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.