Food is one of the basic requirements of man. As per the famous adage, “feed a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Those working in the food industry manage to do both. They feed their family by preparing a meal for their customers. As long as the customers like the food, they will continue to give repeat business. Yet, running a successful food business comes with its own set of challenges. Since the customers trust you with their food, it is essential to uphold the trust by taking all precautions and serving contamination-free and safe-to-eat food that has been cooked properly to the correct internal temperature.
To ensure proper implementation, most state health departments have in place specific directives that require restaurant owners only to hire qualified employees. One of the qualifications that allow you to start working immediately is a Food handler’s certification. It acknowledges the holder of the certificate to be trained in different aspects of food handling. Right from the procurement of raw materials to catering the prepared food to the customers. As per Rule R392-103 of the Utah Administrative Code, anyone working in an establishment involved in food handling at any stage. Of its preparation directly or indirectly should obtain a valid food handler permit from an approved training provider or Food Education Center.
Thankfully, becoming qualified doesn’t require you to go to great lengths or face hardships, and it can be done in one week’s time approximately. However, before learning where you can apply for a permit. let’s understand what you will learn by undergoing a food handler’s training and other benefits of holding a food handler’s permit.
What will you learn from food handlers classes?
Different Foodborne Illnesses & Food Allergies
The food can be a complex symphony of chemistry and gastronomy. As a result, it is very easy to go wrong when it comes to food preparation and handling. So, someone in charge of handling food needs to be educated about the different hazards while handling food. The basics of different food-borne illnesses, along with the prime suspects (pathogens or chemical imbalance), is one of the basic topics covered in food handler’s training.
Allergens are another issue when it comes to food preparations. Different people develop allergic reactions to certain food items when coming in physical contact or ingesting them. The allergic reactions can be as mild as rashes or hives on skin to as severe as inflammation in the food pipe and asphyxiation. So, a breakdown of the different allergic food items com & mon signs of allergic reactions is provided to those attending the class.
One of the primary causes of foodborne illnesses is unhygienic practices such as improper food handling. Most health officials consider it an offense severe enough to close down a restaurant. So, the next thing someone taking the classes learns about is the proper handwashing and surrounding sanitization protocols to follow when working in a restaurant. Discussing the ‘to-do’s and ‘never-do’s when it comes to employee hygiene, equipment cleaning, keeping the kitchen & washing area clean is how you can sensitize people about sticking to cleanliness when working at a restaurant.
Additional precautions such as wearing gloves and hairnets (or touche Blanche, i.e., white hat) and how frequently one should wash their hands and in which situations before touching food is an important point covered in the class.
Recommendation: Foodborne Illnesses: How they happen & tips on how to prevent them
Most people mistake that once the food is prepared, nothing can go wrong from thereon. However, temperature plays an essential role in food chemistry, and the internal temperatures of specific food preparations are crucial. Any pathogens that contaminate the food thrive and multiply in a temperature range of 41 °F and 135 °F. So it is important to be careful about moving the food quickly through this temperature range. This is vital when thawing cooked food or keeping the prepared food in the holding area before refrigeration. The training attendees are informed about the final cooking temperatures of different cooked food items. The storage temperature for each food item (raw and prepared), and different things to keep in mind when thawing, cooling, or reheating prepared food.
Cross-contamination is another most common cause for most restaurants being closed by health officials. Failure to keep raw ingredients separate from cooked items or not practicing safe food preparation. And storage methods allows pathogens to transfer from one source to another and causes the food to be contaminated. Keeping unwashed and soiled plates open or near clean plates will attract pests, and everyone knows that pests are the #1 carriers of disease-causing pathogens. Attendants of food handling training classes are taught about cross-contaminations, everyday situations where cross-contamination is prone to occur, safe equipment & utensils cleaning, and the importance of storing different food items separately.
Benefits of a Food Handlers permit
As we mentioned earlier, the Utah Administrative Code mandates the employees of a restaurant. Or any other establishments serving food to be a holder of valid food handlers permit. To avail it, the individual needs to complete the above-mentioned food handlers training. And pass an exam related to it with at least 75% to be qualified. In addition to being eligible to work in a restaurant immediately, having a Utah food handler’s permit has other benefits as well.
- Food Safety: After course completion, you’ll start seeing food from a different perspective and be more responsible about it.
- Improve hygiene standards: Learning about the different ways our hands become contaminated will make you more hygiene-conscious (not germaphobe)
- Be more prepared: Learning about the various allergens and the reactions to each helps you become more prepared to tackle critical situations where someone has an allergic reaction.
With new pathogens and food-related techniques being discovered, the duration of a food handler’s permit validity is a maximum of 3 years. So, by periodically attending the course and renewing your permit, you remain up-to-date with all the food handling best practices.
Where to apply for a Utah Food Handlers Permit?
While most named restaurants and institutes run specialized academies. where you can undergo the food handling course and appear for the qualification examination. With the ongoing pandemic, undertaking a food handler course can be done from the comforts of your house. Certified training institutes such as Easy Food Handlers conduct online training sessions. Industry-leading experts provide all the information related to working in a restaurant and provide helpful tips in the form of a 75min instructional video. You can watch the video in multiple sessions and, once completed, appear for the exam within a week of course completion. On failing on the first attempt, you can appear two more times. On successfully passing, you can print the temporary food handlers permit and start working immediately. The folks at Easy Food Handlers manage all the registration and application for the permanent food handlers permit. At the local state authority, and it will be mailed to you within 30 days of passing the course.
Irrespective of how you opt for availing your food handlers permit, make sure that you get it from a state-recognized institute. As mentioned earlier, Easy Food Handlers can be pivotal for getting your food handlers permit effortlessly, and they are a State of Utah Department of Health approved certification provider.