September is National Food Safety Education Month! At CALV, we take food safety seriously with students and staff. “We are a school and it’s our responsibility to teach the students coming into this building the basic foundation of food safety, so that when they get a job, they understand all the basics. It’s such a simple thing, but getting people to wash their hands is so challenging. It’s something that you have to constantly remind people of,” Janeen Rozat (Director of Food & Beverage and Logistics) said.
Kirsten Considine (Food and Beverage Instructor) is a proctor for ServSafe certifications, which are required by those who work in a food establishment in the State of Nevada. “If you’re in the hospitality business, I can’t think of anything more important than knowing how not to make people sick, how to make sure they’re using the chemicals correctly. Taking care of people doesn’t mean just getting your food out in a timely manner. It means taking care of people by washing your hands, wearing clean gloves, and not contaminating everything.”
According to the CDC, 48 million people are infected by foodborne illnesses yearly, and 3,000 die as a result. Children under five and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. Kirsten says part of food safety is being aware of guests’ allergens and taking them seriously. “What if it was your mother? What if it was your kid? What if it was you that had an allergy? Think about that the next time you go out to dinner, the next time you go to work. We’re here in the hospitality business to take care of people.”
Managers in restaurants require a more in-depth food safety certification. “The Southern Nevada Health District has some new policies, and one of the things is a new term called PIC, the person in charge. That means the restaurant’s general manager and assistant manager, whoever is in charge that day, the health department, will now approach that individual and ask them questions about what happens if someone is sick and what are the symptoms of jaundice? So, the managers now have to be able to answer those questions for the health department,” Janeen said. This certification is important because managers are responsible for ensuring front-of-house and back-of-house staff follow food safety guidelines to keep guests safe. “Food prep becomes so monotonous—it’s chopping vegetables, cutting the fat off the steak, but all of those things have very specific rules in order to keep everyone safe. When you are doing food prep, you have to understand about cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a big cause of foodborne illnesses.”
Here are some helpful food safety tips from the FDA you can practice at home: