Food Safety Certification Training Can Ensure A Happy Ending

Posted: March 22, 2011

Black and Gold Snacks and More owner Linda Lewandowski knew someone in her Mount Pleasant Township store was obliged to take a class on food safety practices.

     Part of Linda's establishment contains a deli where she serves sandwiches, assorted salads, and other prepared foods, and the state Department of Agriculture (PDA) requires each licensed food establishment to have a designated ‘person-in-charge’—available during hours of operation—who holds a Food Safety Manager Certification from an approved entity.     
      Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  estimate in the United States there are 48 million annual cases of food-borne illness that result in 3,000 deaths. The majority of these food-borne illnesses are caused by poor food-handling practices, including time-temperature abuse, cross contamination and poor personal hygiene.
      Although she has employees, Linda decided to sign up for the ServSafe class herself when it was offered at Donohoe Center in late January by Barb Kappel, Westmoreland Extension Food Safety Program Aide. Required or not, the class was "very, very informative," Linda says. "We learned how to store and keep food, the dangers of storing food at the wrong temperatures, and sanitizing prep areas. I'm now even more aware of how to keep food safe before serving it to customers."
      "Penn State Extension is involved more from the standpoint of providing food safety education to food handlers, rather than meeting the PDA requirements," says Dori Campbell, Extension Educator. "But meeting the regulations is built into our course content. Participants who complete our course and pass the exam with a score of 75% or higher will receive an official certificate which meets this requirement for food safety certification. Certificates are valid for five years and are renewed through passing the certification exam."