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.
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.
Any business which deals with food service has the critical task of keeping their food preparation areas clean. This ensures happy chefs and cooks, good hygiene standards, and above all, happy & satisfied customers served with great food. If an outlet or an organization fails to adhere to correct food safety measures, there is the likelihood of food poisoning, which may lead to health concerns for people who are consuming the food.
Clean as you go, wash hands regularly, avoid cross-contamination, maintain the right food temperature (while storing, cooking, and serving) are some of the common principles for food safety.
A business needs to follow the code set out by the state food safety department.
First, let’s concentrate on cleaning areas that can be broadly classified into three regions-
- For washing dishes/utensils/equipment & food items
The utensil cleaning area needs to have a 3-compartment sink with dual drainboards– this is essential for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing equipment. It may further be added that the sink size should be large enough to accommodate the washing of the largest equipment used in the facility. The pressure and temperature of the water, hot and cold, should be adequate.
- Personal hand-wash for staff (food handlers and kitchen staff)
- Hand washing facility to be available to all employees at common locations such as food prep area, food dispensing area near dishwasher /pot-wash area, and restrooms. Handwash sink to be used only to wash hands and should have
- a hand-wash soap
- dryer (paper towels or air-dryer)
- running water supply with adequate pressure and hot and cold water availability
- Washing utility equipment
A separate utility sink for cleaning mops, table cloths, and towels is placed far from the food preparation area.
Handling of Kitchen Tools, Utensils, and Equipment to Prevent Contamination
As per the food safety codes, the prevention of food contamination is a paramount concern. For this, it is imperative to have proper cleaning and sanitization of all contact surfaces, including utensils and equipment used for food preparation. Before reusing any equipment, ensure to wash and clean them properly. All food and equipment to be stored in a dry, clean, and moisture-free place where they are not exposed to dust or contamination. As common sense will tell us, food should not be stored near toilets, garbage rooms, or under leaky pipes, stairwells, and any other place where it could potentially be exposed to contamination. All the equipment and food surface areas should be safe, durable (non-corrosive and non-absorbent), and easy to clean. All food prep equipment such as flat-top grills and stoves should be easily movable to allow cleaning or installed to enable six-inches clearance between floor and equipment.
Food Preparation, Handling/ Processing, Packaging & Storage
The establishment’s floorings should be constructed of smooth, durable materials and to be well maintained with timely repairs if required. Areas include food prep areas such as the main kitchen, walk-in refrigerators/freezers, restrooms, staff locker areas. There should be no carpeting in any place where the floor is subject to moisture like walk-in refrigerators, ware washing areas, toilet room areas, and refuse storage room. Wall and Ceiling to have smooth surfaces. All fixtures like light, vents, and fans are easily cleanable. Food prep areas and storage areas to be well lit to avoid any accidents. Food storage spaces should be handled with proper segregation of food types to prevent cross-contamination. For instance, ready-to-cook food should not be kept together with raw foods. All raw animal foods, dairy products, cold cuts, or frozen foods should be stored separately with proper temperature controls.
Recommended: Importance of Cooling Food Correctly
Hot & Cold Holding Areas
When kept in improper holding temperatures, food products spread germs and bacterial growth, which leads to contamination. Use thermometers to keep the temperature check and ensure that cold food holding temperatures fall under 41°F. Any food that has a temperature of 42°F and above falls in a danger zone and should be disposed of safely. Similarly, for hot food, holding temperature should not be above 135°F.
Restrooms, Locker Rooms & Laundry Areas
Restroom facilities should be provided for all team members. Restroom or washroom should not open directly into a food processing area. As a general safety rule, maintain a fifteen feet distance between the toilet door and the food processing area. Other areas of importance are team member lockers; these should be used only for staff changing to their work uniform, parking area to be concrete. Laundry should be managed in clean, hygienic ways to avoid contamination. Dishwashing machines to be installed in the right way. Potable water supply to be available.
The facility should have good ventilation for the prevention of grease or condensation on walls. Good, cleanable ventilation must be in place to keep the facility free from condensation, foul odors, smoke, and fumes.
Storage of bulk food should be done in bins that are clearly labeled and can be washed. All storage bins to have a secure lid.
All floors, which require water cleaning should have covered drains. Plumbing systems should be installed in a manner that there is no backflow of water. A proper sewage system should be installed to allow smooth disposal through a public sewage system.
Restaurant kitchens should follow systematic garbage disposal following the protocols as per the food safety codes provided and include separate bins for refuse, recyclables, and returnables. Containers for food waste or residue need to be durable and be easily cleaned. Food waste bins to be resistant to insects, rodents and should be leakproof.
Hiring the right set of staff
Getting a job in a restaurant may be an easy task when you bend the rules by a bit but making the wrong kind of hire can cost you dearly when tragedy strikes in form of inspection. The state of Utah dictates that anyone working in the restaurant business and being involved in any stage of the food preparation or catering should be a certified food handler. Getting one is not a herculean task and certified institutes such as Easy Food Handlers can help you get food handlers permit by providing useful resources and guidance in the same.
Running an establishment serving food is nothing less than a battlefield during peak hours, with orders coming from all sides. Keeping your calm and ensuring that your kitchen remains clean and up to code as such crucial times requires nerves of steel but by sticking to the tips mentioned here, your work will be substantially simplified.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. While this adage may be motivating millions of people globally to take up challenges that hold them back, those working in the food industry have a different variation of it. – What makes your customers sick can attract a heavy lawsuit.
When it comes to serving food professionally, your customers trust you and the establishment to handle it correctly. They assume that the food served to them is tasty, made fresh, contains no allergic elements, and more importantly, free from any disease-causing microbes. To live up to this expectation, it is important for anyone handling food professionally to be well-acquainted and well-equipped with the knowledge of different aspects of food preparation, serving, and storing food items.
This is one of the many reasons why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the Food Code, a model set of guidelines and procedures on the basis of which food control jurisdictions can regulate restaurants, grocery stores, and institutional foodservice providers in the U.S.A.
As per the Food Code, it is important for employees to hold valid food handlers permit. In Utah specifically, it is mandatory for anyone working in an establishment dealing with food to hold valid food handlers permit issued on behalf of the Health Department of Utah. Failure to show one during an inspection can attract heavy fines on the individual, yield a low sanitation score, and possibly lead to closing down the establishment.
Importance of Food handlers permit
You may be wondering how a piece of paper can hold such importance in the food industry? The reason is as follows – To receive a food handlers card, the applicant needs to undergo training that explains the different aspects of food management at different stages. This means anyone coming in direct contact with the food in any of the following stages needs to have undergone the training:
- Production – Harvesting the food from farms or from slaughter
- Processing – Creating batches of raw food items for distribution
- Distribution – Farmer’s Market or Grocery Stores
- Storage & Transportation – Deep freeze operators
- Preparation – Restaurants or any other establishment serving food
- Serving – Waiters and bartenders
Owing to the severity of the consequences of improper food handling on the mass, selected public and private organizations are allowed to conduct the training.
The food handlers training imparts sufficient knowledge in the different aspects of food handling such as:
- Food Safety – The different ways any food can be contaminated and the preventive measures for the same
- Food Handlers Hygiene – The different practices for maintaining hygiene of the handler as well as the establishment
- Food temperature and ‘Danger Zone’ – Most pathogens and microbes can survive and multiply in a specific temperature range called ‘Danger Zone’. Learn the best practices while cooking food as well as storing any leftovers to avoid the Danger Zone.
- Different food related allergies
- Common food-borne diseases and sources of the pathogens
Since the world is progressing very quickly, new and improved methods for food handling are discovered. So, most states provide a limited validity of 3 years on every food handlers permit. Post expiration, the holder has to again undergo the training to be eligible for the permit.
The food handlers permit is a certification course wherein an individual has to undergo an exam that tests their knowledge on the basis of the topics covered in the training. Only on clearing the exam with a 75% or more score, an individual is issued food handlers permit.
What if I fail the Food Handlers Permit Test
To err is to be human. Mistakes happen and you may not pass the exam in the first try after completing the training. While many may consider it as the end of the road, it is just a temporary setback. Most training organizations such as Easy Food Handlers have similar rules regarding retaking the exam. The individual can attempt up to three times within a span of 30 days from the training completion to score more than 75% on the test.
Unfortunately, if the individual doesn’t clear the test within three attempts, they need to undergo training after which they can again sit for the test.
What if I pass the Food Handlers Permit Test
Once the individual has scored more than 75% on the 45 question test. It is an indication that they are qualified to handle food professionally based on the knowledge from the training. They can immediately print a temporary food handlers permit and start working. The institution conducting the training and test will notify the local department of health. In the area where the individual is going to work. After 30 days from passing the test, a permanent food handlers permit is sent via mail to the individual. Depending on the validity of the permit, the individual has to again undergo training when the existing permit expires.
When running a food business, food safety is critical. Since the customer trusts you with their food, it is important to uphold that trust by being capable and also hiring capable individuals. Food handlers permit is an indication of capability and is recognized everywhere. By sparing 120 mins to undergo the training and an hour for the test, you can easily become a food handler in a span of one week.
It’s a pretty common question, the answers to which aren’t readily available. While handling food professionally, rules of employment state that the candidate should be a holder of valid food handlers permit and it never mentions the need to mention it in the resume or CV. In a nutshell, yes! You should put your food handlers permit on your resume or CV. The reason for doing so lies behind comprehending the food handlers permit and what it symbolizes.
Significance of a Food Handlers Permit
Challenges of handling food professionally
Food handlers are required to work in direct contact with unpackaged food. Their duties involve activities such as preparing the food, handling food equipment. Adding sugar to the confectionery, packaging food in factories, serving the prepared food to the customers, and likewise.
Cooking food is a complex activity where you need to follow various processes & precautions. While preparing the food yourself, you are in charge of ensuring that any disease-causing microorganisms don’t enter or spread in the food, you will soon be serving. If the food isn’t properly cooked to the correct temperature. There are high chances that the microorganisms in the food can multiply quickly and contaminate the food. Anyone eating the contaminated food may develop a foodborne illness. To keep yourself and others safe. It is vital to cook certain foods at a specific temperature to kill harmful bacteria or viruses. While handling food professionally, it is vital to maintain the internal temperature above 160oF to avoid contamination. Any error could lead to an epidemic.
How food handlers permit makes a difference
Hence, it is important for those working in the food industry to undergo rigorous training that teaches them the nuances of handling food professionally. The food handler permit/card is a certificate that is awarded on training completion and is mandatory to work in the food industry. It’s applicable to employees who are engaged in the food preparations, storage, or service of food in a food establishment.
The holder has to clear an examination that analyses the knowledge about the different aspects of handling food in a professional manner. The holder has to score a minimum of 75% to gain the certificate which is provided on behalf of the state health authority. A copy of the permit is made available for the local health department where the food handler is employed in order to avoid any kind of deception.
What is covered in a Food Handlers Training?
A food handler course covers the following aspects:
- How to handle food professionally?
- How to store cooked & pre-cooked food in a safe manner?
- Understanding different allergies relevant to food.
- Understanding the significance to maintain a hygienic & contamination-free environment.
The permit denotes that the holder has availed the training and is applying the knowledge into practice, while working in a food establishment or an institute related to the food industry. The skills acquired in the course:
- Expertise in food safety: Food handlers are required to be well-versed & have some awareness about food preparation in order to contribute to large-scale food handling & preparations. Prevention of spoilage & other food contamination.
- Attention to details: Cleanliness is an essential aspect & a strenuous task during food preparation. Food handlers are expected to follow best practices of understanding cleaning sanitisation for workplace safety and cleanliness.
- Physical endurance: The food handlers must have the proficiency to lift weights and to work in a standing position, as they may need to perform repetitive tasks. Certain tasks may require high levels of stamina.
- Teamwork: Food handlers are required to work with groups of other food preparation workers, & should be able to perform team collaboration and communication, as is the ability to report issues to supervisors as and when required.
Recommended: Where Can I get a Food Handlers Permit in Utah?
Food handling rules in Utah
A permit states that a food employee has undergone a training course from an approved provider in vital aspects of handling food in a safe manner.
As per rule R392-103 of the Utah Administrative Code. All food handlers are required to obtain a permit from any recognized training provider. To note, in dynamic scenarios wherein modern techniques are discovered along with new types of germs and bacteria. It is necessary for the food handler to remain updated with current trends. Hence, there’s a limited validity of 3 years from the date the permit is issued.
How a Food Handlers Permit is revered in the food industry?
Professional certifications or permits that provide value to the field you are currently applying for. What may draw the attention of your prospective employer?. Food handlers permit included on a resume will provide evidence of your suitability for the position you are applying for, especially when it is mandatory. It’s a powerful aspect that indicates a passion for working in the industry and the attention to customers’ health & safety.
How a Food Handlers Permit opens up the door of opportunity outside the food industry?
The workplaces are transforming rapidly and the demand for new-age skills is rising steadily too. During the recruitment process, potential employers seek the answer to a single but vital question: “how much value can the individual bring to the organization?” By building the skills mentioned earlier, a food handler permit can be helpful in making your candidacy stand out in your prospective job.
As evident from the points mentioned here, adding the Food handlers permit on your resume. Not only helps you secure your position in an establishment associated with food production, preparation, storage, or handling. Even if you don’t choose to pursue a career in food handling, the training can help you see food in different ways when handling it at home.
Running a restaurant is nothing short of an adventure. From planning the day’s menu, choosing the freshest ingredients, cooking the food, having it reach the customer’s table to managing the line during the busiest period. Each team member is a small gear that keeps the bigger machine (i.e. the restaurant) running smoothly. Another layer of complexity is in doing all of the above while sticking to the food and health safety guidelines by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Failure to do so will result in operation shut down at best and a mass food-related epidemic at worst. So, if you are involved in any stage of bringing the food from the farm to the table of a customer, it is important to have a food handler’s permit. With changing technology and newer forms of microbes (e.g. COVID-19) affecting the human population, the food handlers permit is only valid for three years from the date of issuance and needs to be renewed before expiration.
You might have questions about how to renew your food handlers permit and the article achieves to do the same. Before we move towards understanding the steps to renewal, let’s first understand what a food handlers permit is and why you need one?
What is a food handler’s permit?
Food handlers permit, food handlers card, food handlers certificate call it what you want but it ends up being the same document that certifies the holder to be skilled enough to handle food professionally. Food handlers permit is only awarded when you undergo training that educates you about different precautions to take while handling food in a professional setting. At the end of the training, you need to score at least 75% in an exam related to the training. Most public bodies and private institutes run courses that award the certificate on commencement. Different states have different rules regarding but as per the state rules of Utah, it is important for all the staff to have the permit whether coming in direct or indirect contact with the food.
Recommended: What is a Food Handler’s Permit?
Why do you need one?
The main reason why you should get food handlers to permit is that it is mandated for anyone in the food industry to hold food handlers permit as it symbolizes that the person has undergone the necessary training and is aware of the different precautions to take for ensuring food safety and security. The other reasons include:
Looks good on a resume
While applying for a job in the food business, highlighting the certification will ensure that the recruiter is aware of your food handling qualifications. Having a food handlers permit makes the holder not a liability for the institution. This means they don’t need to go through the pains of teaching it again while training you.
You become more responsible for food
When you learn to handle food professionally, it seeps into your habit while doing the same elsewhere. You begin to become observant of the different wrong practices you may have picked up while preparing food earlier. You take extra care during food preparation and storage to ensure the internal temperature of food is above the danger zone.
All it takes is a day’s worth of time
To be certified as a food handlers permit holder, all you need to do is enroll in the classes, watch the pre-recorded videos of 75 minutes divided into 4 sections, and clear the exam within 30 days of viewing the lectures. On passing with 75% or better, you can print the temporary permit, which is valid for 30 days. You shall receive your permanent permit within 30 days of your test passing. In a nutshell, by sparing a day’s worth of time, you can clear your way in working in the food industry.
How do I renew my food handlers permit?
Before your existing food handlers permit expires, it is important to renew and the process is similar to applying for a new permit. The candidate needs to again undergo training by watching the video lectures and attempting to clear the exams with a 75% or better score. On completion, you shall again download a temporary permit and receive a permanent permit via U.S. Mail after 30 days.
Any food handlers permit, whether new or renewed, is considered by the state authorities to be capable enough to handle food professionally. By sticking true to what you learned, you can rest assured that the food you serve to the customer is free from any contamination or pathogens.
More than 1,300 people have suffered suspected food poisoning in the Mexican state of Veracruz https://www.oecd.org/education/imhe/46827070.pdf after eating cake.
The Veracruz government reported that 1,358 people were treated in eight hospitals and clinics. People ate the cake, described as being in “poor condition” as part of a celebration of Children’s Day, https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/mexico/children-day which is marked every April 30 in Mexico.
The Ministry of Health of Veracruz https://www.devex.com/organizations/ministry-of-health-mexico-52587 posted a statement on Facebook confirming medical attention was given to intoxicated adults, infants and three pregnant women.
According to a health agency in Veracruz (SESVER), ingestion of contaminated food happened during an event organized by a non-governmental organization that distributed tamales, cake and beverages. A tamale https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamale is made with ground meat packed in dough, wrapped in corn husks, and steamed.
The non-governmental organization World Vision Mexico https://worldvisionmexico.org.mx/ issued a statement saying food for the event was provided by different organizations and it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the illnesses.
Between two and four hours after the event, infants had abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Initial evaluations did not find severe cases or deaths but emergency care continues and more patients are expected due to any incubation period.
In Tehuipango, Tlaquilpa, Zongolica and Río Blanco additional clinics were set up and children have been treated at the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/progdesc/ssptw/2016-2017/americas/mexico.html.
Tests on food samples are being conducted by another agency to find the origin of the poisoning and results are expected in the next few days.
Another food poisoning in Guerrero
Meanwhile in another incident, about 200 people, mostly children, suffered food poisoning in the Mexican state of Guerrero https://www.britannica.com/place/Guerrero.
The source is suspected to be pozole https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pozole – a type of stew or soup – which was consumed in celebration of Children’s Day. The incident happened in Mezcalcingo, a town in Chilapa.
Of those sick, 60 were initially reported as seriously ill but the secretary of health, Carlos de la Peña Pintos, later reported that infants who ate food in poor condition were out of danger and stable.
A total of 108 people were taken to Hueycantenango, a city in José Joaquín de Herrera for treatment. The governor, Hector Astudillo Flores, said the navy https://www.navy.mil/, Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/, and emergency response teams were involved.
Officials are investigating an outbreak of Hepatitis A https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborne-pathogens/bad-bug-book-second-edition
in Sweden related to dates from Iran that are suspected to be the source of the infections.
The Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten), https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/
and National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/en
the relevant infectious disease units and municipalities are investigating to identify the source of infections.
Officials from Folkhälsomyndigheten and Livsmedelsverket told Food Safety News https://www.foodsafetynews.com
that hepatitis A cases are reported to the national database. At that point the suspected source of infection is often unknown.
“We observed an increase of domestically acquired hepatitis A virus infections with genotype IIIA strains, a genotype which we usually associate with travel-related cases in Sweden,” they said.
Since the end of February, nine cases of the viral infection have been linked to the outbreak, with the last one reported on April 16. Eight of the patients are confirmed and have the same type of hepatitis A infections from the genotype IIIA, which is also known as 3A. The ninth patient’s infection is suspected to be the same.
Patients are between the ages of 28 and 73. Five are men and four are women. They are from seven counties: Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala, Skåne, Södermanland, Kalmar, and Halland.
The investigation has not yet identified one brand of dates or a joint producer.
“The cases (patients) reported consumption of dates https://www.foodsafetynews.com/tag/hepatitis-a-outbreak/
of different brands from different suppliers on the Swedish market but all dates are from Iran. Cases have bought dates from different supermarkets. The regional departments of communicable disease control are interviewing the cases. The dates have a long shelf life so it´s still too early to say that the outbreak is over.”
Outbreak in Denmark last year
In eight confirmed outbreak patients in 2018, four different strains from genotype IIIA were detected. Two of the Swedish patients have similar virus strains to those found in an outbreak in Denmark in 2018 linked to dates from Iran.
In the Danish outbreak, 27 people fell ill from December 2017 to February 2018, with 22 admitted to hospitals. Dates from Iran were imported by RM Import A/S and sold in Rema1000. Norway also reported one case as part of the outbreak.
In the 2018 outbreak, several variants of genotype IIIA strains were detected in patients. One of the outbreak strains was also detected in dates.
Recommended: How Do I Renew My Food Handlers Permit?
Folkhälsomyndigheten and Livsmedelsverket reported there are no ISO methods for detection of Hepatitis A on dates.
“The National Food Agency has used a similar method as Denmark used last year when they were able to detect hepatitis A virus in dates. After steps of elution with wash buffer and concentration of the virus, molecular analyses with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is used to detect the virus. So far no viruses have been found in the different samples of dates but further analyses are ongoing,” according to agency officials.
Representatives from the agencies confirmed they had shared information on the outbreak strains with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but no other countries had seen them so far this year.
Additional consumer information on hepatitis A https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/outbreaks/hepatitisaoutbreaks.htm
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness, including liver failure. It can take up to 50 days for symptoms to appear. Some infected people don’t develop symptoms at all, but they are contagious and can easily contaminate foods and beverages they prepare or otherwise handle.
The hepatitis A virus (HAV) can also be transmitted through direct contact with an infectious person.
The incubation period is usually 14 to 28 days. Symptoms include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, and jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Recovery following infection may be slow and take several weeks or months. For more contact food handlers permit process.
Place chicken in a disposable bag before putting in your shopping cart or refrigerator to prevent raw juices from getting onto other foods.
Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling chicken. https://www.cdc.gov/features/SalmonellaChicken/index.html
Do not wash raw chicken. During washing, chicken juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.
Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken.
Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surfaces that previously held raw chicken. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/keep-food-safe.html
Recommended: 1,300 hit by food poisoning in Mexico
Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing chicken and before you prepare the next item.
Ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
If cooking frozen raw chicken in a microwavable meal, handle it as you would fresh raw chicken. Follow cooking directions carefully to prevent food poisoning.
If you think the chicken you are served at a restaurant or anywhere else is not fully cooked, send it back for more cooking.
Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if the temperature outside is higher than 90°F). https://www.fda.gov/media/110822/download
ttps://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/carrau-04-19/index.htmlCDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Carrau infections linked to pre-cut melons supplied by Caito Foods LLC.
At A Glance:
Do not eat, serve, or sell recalled pre-cut melon and fruit medley products produced by Caito Foods LLC and sold under several brands and labels.
On April 12, 2019, Caito Foods LLC
Recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and pre-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons supplied at the Caito Foods LLC facility in Indianapolis, Ind.
Recalled pre-cut melons were packaged in clear, plastic clamshell containers. The products were distributed in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
These products were sold at Kroger under the Renaissance Food Group label and the Boar’s Head private label; at Target under the Garden Highway Label; at Trader Joe’s under the Trader Joe’s label; at Walmart under a Freshness Guaranteed label; and at Amazon/Whole Foods under the Whole Foods Market label.
Check FDA’s website for a full list of where recalled products were sold. If you cannot determine if any pre-cut melon you purchased was produced by Caito Foods LLC, don’t eat it and throw it away.
Contact a healthcare provider if you think you got sick from consuming pre-cut melon.
- Most people infected with Salmonella develop the following signs and symptoms 12 to 72 hours after eating a contaminated product:
- Abdominal cramps
Recommended: CDC Says – Do Not Wash Your Chicken
The Correct Way to Wash Your Hands
Latest Outbreak Information
- A total of 117 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Carrau have been reported from 10 states.
- Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 4, 2019 to April 8, 2019.
- 32 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
- Most of the ill people are adults over the age of 50 years.
- Epidemiologic and traceback evidence https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/investigating-outbreaks/index.html indicates that pre-cut melons supplied by Caito Foods LLC is the likely source of this outbreak.
- On April 12, 2019, Caito Foods LLC recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and pre-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons produced at the Caito Foods LLC facility in Indianapolis, Ind.
- This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
Investigation of the Outbreak
Epidemiologic and traceback evidence https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/investigating-outbreaks/index.html indicate that pre-cut melon supplied by Caito Foods LLC of Indianapolis, Ind. is the likely source of this multistate outbreak.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other Exposures https://www.cdc.gov/features/solvingoutbreaks/index.htmlin the week before they became ill. Forty-six (73%) of 63 people interviewed reported eating pre-cut melons purchased at grocery stores, including pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, or a fruit salad mix or fruit tray with melon. Five additional people reported eating pre-cut melon outside the home.
Information collected from stores where ill people shopped indicates that Caito Foods LLC supplied pre-cut melon to these stores. On April 12, 2019, Caito Foods, Inc. recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and pre-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons produced at the Caito Foods LLC facility in Indianapolis, Ind.
This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.