Lack of food safety costly for diners, eateries; Alabama training center tries to fix errors

Here’s a common scene from many of the mom and pop restaurants I’ve visited: a towel used to sop up juice from raw hamburger meat also is used to wipe down counters.

Phyllis Fenn, a standardization officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health’s bureau of environmental services, has seen the same thing – too often.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports today the Food Safety Training Center on Atlanta Highway is an attempt both to help restaurant owners avoid bad inspections and to protect their customers’ health.

When Alabama adopted the 2005 Food Code, one provision was that at least one person in restaurants where raw foods are handled, including fast-food eateries and sushi bars, would become food safety certified. When the state adopted the code, it opted to go with a lead-in time — Jan. 1 of this year.

The classes can help restaurants improve their health department inspection scores, which is exactly what they are designed to do, Fenn said.

She said the certification class helps restaurants reduce food-related illnesses as well as teaching them about the proper temperatures to cook and hold food (the temperature of food that sits out at a buffet) and proper hygiene.