Food Handler Class
What Makes People Sick From Food?
Food Borne Illness
People can get sick when the food they eat has harmful organisms. Harmful organisms cause food borne illness or food poisoning. Harmful organisms grow easily in foods like meat (fish, poultry, pork, beef, deli meats, etc...) milk, cheeses, eggs, cooked beans and rice,baked potatoes, alfalfa sprouts and cut melons. These are called potentially hazardous foods. These are all foods that are moist or damp, and they have protein that the harmful organisms need to grow. Harmful organisms grow well on these and other foods kept warm in the , which is any temperature between 41° -135° F.
Part of your job is to protect the food and to stop harmful organisms from spreading, so that no one will get sick.
- First, wash your hands well.
- Second, be sure that the food is wholesome and protect it from harmful organisms.
- Third, if you keep food very hot or cold, out of the , harmful organisms will not continue to reproduce.
There are different kinds of harmful organisms:
Bacteria are the most common. They are everywhere, they grow fast, and they may spoil food or cause food borne illness. Some bacteria make toxins. Some toxins are not destroyed by normal cooking. Almost always the food looks and smells good, but it may have enough bacteria or toxin to make someone sick. Two examples of this are roast beef that has not been kept cold enough, and chicken soup that has not been kept hot enough.
A virus is another kind of harmful organism that causes illness. A virus can be in liquids and foods that a sick person touches. A virus can also be in raw or uncooked foods.
Parasites are tiny worms that live in fish and meat. They die if they are frozen long enough or cooked long enough.
Chemicals, such as rat bait or cleaners, can also cause food poisoning. You must be sure to keep all chemicals away from food.
Examples of Food Borne Illness
Salmonella bacteria are often found in eggs and on poultry and meats, but can come from other sources. People handling raw poultry and meats can easily contaminate their hands, cutting boards and utensils with Salmonella. Wash and sanitize all items that have been used with raw poultry and meats before using them for other foods. Foods that are not cooked, such as salads and cold sandwiches, can easily make people ill with Salmonella food poisoning.
Symptoms of salmonella food poisoning:
- Stomach pain, diarrhea, chills, nausea, vomiting, and a fever of 101-104 degrees.
- Illness usually occurs within 6-72 hours (average 12-36 hours) after eating contaminated food. Usually lasts from 2-7 days.
- Cook poultry and meat to internal temperatures of 165° F or more.
- Keep hot foods hot at 135° F or more.
- Keep cold foods cold at 41° F or less, excluding in-line prep tables manufactured before 2003, which can remain at 45° F.
- Use good hand washing. Salmonella harmful organisms come from human feces or from poultry contaminated foods.
- Use wiping cloths wet with bleach water (10% bleach or more). The bleach water will kill the harmful organisms on surfaces and equipment.
Staph is a bacteria carried on the hands and face and in the nose of most healthy people. It produces a toxin that is not destroyed by cooking or freezing. The toxin is very strong and it only takes a little bit to make a person sick.
Symptoms of Staph food poisoning:
- Explosive vomiting usually 2-4 hours after eating contaminated food.
- Diarrhea follows the vomiting
- Sometimes sweats and cold, clammy skin
- Weakness, dehydration
- Usually there is no fever
- Wash hands properly, especially after touching your nose or pimples.
- Use good temperature control to keep hot foods hot (135° F or above) and cold foods cold (41° F or less). This will keep the harmful organisms from making the toxin.
- Don't nibble while preparing food. Your saliva will get from your hands to the customers' food.
- Don't smoke or use any kind of tobacco while preparing food. Your saliva will get into the food.
- Do not work if you have boils, abscesses or infected cuts.
- Mix food with sanitized spoons or spatulas, not your hands.
E.coli organisms are found in ground beef or on the surfaces of other beef products and in the feces of infected persons. Also, recent outbreaks of E. coli have been linked to fresh produce, mainly leafy green vegetables. People handling raw beef products can easily contaminate their hands, utensils, and other food with E.coli organisms. It takes very few of these harmful organisms to make people sick.
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It can be spread through food contaminated by feces after poor hand washing. A person may spread hepatitis from two weeks before they have symptoms to two weeks after. Some cases are mild and there may not be symptoms. Because people may not be aware they have hepatitis, they must always use good hand washing habits.
Symptoms of hepatitis A:
- Begin to appear 2-6 weeks after exposure to hepatitis A.
- Fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain in upper right abdomen, dark urine, light colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
- Even if there are no symptoms, hepatitis can be identified with a blood test.
- People with hepatitis A should not handle or prepare food for others.
- Good hand washing must be practiced after using the toilet, diapering children, cleaning toilets, and preparing food.
Many other harmful organisms can cause illness. Most of these illnesses can be prevented by proper hand washing and by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Following these guidelines is your responsibility to your customers.
Norovirus (formerly called Norwalk-like Virus)
This is a virus spread easily from person to person. People can become infected by eating or drinking food that has been contaminated by food handlers, or touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus. Raw oysters have also been found to be a source of Norovirus.
Symptoms of Norovirus:
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping
- Illness usually begins 24 – 48 hours after exposure, but can be as early as 10 hours after exposure. Symptoms last only 1 to 2 days, but people with Norovirus should not prepare food until 3 days after they recover.
Prevention of Norovirus:
- Infected persons should not work with food.
- Keep surfaces clean by using a sanitizing solution (10% bleach water or other approved sanitizer).
- Proper hand washing will reduce your chance of becoming infected with the virus.
Chemical Poisoning (#20)
Chemical poisoning occurs when a chemical, such as a cleaning compound or a pesticide (such as rat poison or insect spray) gets into the food. Chemical poisoning can lead to death.
Symptoms of chemical poisoning:
- Vary with the chemical.
- Usually act very quickly.
- Usually there is an 'off taste'.
- Store chemicals properly, below and away from food and food equipment.
- Label chemical containers clearly, including spray bottles.
- Use chemicals correctly
What To Do If You Or a Customer Gets Sick From Food
Notify the manager or owner of the restaurant first, then call the Environmental Health office at (979) 361-4450 and contact your physician for testing and confirmation.
You should report all food borne illness to the Health Department-those at work, at home, at church, on picnics. Someone from the Health Department will help you find out how it happened, and how to prevent it in the future.
How can you be sure that the food you work with will not cause somebody to become ill?
You can prevent illness by washing your hands often, keeping foods at the correct temperatures, and working in a safe manner. Remember that most food poisonings happen because somebody did not keep the food either hot enough or cold enough, or contaminated the food with their hands.
Where is the staph bacterium carried on the body?
Staph is found on the hands and face and in the noses of most people. Pimples are also a source of staph bacteria.
How is Hepatitis A spread?
It is spread through uncooked food after somebody has touched the food without washing their hands properly after using the bathroom. Good hand washing after using the bathroom is the best prevention against Hepatitis A.