Food Handler Class
Use Wholesome Food
(relates to inspection form #9,10)You want all the food in your store or restaurant to be healthy and safe right from the start. This section talks about where the food comes from, how to check it, how to store it and how to handle it.
Where did that food come from?
Use food that comes from sources that are approved by the Health Department-that's the law. Look for "USDA" on meats. Look for "Pasteurized" on milk. Look for certification tags on the packages of shellfish and save for 90 days. Canned foods, fresh foods, eggs and dairy products must come from companies, brokers or dairies that have been licensed and inspected.
You cannot sell food that has been prepared at someone's home. Food for the public must be prepared in a kitchen approved for that purpose. People trained by the Health Department, Food Inspectors, must check the kitchen to make sure you prepare and store the food in a safe way.
- Check the food as it comes in. It's a good idea to write the date on it before you store it.
- Look for unsafe adulterated foods. Moldy food, smelly meat, damaged or swollen cans are not safe to use. If you are not sure, get rid of it. Remember the rule: "If in doubt, throw it out."
- Tell your boss or food manager about any bad food you find.
- Good Food Needs Good Storage
Examples of improper storage:
- Food not covered and stacked on top of one another.
- Cross contamination of a raw product (meat) stored next to a ready-to-eat food item, such as lettuce.
- Food stored in non-food containers.
of improper storage:
Meat stacked on top of one another is a cross contamination issue and is improperly stored.
Take special care of storing food in your dry storage area:
- Keep all foods six inches off the floor.
- Rotate the stock by storing foods so you can use older foods first. "First in, first out" is a good rule to follow.
- Cover, label and date dry foods.
- Store foods away from cleaners and poisons.
- Do not store foods in galvanized cans or other containers with metal coatings. (Some foods can "pull off" the metal and that can cause poisoning.) If plastic bags are used, they must be approved for food use.
- Store food in clean, safe containers with labels and dates.
- Check the temperature: Freezers need to keep food hard to the touch.
- Put raw meat on the lowest shelf and unwashed food below clean cooked food.
- Refrigerated foods need to be 41°F (5°C) or colder. In general, foods will keep longer at colder temperatures.
Keep Foods Safe From Cross contamination (relates to inspection form #12)
As a food handler, you must prevent cross contamination. Cross contamination happens when harmful organisms from raw or unclean food get into foods that are ready to serve or that will not be cooked again before you serve them.
Here are some important ways that you can prevent cross contamination:
Example of cross
Ready-to-eat food product should be separated from raw meat.
- Store raw meat, fish and poultry on the lower shelves of the refrigerator.
- Do not let raw meat, fish or poultry drip onto other foods.
- Wash your hands between handling raw meat and foods that will not be cooked before eating.
- Never store foods that will not be cooked before serving in the same container as raw meat, fish, or poultry.
- Use a hard cutting surface or a board with no splits or holes where harmful organisms can collect. It is easier to clean a smooth surface.
- Wash, rinse and sanitize the cutting surface and all the utensils and knives every time you finish cutting raw meat, fish or poultry.
- Wash your hands before handling food.
- Wash, rinse, and sanitize the cutting surface and all utensils, including knives, every time you finish with a job or between preparing different foods.
- Use utensils to mix food.
- Store bulk foods in covered bins and containers with labels.
- Use utensils with bulk foods. Store scoops and tongs with handle extended out of the food.
What Can You Add To Food?
Chemicals that you add to food as you prepare it are food additives. You cannot add sulfiting agents at a store or restaurant. In the State of Texas, there is a law against adding these chemicals at the retail level. You cannot use ingredients for freshening or whitening if they contain sulfiting agents.
Some people are allergic to sulfites. Employees in food service should learn what menu items already have sulfites in them, so that they can tell their customers who ask.
If anyone complains about getting sick from food additives, you or your supervisor must report it to the Health Department.