Food apart from clothing and housing is one of the basic human needs. Our bodies need food to function properly. The food provides nutrients to the body to grow, develop, and survive. Food preparation involves procuring food in its natural & native form and cooking it to enhance its flavors. It is very important to prepare food in the right way as food can become a feeding ground or, as some say, a playing ground for microbes to grow and spoil it when handled incorrectly. If the right measures are not taken, when handling preparing, cooking, or storing the food, it can lead to food spoilage or poisoning, and most of the time, the spoilage is not visible to the naked eye. This food, when consumed, can be harmful to the body, causing food-borne illness and diseases.
With various lifestyle factors, eating out has become an eternal part of everyone’s life. Most customers would visit a restaurant by trusting the food prepared, and as a responsible food business owner, it is essential that the food served to customers is prepared properly. Food business practice owners and operators must follow best food production and hygiene practices to prevent food-borne illnesses. The spoilage can occur at any stage, right from the point of procurement to the point it is served to the customer.
General rules for pre – Food Preparation
During food procurement, the different ingredients are handled by many people, right from vendors selling the raw food items to the one at the commercial kitchen who cooks the food. This makes the raw material subject to many germs that can cause allergies and stomach issues to those who are consuming it. This is why it’s important to scrutinize the received food item. If found in rot or spoiled form, visibly discolored, the receiving department should not accept them. Common indicators of food spoilage would be:
- Vegetables not feeling firm
- Cheese showing different color hue
- Meat product having a strong off smell and odors.
Washing Foods and Hand
Once food products reach the kitchen for preparation, food handlers must ensure that they wash their hands before touching the food. Washing and drying hands thoroughly is an essential food preparation protocol to get rid of germs and invisible viruses that are unsafe for health. It is also important to wash the hands after touching the raw materials. Additionally, kitchen surfaces, chopping boards, knives, and any other cooking equipment or clothes that may come in contact with the food directly or indirectly are also clean. Both personal hygiene and kitchen hygiene are of utmost importance for the proper preparation of the food.
Ensure food products are cleaned and washed well to remove dust, bacteria, pesticide remains, and chemicals. To prevent any kind of cross-contamination, wash and store poultry products separately. Meats, seafood, and dairy products, all fruits and veggies are prone to contamination due to viruses and toxins, which can cause food-borne allergies.
Again as a basic rule, never store fresh produce with farm produce or seafood. Use separate utensils and other kitchen equipment to prevent cross-contamination.
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Cooking Temperatures & Storage
It is essential to keep meat products, dairy, seafood, and vegetables all in separate storage sections to prevent cross-contamination. Cold storage and deep freezers, walk-in chillers should have the right temperature. Cooking should be carried in the right temperatures with hot food to be served hot and cold food to be served cold.
Also, storage temperatures should be kept in mind while storing the food items. Food items should have appropriate labels clearly showing the receipt date and must be stored in temperature-controlled environments. The requisite staff must have complete knowledge. This will prevent the growth and spread of harmful bacteria which cause food poisoning. When food is not stored at the correct temperature, it leads to the growth and spread of bacteria which in turn cause stomach infections and food poisonings. To lower the risks of food poisoning and food allergies. It is important that food is prepared and stored according to their respective temperatures.
Cross-contamination occurs when the bacteria or germs pass from one food onto another. Cross-contamination mainly occurs when the raw foods are not separated properly. To prevent cross-contamination, separate chopping boards, slicers, knives, and cooking utensils should be in place for the different food types. Never mix raw and uncooked food with cooked or ready-to-eat food. Also, all the packaging materials should be thrown right after the meat or fish products are taken out. As a standard rule, no packaging material should be reused as this can cause cross-contamination and cause food spoilage.
Avoid Food-Borne Illness
If the food is not properly prepared, it leads to cross-contamination and food-borne illnesses. To prevent food-borne illness, it is imperative that the chef and the assisting team members use sterilized utensils or those cleaned using correct cleaning solutions. Sanitization of utensils with boiled water or a chlorine-based solution should be a regular practice in cooking areas. A proper cleaning routine should be carried out to keep the crawling and flying insects at bay to prevent food contamination.
It is imperative that at every stage of food preparation, hygiene rules are followed to eliminate cross-contamination. Right from the stage of procurement, ensure that each food type is placed separately, stored in separate walk-in freezers. Or refrigerators based on their temperatures and prepared in different utensils. These basic principles will ensure that the food is prepared correctly and served well to the clients. Also, you can join the Utah food certification course Where you get to learn every stage of food preparation.
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.
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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.