According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food and beverages each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illness takes a $15.6 billion bite out of the economy every year.
The State of Ohio recently added a training requirement for restaurants and food service facilities. The code states that at least one supervisor or manager in each facility successfully complete an Ohio Department of Health-approved “Level 2” food safety course prior to March, 2017. As a result, Hamilton County Public Health has seen an exponential increase – nearly 700 percent – in course enrollment since January of this year.
“The majority of our operators maintain clean and safe environments says Hamilton County Health Commissioner, Tim Ingram. The increase in training shows that they are taking the requirements and food safety training seriously. The benefits of training can only be a good thing in terms of protecting our health, as poor food handling practices can quickly lead to extensive spread of illness,” Ingram adds.”
Since 2010, Hamilton County Public Health has offered its “Clean Kitchen Award” to restaurants and food service operations that exemplify good food safety practices. “The award has become one of our most popular programs,” Ingram says. “When you are out and about looking for a place to eat, if you see our Clean Kitchen Award displayed, you can be sure that the establishment works hard to maintain a clean and safe operation. If they don’t have an award displayed, you might ask them why. You can also see inspection reports for any of the operations in our jurisdiction on our website at www.hcph.org.”
Hamilton County Public Health offers two levels of food safety training for food service and retail food operators. The “Level 1” course, which is about two-and-a-half hours in length, covers the basic aspects of food safety including food sources, personal hygiene, and proper cooking and holding temperatures for food. All food service operations and retail food establishments opened after March 1, 2010, must have at least one person per shift who has attended the course or its equivalent.
The “Level 2,” course, also known as “ServSafe,” is more extensive and encompasses two full days of training. The course offers food protection manager certification covering microbiological concepts, more critical processes involved in food preparation, employee health, and several other topics.
“We find that our food safety courses are attended by not only professional operators, but also people interested in safe and sanitary food practices,” Ingram says. “With recent media focus on disease outbreaks caused by poor food handling, food safety has generated interest from a wide segment of the population. For instance, we find people working in food service for church festivals, as well as those who sell prepared foods at farmers’ markets and other cottage-type operations attending our courses. As a health commissioner, interest in food safety always makes me smile!”
For more information on food safety or to register for a course, call Hamilton County Public Health’s Environmental Health Division at 513-946-7847.
Posted by: HCPH