Mancini speaks: Hands-on training to enhance the safe handling of food

Our own Rob Mancini will be speaking at the 12th Annual North American Summit on Food Safety taking place at the Old Mill in Toronto on Thursday, April 21st, 2016.

Rob_Mancini_001The importance of training food handlers is critical to effective food hygiene; however, there have been limited studies on the effectiveness of such training.

Food safety training courses are administered worldwide in attempts to reduce outbreaks in food service, retail and temporary food service establishments. However, food handlers often exhibit a poor understanding of microbial or chemical contamination of food and the measures necessary to correct them.

Studies suggest that the provision of a hands-on format of training would be more beneficial than traditional classroom-based programs. The delivery of such a program may assist in changing ones’ food safety behaviours and aid in the retention of knowledge that are necessary to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Food safety, hockey: Training could be improved but at least something should be required

In addition to endless sausage sizzles, folks in Brisbane are forever hosting school fetes, dinners, and homemade goods for sale at the weekly tuck shop.

I’m always wary of such items because I have no idea of the preparation technique, sanitation and storage. need 16 hours of training to open a door on a kid’s hockey team, but nothing to offer up food for sale (that’s me this morning, after my practice, and before coaching a kids practice an hour later, getting in some blogging – I was working with the goalies so kept my pads on).

That’s going to change in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.

Mandatory food hygiene training will be required for those preparing food for groups including non-profit organizations holding fundraising suppers and breakfasts.

The new training rules will come into effect on April 1 and will apply to everyone who is involved in food service, P.E.I. Environmental Health manager Joe Bradley said.

“It is for people to understand their role in preparing food for large groups of people as to prevent foodborne illness.”

At least one person in the group holding the fundraising event in which food is served will be required to have the training and will have to be on site, he said.

“Certainly for community groups, church groups that haven’t had the opportunity to access training yet, we would certainly look at a grace period for them to access that training.”

The required mandatory training takes about one day to complete. The free food safety courses are being offered this month in Charlottetown and Summerside.

A shorter course of just a couple of hours for non-profit groups, churches and community service organizations is being planned, Bradley said.

Health officials exploring mandatory training for Hawaiian food businesses

Our weekends are dominated by hockey. Jack, the 7-year-old, practices early Saturday morning with games are Sundays. Sam, the 5-year-old, starts a learn to play hockey class this weekend.

Last year I went through 8 hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of online modules to qualify as a volunteer assistant coach. The worse thing I can do is accidentally hit a kid in the helmet with a puck or fall on one (both of those things have happened this year) but the training is required – and it made me a better coach.

It’s not like I’m handling food that people eat, where if I mess up people could get sick and die.

According to KHON2, Hawaiian health department folks are looking at mandatory food safety education for all food establishments in response to a bunch of poor inspections (maybe this is manager training, maybe for all food employees; I’m not sure).

The state health department says it may soon be asking food establishments to undergo mandatory food safety education in wake of a string of “red-carded” Oahu businesses in October.

Of the over 10,000 restaurant inspections done statewide since July 2014, the DOH says 2,000 restaurants had two or more critical violations. So what has the state learned since the placard system for food establishments was put in place? “One thing in our rules we’re probably going to change later on in the year is have a mandatory food safety education for all restaurants and food establishments in Hawaii,” said Peter Oshiro with the Department of Health.

Since fixing their violations, the North Shore bakery says it’s busier than usual.

“That’s great for the bakery,” Oshiro said. “For us, all we’re concerned with is that they correct violations that impact public health.”

Inspectors also discovered employees were not following proper hygiene or hand-washing rules, something Oshiro says is considered, “one of the most common violations in food establishments.”
“It looks like they may need some form of food safety education so hopefully they might agree to something like that,” Oshiro said.

Neat, no ice: 4 ice safety steps for restaurants, bars, and hotels

Jim Chan, a public health inspector for 36 years who retired in 2013 as manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Heath, writes:

don_draper-300x225During my career as a Health Inspector, one question often asked by the public is “How safe is the ice in food and drinks serve in restaurants?” There is no easy Yes or No answer without having to explain how ice can be contaminated and in what conditions that ice can cause illness. In general, we tend to view ice much the same way we do with drinking water coming out from the tap, and assume that both water and ice are “clean.” Ice must be treated like food, as both can be a source of foodborne illness if not handled safely.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canada have health code regulations around ice and both define ice as food. Here’s an example of code requirements for ice safety under Food Safety legislation: Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 562 (Food Premises) – Ice used in the preparation and processing of food or drink shall be made from potable water and shall be stored and handled in a sanitary manner. Most pathogenic organisms do not readily multiply in ice in restaurants that’s used for food and drinks. However, scientific research has also shown that some bacteria and viruses can survive cold or freezing for long period of time. Therefore, it is important for restaurant operators to ensure their ice does not become contaminated.

icemachine_junk_450Contamination can be introduced by airborne particles, contaminated water supply, food handlers or dirty utensils. But the main cause of ice in restaurants, bars and hotels becoming contaminated is human error: improper ice handling. Training staff is critical to ice safety. Contaminated ice can cause foodborne illness – reduce your risk with regular cleanings, periodic thorough sanitation (by a professional), regular maintenance, and, of course, training. Note: If your commercial ice machine is in a high yeast environment (pizzerias and breweries for example) or if you’re water source is from a well, you will need additional professional deep cleanings.

Lack of regular inspections, exposure to poor hygiene and improper handling of ice will increase the risk of contamination. You don’t want your restaurant or hotel guests getting sick because of inadequate cleanings and sanitation of your ice machine.

To reduce the risk of ice being a source of foodborne illness, restaurant operators and managers should be aware of the following points and to conduct regular self-inspection to identify problems early:

1) Train restaurant or bar staff in proper ice handling practices (bar and kitchen)

Wash hands before getting ice from ice making machine.

Hold only the ice scoop handle and not other parts of the scoop.

Do not scoop ice using water glasses or cups and never handle the ice with hands.

Do not return unused ice to the ice machine/ice bin.

Keep doors of the commercial ice machine closed except when removing ice.

Ice scoops should be stored outside the ice maker and kept in a clean container. Ice scoop & container should be washed & sanitized regularly.

Do not store anything such as food, drinks, fruit etc. in the ice machine. Never use ice machine as a refrigerator!

Clean the ice making machine regularly and fix all problems identified.

Never put Anything in the ice bin…except clean, untouched ice!

2) Inspect and clean/sanitize the ice making machine regularly

Inspect the exterior of the machine. Ensure the door, handle and hatch of the ice machine are clean and in good repair.

Look for any evidence of growth of scum, slime or mold inside the machine. If such growths are observed, immediately clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Tip: The ice should be removed from the ice bin and disposed during cleaning to avoid cross contamination by chemicals). cleaning of an ice making machine should be done at least weekly by staff and the process can be as simple as running a sanitizing solution through the cycle, then running two cycles of ice, dispose of these before running ice for drinks and food. Make sure this is part of your weekly cleaning schedule!

3) Routine Ice Machine Services, Maintenance and Major Cleaning/Sanitizing

The ice making machine should be serviced by a professional technician at least twice year, which requires being taken apart for inspection and major cleaning and sanitizing. This needs to be performed by a professional! By choosing Easy Ice for your ice machine (instead of owning or leasing), your ice maker subscription includes 2 deep cleanings a year. And they schedule it for you – saving you not only time but money! And you’re assured the ice machine is clean when the Health Inspector stops by.

A typical cleaning routine would include the following steps:

Turn off the electrical supply and empty the ice bin.

Remove the protective curtain or cover (if present) and check the drain to ensure it is clear.

Clean all surfaces inside using hot water and a cleaner or detergent, follow with an antibacterial sanitizer by wiping all internal surfaces and allow adequate contact-time for the sanitizer to work. (Tip: Do not rinse off the surfaces, allow to air dry)

Wash and sanitize the plastic curtains, cover, ice scoops etc… (Tip: Use hot water and detergent for washing and then soak in a sterilizing solution as per manufacturer’s instructions)

Check the door and ensure it can close tightly to prevent dirt entering the ice making machine.

Switch machine back on and ensure it works properly.

4)  Additional factors to consider for cleaning and sanitizing of commercial ice machines


Microorganisms such as bacteria, can grow together and secret a matrix of polymers to form a protective shield known as Biofilm on surfaces such as food & ice container, ice machine walls, trays etc. Think of the bacteria producing a secretion to make a ‘bionic blanket’ covering themselves and protecting them from attack by chemicals such as cleaning & sanitizing agents. Within the biofilm, pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Shigella can survive and can cause spoilage or infection later when released.

The best way to prevent biofilms from developing is regular cleaning & sanitizing all surfaces that come in contact with food, drinks & ice. However, if biofilms already formed, surfaces must be physically cleaned by scrubbing and than follow with sanitizing to kill the pathogens to ensure a clean and safe environment for food, drinks & ice.

Ice safety is as important as food safety and should be a priority for your restaurant, hotel or bar. By following the above protocol, you can be assured of serving your guests clean, safe ice. Choose to ignore these key points and you may receive a fine, or worse – a shut down, from the Health Inspector. Protect your reputation, your guests and your bank account.

You can’t handle the truth: Surveys still suck and do not measure behavior

Food safety training is an important tool in preventing foodborne illness (FI), which affects millions of people each year in the United States and around the world and costs billions of dollars. gives those working in the food service industry the knowledge and skills necessary to properly handle, cook and serve food.

The objectives of this research was to assess changes in knowledge of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County’s (PHDMC) Level One Food Safety Certification program participants, analyze which questions were most often answered incorrectly, and determine whether there was a relationship between quiz scores and primary job responsibility, using pre- and postquiz training data. The course teaches food safety topics, including handwashing, employee hygiene, correct cooking and holding temperatures, sanitization duties of the person in charge, and others. The participants are offered a quiz at the beginning of the course, and the same quiz is offered after completion of the two-hour training.

Pre-training and post-training quiz score data were obtained from approximately 692 participants completing the PHDMC Level One Food Safety Certification program from 2011 to 2013. Paired t-tests were used to evaluate change in scores overall, on individual questions, and by job responsibility. Quiz scores significantly improved both aggregately (20.6%) and in nine out of the ten questions. The temperature-related questions had the most incorrect answers (score range: 38% – 71%) but also showed the most improvement (improvement range: 28% – 49%). This research shows that PHDMC’s Level One Food Safety Certification class was associated with a change in knowledge of participants from pre- to post-training.

Increasing knowledge with food safety training at public health – Dayton & Montgomery County

Food Protection Trends, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 262-269, July 2015

Matthew M. Tyler, Naila Khalil, Sara Paton

Food safety training can suck

Rob Mancini writes:

Rob_Mancini_001Food safety training is seen as an integral component in the public health system designed to reduce the likelihood of a foodborne illness.

Traditional food safety training courses are administered via classroom-based programs or on-line with little to no hands-on component. If our intention as food safety professionals is to change ones’ food safety behaviors, then it is time to resort to educational psychology- what works and what doesn’t work.

Different people learn in different ways and we must address this issue. A hands-on component is necessary to instill positive correct food safety practices and to aid in memory retention. More often than none, feedback that I receive is that there is no time to do any hands-on work, the class is too long. Not true. Reduce the amount of PowerPoint slides by eliminating the “fluff” and do some hands-on work. Students will not retain 8-hours of information in the long-term.

Paul Forsyth writes in Niagara This Week:

Many Niagara residents are likely being spared the miserable physical symptoms of food poisoning thanks to mandatory food safety training for staff at places such as restaurants, banquet halls and nursing homes, regional politicians were set to hear on June 2.

The Region, which oversees public health in Niagara, pushed for years to have the province bring in mandatory food safety training in Ontario. Faced with inaction on that front, and on the heels of some high-profile outbreaks of food poisoning, the Region brought in its own mandatory training bylaw several years ago.

A new report to regional politicians suggests a whole lot less people are enduring the wretched vomiting and diarrhea that are hallmarks of food poisoning because of safer food handling.

Environmental health manager Chris Gaspar, who wrote the report in consultation with environmental health director Bjorn Christensen, said 459 cases of food poisoning were investigated by public health last year.

But he said it’s estimated that only about 4.4 per cent of actual food poisoning cases are reported, meaning it’s likely the number of cases in Niagara was probably closer to 10,500 last year based on that ratio.

The cost of those outbreaks is astounding. In a report last year, public health staff looked at the number of food poisoning cases of campylobacter, salmonella, E. coli 0157 and shigella — just four of about 30 commonly acquired pathogens. That report noted each case can cost about $1,068 due to medical costs and lost productivity due to people being too sick to go to work, meaning the estimated 3,273 annual poisoning cases involving those four pathogens comes with a pricetag of more than $3 million in Niagara.

But Gaspar said in his new report that the number of cases of E. coli food poisoning in Niagara have plummeted  since the introduction of mandatory food safety training, dropping from two cases per 100,000 people in 2012 to just 0.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2014 — a drop of  about 90 per cent.

Name and shame, Victoria style

That’s Victoria, the Australian state, where 25 per cent of the name and shame offences in food service directly related to a lack of training.

trainingGrace Smith writes for the Australian Institute of Food Safety that once an eatery has been discovered to breach Standard 3.2.2 Clause 3(1) (b) of the Food Act S16 (1), their details are added to the register for twelve months where the public can access details about their misconduct. The clause demands that all food-based establishments are responsible for ensuring that the people who are supervising or undertaking food handling operations must have “knowledge of food safety and food hygiene matters”.

Some of the establishments that were charged with failing to comply with food safety training laws include:

Milk Torquay Pty Ltd: Fined $6000.00 as part of their aggregate order, with $10,000 costs.

High Street Bakers and Confectioners of Thornbury: Fined $40,700.00 as part of their aggregate order with $1,300.00 costs.

Dream Cakes Café of Oakleigh: Fined $5,000.00 as part of their aggregate order with $6009.35 costs, and $10,000 in another aggregate order with $6009 costs.

While it’s safe to say that these convicted vendors were found guilty of various breaches, including handwashing and cleanliness problems, it’s shocking to imagine that in 2014, restaurants, cafes, and eateries are still staffed by individuals ignorant of food safety matters.

The federal legislation in Australia currently states that all people who are responsible for handling food must undertake food safety training appropriate to their position. The law also requires that businesses comply with the Food Standards Code – a collection of individual food standards that was jointly developed by professionals in Australia and New Zealand. Providing people with food that does not meet this code is a criminal offence.

Furthermore, the state legislation in Victoria outlines that every business dealing with food must have a Food Safety Supervisor on staff who is reasonably contactable at all times. The Food Safety Supervisor must have completed a mandatory training course and is responsible for preventing, monitoring and dealing with food safety issues as they arise, as well as being responsible for the ensuring all food handlers are trained appropriately in food safety.

Does that work? More training planned at Chicago grocery after failed health inspections

Employees of a Park Ridge grocery store will undergo additional training in public health and food safety after the store failed two consecutive inspections last year.

mariano'sMariano’s, which opened in February of last year in the former Dominick’s at 1900 S. Cumberland Ave., was hit with a $100 fine from the Park Ridge Department of Environment Health after the store received a 52 percent score during a routine December inspection. In July, the market’s score was 50 percent.

According to sanitation inspection reports compiled by the city’s environmental health officers, violations involving improper food temperature and inadequate refrigeration largely accounted for the deductions the store received and the ultimate failing grades.

Examples cited in the Dec. 12 inspection report included a pre-made sandwich refrigerator reportedly operating at 62 degrees, well above the 41-degree maximum; a cheese case recording temperatures of 50 degrees for more than one hour; and sliced tomatoes on a prep table measuring 70 degrees.

The food was ordered thrown away, the report stated.

According to the report, a number of hot foods on the store’s buffet bar were not as hot as they should have been because too many items had been piled in the heated containers, cooling off the food on top.

“If you over-stack hot food, it won’t keep at 135 degrees minimum temperature required,” the inspector’s report stated. “I found sausage and chicken below 135 degrees because it was overstocked. The chicken was at 98 degrees, sausage at 106.”

On Jan. 7 of this year, Park Ridge’s health inspectors met with representatives from Mariano’s and Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. to “clarify the importance of employee training,” said Laura Dee, environmental health officer for the city.

Dee said that while Mariano’s was striving for “high level” customer service and food presentation, employees did not appear to be receiving the right training regarding food temperature and basic hand-washing procedures.

“Employees have to be trained to take their job seriously,” she said. “If it’s 80 percent customer service and only 20 percent food service sanitation, then it has to be balanced.”

Chef teaches inmates (Blues Brothers?) at Cook County Jail how to cook, how to live

When it comes to getting a fresh start in life, a jail is probably just about the last place that comes to mind — particularly one as large and with as storied a past as Illinois’ Cook County Jail.

n-BRUNO-large570But a new beginning is exactly what’s being served up these days in Division 11. Bruno Abate, chef and owner of Tocco, a popular Italian restaurant in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, has been teaching a cooking class to inmates.

The class, which began last spring, isn’t just about cooking up a perfectly crispy pizza or a zesty marinara. Rather, Abate says the program aims to educate its participants in professionalism and responsibility, and to give them hope for their life beyond the cell — hope that they can secure employment, many of them through Abate’s restaurant, and avoid returning to jail.

“I’m trying to teach them the simple life, that you always have the chance to start again,” the Naples, Italy native told The Huffington Post. “You made a mistake, but this country is a good country to start again as long as you’re strong and you fight for the freedom to make a change in your life.”

Abate, who has lived in Chicago since 1998 and opened Tocco in 2009, starts the program with lessons in food safety and sanitation before moving onto classes centered on nutrition, fresh pasta, pizza, cooking with fresh herbs, baking bread and more. When it comes to utensils that could be used as weapons, namely knives, the implements are tethered to the table when in use and stored in lockboxes when they aren’t.

When I was in jail, it was spoons for every meal. I taught school, and afterwards for awhile, but this program sounds awesome. And I had a lotta love.

Today in 1979, the Blues Brothers hit #1 with Briefcase Full of Blues (yes the clip is from the movie, not the album, which I owned, on vinyl).

‘Total lack of knowledge’ In poor taste in Phoenix

Parenting and preparing food are about the only two activities that do not require some kind of certification in Western countries. To coach little girls playing ice hockey in Canada requires 16 hours of training. To coach kids on a travel team requires an additional 24 hours of training. Anyone who serves, prepares or handles food, in a restaurant, nursing home, day care center, supermarket or local market should have some basic food safety training.

court.hockeyNot the case in Phoenix, where Judy Hedding of Travel writes, I don’t recall ever seeing such extensive comments by an inspector about the total lack of knowledge of food operations as I read in the report of our worst offender for last week. Eat sushi there? I don’t think so. Eat anything there? I think not. I have to wonder why there is not such score as F.

The following list represents those restaurants (not schools, caterers, corporate cafeterias, bakeries or other food processing businesses) that had three or more Priority Violations — those that are considered a serious risk for foodborne illness — during their last inspection. Three or more Priority Violations means that the grade for that inspection is a D (there are no F grades). The worst are at the top of the list. A restaurant that had that many Priority Violations noted would be one that I’d avoid, at least until they had subsequent inspections showing more understanding of safe food preparation standards and concern for their patrons. I also include establishments where their license was immediately suspended by the inspector.

Typically, this involves an equipment failure that can’t be corrected immediately. Examples might be refrigeration units that don’t cool enough, plumbing problems, or availability of clean water. Their license might be reinstated, even later that same day, if they correct the problems noted. Restaurants reported here are located in communities all over Maricopa County. That means not only Phoenix, but also Scottsdale; the cities and towns in the West Valley like Glendale, Peoria, Surprise; the cities and towns in the East Valley like Tempe, Chandler and Mesa; as well as other county locations. County inspectors may or may not inspect restaurants in every part of the county every week.

After you peruse the worst, please take a look at the many Phoenix area restaurants that achieved the best inspections during the week ending January 18, 2015. Those are arranged by zip code, for your convenience. They deserve our support and our business. Restaurants With the Worst Health Department Inspection Results For Week Ending January 18, 2015

Business Name Address City Zip Code Priority Violation
Schlotzsky’s 4445 E Thomas Rd Phoenix 85018 Immediate Suspension
Eastwind Restaurant 13637 N Tatum Blvd Phoenix 85032 9
La 15 Y Salsas Restaurant 1507 W Hatcher Rd Phoenix 85021 6
Dobson Ranch Bar & Grill 1644 S Dobson Rd Mesa 85202 6
Nanay’s 2390 N Alma School Rd Chandler 85224 6
Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy 16092 Arrowhead Ftns Ctr Dr Peoria 85381 4
Rosa’s Mexican Grill 328 E University Dr Mesa 85201 4
Cristal Bakery & Mexican Food 6402 W Glendale Ave Glendale 85303 4
Thai Spices 66 S Dobson Rd Mesa 85202 4
Sonic Drive In Mesa 618 W Southern Ave Mesa 85210 3
Flancer’s Cafe 610 N Gilbert Rd Gilbert 85223 3
Tropical Smoothie Cafe 13375 W Mcdowell Rd Goodyear 85338 3
Waffle House 1801 W Baseline Rd Guadalupe 85283 3
Culver’s 630 E Southern Ave Tempe 85282 3

braun.hockeyYou can see the inspection history of any place that serves or handles food at the Maricopa County website. If you are interested in Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Superior, Florence, Maricopa or Casa Grande, you can find restaurant reports for Pinal County, too. Restaurant information provided by the Maricopa County Environmental Health Services Division, used with permission. The image on this page is generic, and not associated with any of the restaurants mentioned here.