Monday, November 26, 2012

ServSafe: Important Tips for your Everyday Life

By Nikki Bolduc


The 2012-13 UMD Dietetic Internship class had the opportunity to take the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Examination today.  While no one enjoys studying for exams (well, as far as I know), the ServSafe study material provided useful information that is not only important for food service managers and employees, but also for people with no connection to the food service industry.  Below are a few key points from the ServSafe material for your everyday use. 
  1. Hand Washing:  The most important way to prevent foodborne illness is to wash your hands.  Hand washing should last at least 20 seconds and water should reach at least 100°F.
  2. Foodborne Illness:  Common bacteria responsible for foodborne illness include salmonella, shigella, and enterohemorrhagic and shiga toxin producing E. coli.  Common viruses associated with foodborne illness include Hepatitis A and Norovirus.  Symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and jaundice. 
  3. Food Allergies:  Common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat and soy.  Symptoms of allergic reactions include nausea, wheezing, shortness of breath, hives, rash, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
  4. Cold Food Storage:  Ready-to-eat foods can be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature less than or equal to 41°F for a maximum of 7 days.  On day 7, foods must be eaten, served or thrown out. 
  5. Receiving Temperature:  Cold foods should be bought or received at or below 41°F and hot foods should be bought or received at or above 135°F.  Never buy or accept foods that look off-color or with a torn package and always inspect for evidence of pests.
  6. Thawing Food:  To correctly thaw foods, use one of the following methods - (1) refrigerate at or below 41°F, (2) use running water less than or equal to 70°F for no longer than 4 hours, (3) microwave and cook immediately after, or (4) thaw during the cooking process. 
  7. When to Throw Out:  Cold food can be held without temperature control for 6 hours before it must be thrown out (not to exceed 70°F) and hot food can be held without temperature control for 4 hours before it must be thrown out.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  Have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

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