About one in six Americans — 48 million people — get sick from food poisoning every year. Around five thousand people die from food poisoning each year according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In the restaurant business, there are a lot of responsibilities that an operator or owner has to balance. From their investments, security, liabilities, and the list goes on and on.
Well, guess what, it doesn’t end there, and it gets tougher as you go along.
I have spoken before about marketing and geographical surveys as well as market trends. We’ve addressed the food cost, the labor cost, the liquor cost and building the relationships necessary to be successful.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and you wonder why you’re doing this? Guess what?
There’s more; I am talking about life or death in the restaurant business!
Life or Death. What are you saying? Good question. What I am talking about are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Two of the biggest government agencies that regulate the food industry.
So what about the local health department?
A local health department is a government agency on the front lines of public health. Local health departments may be entities of local or state government and often report to a mayor, city council, county board of health or county commission.
You need to pay attention and following procedures and understand government regulations pertaining to the food industry. Sometimes we feel that the government is too involved in our lives and needs to back off, but this is not one of those times. For year’s the restaurant business was not regulated enough, and we had issues that caused someone serious illness. When we talk about this business, and we talk about the consumption of cooked or raw product, being educated and understand the consequences that come from, not being knowledgeable of your business.
So where is the accountability factor? When you are accountable, it’s defined as ” the obligation of an individual or organization to account for activities”.
In the food service industry, it means be accountable to the public. If you are being accountable and following the right procedures of handling food, you will be preventing anyone from being contaminated.
The Big Five
What you may not know that there is a list of the top five infectious pathogens that get transmitted through food contamination. They include Norovirus, the Hepatitis A virus, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella, and Ecolli. This group is a highly infectious group of foodborne pathogens and have a low infectious dose, contaminate the gastrointestinal systems after ingestion. Sounds pretty nasty, and it is, and this is why you need to be aware of what to look for and be knowledgeable of the potential dangers.
In the food industry, there are certifications that food service professionals can attain through continual education. In fact, most state health inspectors require that there is always someone Serve Safe certified during operational hours. In the food industry, there was a period of time where serving safe food for consumption was not regulated.
Being a food service professional involves serious commitment to being educated and understanding local and state regulations along with health codes.
Remember you are dealing with people and the consumption of food, and you need to take it seriously!