What Is Food Safety Certification?

Food safety certification shows employers that food service professionals know how to properly handle food products. Read on to learn more about how this certification can protect consumers and workers alike. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is Food Safety?

Food safety involves the storage, preparation and handling of food with the goal of preventing foodborne illnesses. Five steps commonly followed in food safety are preventing the contamination of food, separating raw and cooked foods, cooking foods at the right temperature, storing food at the correct temperature and using safe water. Diseases can be transmitted and transferred from person to person through food. Additionally, if you leave food in unsafe conditions, bacteria can grow and later cause food poisoning when consumed. Food poisoning can cause a number of adverse reactions, but vomiting and an upset stomach is most common.

Important Facts About Food Safety Certification and Related Careers

Possible CareersFood science technician, occupational health and safety specialists, food scientists, inspectors
Continuing EducationUnited States Department of Agriculture Food Hazard Training
Degree Levels Certificate
Key SkillsInspect and evaluate food and equipment, prepare processes and procedures to follow, analyze quality of food, maintain sterile environment for food preparation and storage

Who Needs Certification?

You may be required to earn food safety certification if you are a restaurant owner, restaurant manager, chef or cook. Some states require that at least one person working in a food service establishment be certified in food safety. Food safety classes and programs might be offered by certifying bodies or by vocational schools and colleges.

Certification Requirements

There are many different types of food safety certifications, including those offered by state governments and those offered by the National Restaurant Association. The requirements for food safety certification can vary depending on your state. Typically, you need to complete a course in food safety from a legitimate credentialed organization, community college or university. Some schools offer their courses entirely online. At the end of the course and after passing an examination, you are presented with a food safety, food handler or professional food manager certification. This certification typically requires renewal every few years.

If you're certified and employed by a restaurant as a food safety handler, it is up to you to train and educate fellow workers in proper food safety procedures and codes. Government agencies and food inspectors regularly evaluate restaurants, so it is your job to ensure that the restaurant meets the necessary health codes to remain in business. Many state government agencies require restaurants to have at least one certified food safety worker on duty at all times.

Certification Topics

There are several sanitation and disease prevention topics that you must study in order to receive a food safety certification. The first is the cause of food poisoning. Molds, allergens, toxins, contaminants, viruses, parasites and bacteria can all lead to food poisoning. Some common bacteria and viruses related to food poisoning are salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus and norovirus.

During a food safety course, you'll also learn about temperature control. For example, food not yet in use has to be stored at a cold temperature to prevent it from going bad. Food also can't be kept at room temperature for long, or bacteria can start to grow. Additionally, foods must be cooked at a certain temperature in order for them to be safe to eat.

Lastly, sanitation and cleaning is an important component of food safety. Gloves should be worn when handling raw meat, and food items need to be kept separate until cooking. For example, if uncooked meat and cooked meat touch, then the cooked meat can become contaminated. You can prevent this contamination by cleaning off your boards and knives after chopping up raw chicken.

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