What Basic Fast Food Safety Training Covers
Training in food safety and safe food handling is central to operations in the fast food sector. The objective of the training is to minimise food-based contamination and to safeguard public health. Basic fast food safety training encompasses best practices and precautionary measures across 3 core areas- handling, cooking and serving food to the public. Food safety training teaches a food manager or food handler to identify contamination risks; follow certain techniques to avoid food contamination; practice personal hygiene; monitor time and temperature control for all food items; avoid cross-contamination risks; and follow effective sanitization procedures.
The United States has over 200,000 fast food restaurants operating across the country. It makes the fast food sector one of the largest and fastest growing in the restaurant industry. It is precisely because of its size, and the speed at which it operates, that fast food restaurants are at high risk of falling short of safe food standards. The risks multiple when one considers that meat is an integral part of the American fast food diet. (Hamburgers are synonymous with American culture.) Basic Fast Food Safety Training mitigates these risks.
The 3-fold Path to Basic Fast Food Safety Training
1. Maintain personal hygiene- It is important that all food handlers, from assembly line operators, to servers, and curbside delivery workers, maintain a high level of hygiene. Personal hygiene includes keeping hands and fingernails clean and well-trimmed; washing hands with soap and water before and after food handling; washing hands before and after using the restroom; wearing clean clothes and shoes; wearing a clean cap or hairnet to cover the head.
2. Avoid Cross-contamination from food- When operating in a high-functioning fast food kitchen, chances of cross contamination from one food item to another are high. This is particularly true of raw and cooked food. It is therefore important to wash hands after handling raw food. Additionally, a separate set of utensils ought to be used for raw and cooked food, and these should be washed frequently. It is equally vital to keep raw and cooked food separate.
3. Sanitize surfaces- Safe food handling measures include the regular sanitization of all surfaces in the kitchen, serving, and dining areas. It is absolutely essential to wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant. It is also necessary to scour all utensils and equipment, to prevent the transmission of pathogens and harmful microorganisms.
Why is Basic Fast Food Safety Training Important?
Improper food handling practices can lead to diseases being transmitted to staff and customers. In 2006, Taco Bell was at the centre of a food-borne outbreak in the U.S. when over 70 people contracted the E. coli bacteria. Upon investigation, the FDA discovered the company's shredded lettuce was the source of infection.
Thousands of fast food outlets serve millions of customers everyday. They have a huge responsibility to make sure they don't compromise people's health through a lapse in food safety standards. By building a reputation for safe food, a fast food outlet is also building its own reputation. It will be acknowledged as a brand that can be trusted with the health of its customers.
On the flip side, the damage to a brand's reputation from flouting food safety norms can sink a food service business. Even if it doesn't shutter it entirely, bad press can cost the brand heavily in expensive damage-control exercises. Prominent fast food chains have buckled from criticism for deficient food safety measures and inadequate food safety training of food handlers.
Is Basic Fast Food Safety Training the Same as Food Safety Training?
Food handler training and food manager training are both extensions of the food safety curriculum. They cover Basic Fast Food Safety Training as well. Training programs are designed by ANSI-accredited course providers. ANSIthe American National Standards Institutemakes sure food handling programs are current, and rigorous in their coverage of safe food handling techniques and practices.
On completion of a food handlers program or course, participants receive a food handlers card. The food handlers card is a license or permit. It says a food worker is fit for safe food handling and is eligible to work at a food service outlet. All food handlers in foodservice must undergo basic food safety training. This includes workers at a fast food chain.
Food manager training deals with much more. The food safety manager certificate prepares a foodservice business manager to oversee the work of food handlers. The manager make sure all food handlers at an establishment adhere to basic food safety regulations.
Is Basic Fast Food Safety Training Mandatory?
All restaurants and foodservice establishments must have at least one worker trained in basic food safety. They must possess a food handlers card. The same holds true for all fast food chains, where workers must get their food handler card within 30 days of getting hired. Most states have also made it compulsory for servers at a fast food chain to own a food handler card.
The training course for the handler card typically takes 2-3 hours to complete. This depends, of course, on local public health guidelines. The course and accompanying test cost between $7 and $10. Restaurant associations across the country accept all ANSI-accredited food handler cards.
Best Places To Get Your Basic Fast Food Safety Training
The market is flooded with vendors offering food safety courses and food handler cards. However, it's important to look for the ones that are ANSI-accredited. The accredited food handler card guarantees that a food worker is trained in handwashing techniques, sanitization methods, measures to prevent food contamination, maintaining a clean kitchen, and proper food handling techniques that prevent food-borne diseases. The training program also teaches time and temperature control techniques to ensure food is cooked and served at a safe temperature.
The best ANSI-accredited food safety training and food handler cards are provided by ZipFoodHandler, StateFoodSafety, and eFoodCard. The training programs take about 60 minutes to complete. Browse course features, fees, and time-slots to choose the best option for you. Remember, different statesand sometimes even different countieshave different training programs. It's vital to review options listed within a particular jurisdiction before enrolling for a course. A course provider in New York may not have the same offerings in New Mexico or San Diego, so it is best to check for your state before applying.
How Expensive is Basic Fast Food Safety Training?
Food handler training costs $7-$10. This includes the 60-minute training course, as well as the examination. Most food handler program vendors allow you two retakes of the test, in case you fail the first attempt. On the other hand, the food manager training program and test can cost about $60-80, depending on the options chosen. The food manager training is a more rigorous and detailed training program that also teaches managerial duties, such as overseeing food safety practices at an establishment.
Can Basic Fast Food Safety Training Happen On Site?
Fast food restaurants, particularly large chains, need a significant number of their staff trained and certified in food safety. Some companies need to have the training tailor-made to their operations. They also need the training to be standardized across multiple locations. It is to meet these specific needs of the fast-food sector that several food safety vendors conduct food safety training on site. This of course depends wholly on whether or not the management wants on-site training.