Monday, December 11, 2023

Warren County eatery managers learned ‘ServSafe’ food practices

By Hannah Hughes, Chronicle Summer Staff

Employees of Six Flags, The Queensbury Hotel and other Warren county establishments gathered at Adirondack Pub and Brewery on Wednesday, June 21, for the ServSafe® Managers class.

It was offered free by the Lake George Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“The ServSafe® program is dedicated to providing food safety training, exams, and educational materials for food service managers,” said the press release.

The class was taught by Frank Burns, a certified ServSafe® instructor who has experience in the food service industry and teaches hospitality management at SUNY Adirondack. He touched on several topics, all in preparation for the test, which is given at the end to earn ServSafe® Manager Certification.

The CDC estimates 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness each year. Mr. Burns said that what people call the “24 hour flu” is usually a foodborne illness of some kind, and sometimes symptoms don’t show up until days or weeks after you eat contaminated food.

Common practices that can cause illness include:

• time/temperature abuse (keeping food at an unsafe temperature for too long)
• contaminated equipment or ingredients
• improper cooking or store time
• lack of employee personal hygiene
• cross contamination.

The ServSafe® program goes into great detail in an effort to educate food service employees in the best ways that they can manage and diminish risk factors in their own businesses.

Mr. Burns focused on the importance of thorough training and retraining of employees, as staff turnover and unclear communication and instruction could easily break down food safety measures.

“I think as an industry we don’t do a very good job of training our people,” Mr. Burns said, explaining that not only is it a possible hazard for customers, but that a lack of training will drive employees away as well. He drove home the fact that a manager should be constantly monitoring employees and engaging in constructive, corrective action when needed.

Staff should also be aware that some patrons may be more susceptible to foodborne illness, like young children, the elderly, and people with auto-immune diseases or allergies.

Additionally, Mr. Burns talked about food defense, and the active role managers and employees should take to make sure the food and people that come into an establishment are safe. This includes staff background checks, thoroughly checking products, supervising deliveries and making sure all products are coming from legitimate sources.

Another simple practice that Mr. Burns emphasized is handwashing. Proper hand washing primarily prevents cross-contamination, but it is also good practice to keep up with personal hygiene, both of which are important to preventing foodborne illness.

Another simple yet effective practice is the importance of sending home sick employees, or staying home when you’re sick. “You really have to…bite the bullet and send them home, because if you keep them [everybody is] going to get sick,” said Mr. Burns.

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