employees should not be working if they have signs of illness. The manager should send them home so their illness is not spread. Symptoms could include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and/or sore throat with fever. Employees should report these symptoms to the manager so they can leave the premises.

Employees should be trained in food safety and following the rules. For example, they are not to touch the tops of the glass when serving a beverage, and they should always pick the glass up at the bottom as to not touch the rim when refilling a beverage.

Employees should be using good hand-washing techniques, including frequent hand-washing and no bare hand contact with ready to eat food.

Employees should maintain good hygiene by keeping their nails trimmed and clothes clean. They should not wear jewelry, as this can hold food and spread illness. The only acceptable jewelry is a plain ring, like a wedding band.

Employees should wear hair restraints.

Employees should not be exposed to food if experiencing persistent sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose or discharge from eyes, nose or mouth.

- Tami Putnam is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County.



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