1. Introduction to Food Safety

Terms to understand

Person in Charge
Anyone who is responsible for the operation and has food safety certification
Adulterated Food
Food that is generally impure, unsafe, or unwholesome.
Microorganisn
Small living organism that can be seen only with a microscope
Pathogen
A harmful microorganism
Toxin
A poison
Contaminant
Substance added to food intentionally or unintentionally that makes food unfit for human consumption
Cross-contamination
The transfer of pathogens or harmful contaminants from one food or surface to another
Cross-contact
The transfer of allergens from one food or surface to another
TCS
Food that requires Time and Temperature Control for Safety
Time/Temperature Abuse
Allowing food to remain at temperatures favorable to the growth of harmful pathogens
Temperature Danger Zone
41°F (5°C)135°F (57°C.).
Foodborne Illness
A disease disease transmitted to people through food
Food Handler
Anyone working with unpackaged food, food equipment and utensils, or food contact surfaces

What A Foodborne Illnesses Is

The CDC estimates there are 48 million foodborne illnesses each year in the U.S. resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and about 3,000 deaths. Foodborne illnesses also bring a negative impact to the establishment that caused the illness, along with the potential cost of lawsuits and insurance coverage. It can also result in a loss of sales due to negative media attention. Although it may require extra time, effort, and cost, adopting a food safety culture will prevent more costly consequences.

A foodborne illness is a disease that results from the consumption of food or beverages contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms, chemicals, or other harmful substances.

A foodborne illness outbreak occurs when:

  1. Two or more people
  2. Eating in the same establishment
  3. Having the same symptoms
  4. After eating the same or similar food

Individuals become ill in one of two ways:

  1. By eating a food that contains a living disease-causing pathogen, or
    • Foodborne infections may have a delayed onset time
  2. By eating a food that contains a harmful chemical or toxin (poison).

Acute foodborne illnesses may lead to chronic disorders, including reactive arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome, high blood pressure, kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease.

Person in Charge

The person-in-charge (PIC) is an individual present at the food establishment who is responsible for the operation. A manager, supervisor, or employee with food safety certification can be the PIC and must demonstrate knowledge of foodborne illness prevention. They must ensure that:

  • The food establishment is approved to serve and sell food.
  • Unnecessary people are not allowed in food preparation, storage, or cleaning areas.
  • Employees comply with regulatory requirements.
  • Employees wash their hands correctly.
  • Products are inspected properly upon receiving.
  • Employees cook and cool foods properly.
  • Employees clean and sanitize equipment safely.
  • Employees prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods by using suitable utensils.
  • Employees are trained on food safety, food allergy awareness, food defense, and HACCP.
  • Food employees and conditional employees are aware of their responsibility to report health illnesses.
  • Consumers are warned of the risk when ordering raw or undercooked foods.
  • Consumers use clean tableware when returning to self-service areas.

Active Managerial Control

Active managerial control is a proactive approach for controlling the five common risk factors to food safety as outlined by the CDC. A food safety management system is a set of standard operating procedures (SOP) used to prevent foodborne illness. Active managerial control involves planning ahead for risks. The PIC is the person at a food service operation than manages operations and is authorized to take action to ensure food safety. Employees only need to be trained in food safety as it applies to their specific duties.

  • 1. Purchasing food from unsafe sources
  • 2. Failing to cook food adequately
  • 3. Holding food at incorrect temperatures
  • 4. Using contaminated equipment
  • 5. Practicing poor personal hygiene

When food is being prepared, the presence of one or more of these risk factors dramatically increases the risk of a foodborne illness outbreak. If one of these risk factors is observed in a retail food facility, it constitutes a major violation and must be immediately corrected. Often the correction involves the destruction of food products to minimize the risk of foodborne illness to the public.

The 5 Common Risk Factors

1. Purchasing Food From Unsafe Sources:

Food from unsafe sources image

Food must be obtained from an approved source. An approved source is one that has been inspected by a regulatory authority such as the FDA or the USDA or the state counterpart to those authorities.

When receiving food, check it to make sure that it is being received at the proper temperatures, that it is not infested with any kind of vermin, and that it has not been adulterated in any way. If the food has been temperature abused, is infested, or has been adulterated, do not accept the delivery. Since it can be difficult to tell if fresh produce has been contaminated prior to delivery, ensure that it is always washed prior to being cut, cooked, prepared, served.

2. Failing to Cook Food Adequately

cooking temperature icon

Cooking food to the proper temperatures is extremely important because many raw types of meat have pathogenic bacteria on them naturally, such as salmonella on raw chicken. Cooking is the only food preparation step that will actually kill bacteria. Proper holding temperatures slow down reproduction, freezing food makes bacteria go dormant, but proper cooking temperatures will kill bacteria that are in the food. When cooking foods, ensure that the proper temperature is reached by using an accurate probe thermometer to measure the center of the food. Once the proper cooking temperature has been achieved, ensure that the food remains at or above that temperature for at least 15 seconds to make sure that most if not all of the bacteria are eliminated.

Cook the following foods to the listed minimum internal temperatures

Type of Food Minimum Internal Temperature
Fruits, Vegetables, Plain Pasta 135°F.  (57°C.)
Seafood 145°F.  (63°C.)
Whole cuts of meat 145°F.  (63°C.)
Ground Meat and Seafood 155°F.  (68°C.)
Poultry 165°F.  (74°C.)

3. Holding Food at Improper Temperatures

The purpose of holding TCS foods at proper temperatures is to minimize the growth of any pathogenic bacteria that may be present in the food. The number of bacteria that a person ingests with their food has a direct impact on a possible illness. A small number of disease-causing bacteria may cause a mild illness or possibly no illness at all. However, a large number of the same bacteria may cause a very severe illness. Holding TCS foods at improper temperatures may allow pathogenic bacteria to reproduce rapidly and progressively to great numbers, thus putting someone who eats that food at great risk for foodborne illness.

Cold Food

Cooling Icon
TCS foods that are going to be held at cold temperatures (i.e. refrigerated) must be held at a temperature of 41°F (5°C) or below. Examples of cold holding methods include walk-in coolers, prep coolers, cold top tables, holding foods on ice, refrigerated displays, and the use of refrigerated trucks. It is important that the temperature of the food itself be 41°F or below at all times. Foods in a cooler that read 40°F in the morning before the facility opens may be well above 41°F during a lunch rush with the cooler door constantly opening and closing.

Hot Food

Hot Holding Icon
TCS foods that are going to be held at hot temperatures must be held at a temperature of 135°F or above. Examples of hot holding methods include steam tables, crock pots, heat lamps, double boilers, and hot holding cases/cabinets.

The temperature range between 41°F and 135°F is called the temperature danger zone. Food facility operators must take every precaution to minimize the amount of time that TCS foods spend in the danger zone. The maximum amount of time TCS foods can remain in the temperature danger zone cannot be 4 hours or more.

4. Using Contaminated Equipment

contaminated equipment logo

When utensils or equipment become dirty or contaminated, they can transfer that contamination to the food causing a foodborne illness. This may occur in a number of different ways. If utensils or equipment are not cleaned frequently, and old food residue is allowed to build up at room temperature, bacteria in the residue may multiply rapidly and contaminate any food that comes into contact with it. In order to prevent this from happening, utensils, food preparation equipment, and food contact surfaces should be washed, rinsed, and sanitized at least once every 4 hours. This can be done manually in a 3-compartment sink, in a mechanical dish machine, or through a clean-in-place procedure for large pieces of equipment.

5. Practicing Poor Personal Hygiene

Poor Personal Hygiene Logo

It is imperative that food workers are in good health while preparing food. A food worker that has been diagnosed with an acute gastrointestinal illness (GI), or is showing symptoms such as diarrhea, or vomiting in conjunction with diarrhea, could potentially contaminate food. It is possible for a food worker to transfer their illness to customers via the food. Even more disconcerting, there is the potential for employees working with large batches of food to spread the illness to numerous people causing an outbreak.

The Flow of Food

The flow of food is the path that foods take from the time of purchase until the food is served or sold to the customer. Avoid time temperature and cross-contamination throughout the flow of food. Time/temperature abuse is when food remains at an unsafe temperature for too long. Cross-contamination occurs when pathogens transfer from one food surface to another.

Flow of Food Diagram

Time/temperature abuse and cross-contamination must be prevented in each of the steps in the flow of food

Managing temperature control of food to prevent abuse will include ensuring that:

  • Food is held or stored at the correct temperature
  • Food is cooked or reheated properly
  • Food is cooled correctly
  • Thermometers are available and used to correctly and regularly check food and storage temperatures
  • Temperatures are recorded when taken

Managing food handling to prevent cross-contamination will require that:

  • Ready-to-eat foods do not come in contact with other foods with pathogen contaminates.
  • Have raw animal foods prepared at different times.
  • Purchased prepared raw foods.
  • Contaminated surfaces do not contact ready-to-eat food.
  • Use dedicated equipment for certain types of food.
  • Clean and sanitize after each task
  • Food handlers do not touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands
  • Use separate equipment and utensils
  • Raw animal foods of different species do not contact each other
  • Use separate equipment
  • Clean and sanitize equipment between uses
  • Use proper storage practices
  • Prepare at different times

Symptoms of a Foodborne Illness

The symptoms of a foodborne illness include: (these are symptoms; not diseases unto themselves)

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

The onset time for a foodborne illness may vary. Some individuals will become ill within minutes while others may become ill in six weeks. Others may be contaminated with the pathogen and not become ill but may pass the pathogen on to others. They are called carriers.

Populations at High Risk

Most of us know that eating foods such as oysters in the half shell or that red center hamburger might be a little risky. But many of us are willing to put it on the line for the sake of flavor, living on the edge, or whatever strikes you. But for some groups of people, the risk is much higher. These groups fall into the category of “highly susceptible populations”. This includes:

1. Infants and Pre-school Children:

Infant photo

Infants and pre-school age children are more at risk for foodborne illness because their immune systems are still developing

2.Older Adults:

Older adult Photo

As people age, their immune system and other organs become sluggish in recognizing and ridding the body of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infections, such as foodborne illness. Many older adults have also been diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or cardiovascular disease, and are taking at least one medication. The chronic disease process and/or the side effects of some medications may also weaken the immune system. In addition, stomach acid decreases as people get older, and stomach acid plays an important role in reducing the number of bacteria in the intestinal tract – and the risk of illness.

3. People with Compromised Immune Systems:

Hospital patient photo

The immune system is the body’s natural reaction or response to “foreign invasion.” In healthy people, a properly functioning immune system readily fights off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infection. However, the immune systems of transplant patients and people with certain illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, are often weakened from the disease process and/or the side effects of some treatments, making them susceptible to many types of infections — like those that can be brought on by harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. In addition, diabetes may lead to a slowing of the rate at which food passes through the stomach and intestines, allowing harmful foodborne pathogens an opportunity to multiply.

  • People with HIV/Aids
  • People undergoing chemotherapy
  • People who have undergone organ transplants
  • Certain medications can also weaken the immune system
These groups of people may have a harder time-fighting illness resulting from consumption of raw or undercooked foods, because their immune systems are not fully developed (in the case of children), or are not functioning at an optimum level (as in those with a chronic illness or in older adults). This means that an individual who gets sick as a result of eating contaminated foods may experience a longer duration and severity of illness, permanent organ damage, and even death.

As of 2019, pregnant women have been removed from the High-Risk Population category

Cost of a Foodborne Illness

Loss of sales icon Loss of Sales
Increased Insurance Premiums logo Increased Insurance Premiums
Lawsuits and Legal Fees logo Lawsuits and Legal Fees
Loss of Reputation logo Loss of Reputation
Lower staff morale icon Lower Staff Morale
staff missing work icon Staff Missing Work
staff retrainting icon Need for Retraining

TCS Foods

A leading cause of foodborne illness is time and temperature abuse of TCS (food requiring time and temperature control for safety) foods. TCS foods are time and temperature abused any time they’re in the temperature danger zone, 41°F (5°C) to 135°F (57°C.). This occurs when food is: not cooked to the recommended minimum internal temperature, not held at the proper temperature, or not cooled or reheated properly.

The longer food is in the temperature danger zone, the more time pathogens have to grow. The goal is to reduce the amount of time TCS food spends in the temperature danger zone. If food is held in this range for four or more hours, you must throw it out. It’s better to check temps every two hours and take corrective action when needed.

Examples of TCS Foods

Milk and Milk Products image
Milk & milk products
Eggs
Eggs
Meat Image
Meat
raw poultry image
Poultry
Fish Image

Fish

Shellfish and Crustaceans image
Shellfish & Crustaceans
Heat-treated plant food image
Heat-treated plant food
Raw sprouts and sprouts seeds image
Raw sprouts & sprout seeds
Cooked Rice image
Cooked rice
Sliced melon image
Sliced melons
Cut tomato image
Cut tomatoes
Untreated oil and garlic mixtures image
Untreated oil & garlic mixtures
cut leafy greens image
Cut leafy greens
Baked Potato Image
Baked potato

Ready-to-Eat Food (RTE)

Ready-to-eat food (RTE) is food that can be eaten without any further washing, cooking, or preparation. Examples include, but not limited to:

  • Cooked food
  • Washed fruits and vegetables
  • Bakery items
  • Sugar, spices, and seasonings

Types of Contamination

People become ill in one of two ways:

  • Infection -by eating food that contains a living harmful microorganism
  • Intoxication – by eating food that contains a harmful chemical or toxin

In this course we will address three kinds of contaminants that impact food safety:

  • 1. Biological
  • 2. Chemical
  • 3. Physical

1. Biological Contaminants

Biological Contaminants can be divided into four categories:

bacteria image
Bacteria
Virus image
Virus
fungi image
Fungi
parasites image
Parasites

2. Chemical Contaminants

Chemical contaminants include:

  • Detergents
  • Pesticides
  • Polishes
  • Lubricants
  • Toxic Metals
  • Allergens

Chemicals can move through air, soil, and water. They can also be on plants or animals and can get into the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink.

The different ways a person can come into contact with hazardous chemicals are called exposure pathways. There are three basic exposure pathways: inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. Inhalation is breathing or inhaling into the lungs. Ingestion is taking something in by mouth. Skin contact occurs when something comes in direct contact with the skin. Ingestion can be a secondary exposure pathway after skin contact has occurred if you put your hands in your mouth and transfer the chemical from your hands to your mouth.

Some common ways a person may be exposed to hazardous chemicals include:

Water. Exposure can occur when people drink contaminated groundwater or surface water, or accidentally ingest it while swimming or showering. Direct skin contact also is an exposure pathway that occurs during activities like swimming and showering.

Soil, Sediment, or Dust. People can be exposed to hazardous chemicals in soil, sediment, or dust if they accidentally ingest it, breathe it in, or have direct skin contact. Children are highly susceptible to these exposure pathways. In their daily activities, children have a tendency to have frequent hand-to-mouth contact and introduce non-food items into their mouths.

Air. Exposure can occur when people breathe in hazardous chemical vapors or air that is contaminated by hazardous chemicals or dust.

Food. People can be exposed to hazardous chemicals through the food they eat. Food contamination can occur if the food has come into contact with hazardous chemicals. It can also occur further down the food chain such as through eating contaminated fish.

Toxic Metals

Toxic metals can also be in a food service environment and can be found in the following:

Source Pewter Pitcher Copper saucepan image Galvanized Pail image
Item Pewter Pitcher Copper Saucepan Galvanized Pail
Toxic Metal Lead Copper Zinc

3. Physical Contaminants

  • Metal shavings from cans
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Jewelry
  • Plastic
  • Dirt
  • Fly or Caterpillar
  • Naturally occurring objects such as bones and pits

How contamination occurs will be discussed in more detail in the following lesson.

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