Certification and leadership in food service sanitation and safety
Food services operations are dynamic workplaces still driven by human activity. While a good manager understands structure, systems, efficiency, and accomplishments it takes other qualities to create a skilled food service team. Not only does the person in charge need to know how to manage an operation, they also must be able to lead. This is evident when evaluating the cleanliness of an establishment and the practices used daily to keep food safe.
A leader provides planning, direction, guidance, vision, and problem solving while focused on the team. The leader takes a long-term view of the operation and inspires the team to keep quality and food sanitation as a priority.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3000 die from foodborne diseases each year. More than 20 million people get sick from Norovirus alone.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets the guidelines required to serve food safe for consumption thorough the FDA Food Code. The Food Code is the collection of the administrations advice on how to address food safety and protection for food offered in both retail and food service. One of the provisions is to have a designated person in charge of the sanitation program on premise during all hours of the operation.
Why is it important that the person in charge be a leader?
Not only does a person in charge monitor and manage the operations they are required to lead and take actions that the employees and their practices meet and exceed the objectives of the Food Code.
The designated person in charge who is knowledgeable about foodborne disease prevention, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles, and Code requirements is prepared to recognize conditions that may contribute to foodborne illness or that otherwise fail to comply with Code requirements, and to take appropriate preventive and corrective actions.
A leader’s skill in working with, training and motivating people is vital in setting the standard of the operation. The Leader’s vision and guidance help the team plan while being responsive to questions and concerns opens the up to resolving problems together.
How can the person in charge demonstrate competency through certification?
FDA’s Retail Food Risk Factor Studies suggest that the presence of a certified person in charge has a positive correlation with more effective control of certain risk factors, such as poor personal hygiene, in different facility types. Every day there are ways the person in charge can demonstrate competency. There are 5 key steps in becoming a Certified Person in Charge that Leads a successful team.
- The first step is to study sanitation and safety.
- The second is to earn a sanitation credential from an accredited sanitation exam provider.
- The third step is to personally put good sanitation and safety in to practice every day.
- The fourth step is to be a leader and build a culture that values and practices good sanitation and safety every day.
- The final step is to be observant to the activities around. Knowledge prepares you to actively identify and solve issues before unsafe food can be served. The food service operation will reflect the competency and leadership of the certified person in charge.
Your local agency, during an inspection will ask to speak and even walk the facility with the certified person in charge. The agent will ask questions to determine whether or not that person possesses a clear understanding of the Code, its public health principles and how to lead a team to follow sound food safety practices and to produce foods that are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and accurately represented.
Taking appropriate preventative and corrective actions is different that memorizing terms for a test. The WFSO test examines the candidate’s food safety knowledge and their ability to correctly respond to in field observations made by a designated person in charge.