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Food Safety Classes and Education

May 6, 2011

When Is Food Safety Education Required?

As many of you know, Montana is one of the few states that does not require food safety training in order to work in food service; however, training is encouraged and available from a variety of sources.  Sysco, FSA, Montana Restaurant Association, and county offices such as ours, have a wide array of training programs depending on your needs.  Check out our food safety education section of the website for links and information on these resources.

While initial training may not be required in the Montana Food Rules, the Missoula City-County Health Code does require it under the following circumstances:

1) When an establishment has been closed by the department;
2) Whenever a third inspection is required and a re-inspection fee has been assessed; or
3) Whenever the department notifies an establishment of their history of non-compliance with two or more critical violations on at least three past inspections.

The training requirement is not intended to be a penalty, but rather a way to get information to operators and clear up any confusion about the regulations.  Operators who have had to provide training under these circumstances have not only done better on their next inspection, but also have found ways of making important changes stick.  In seeing the improvements in their staff and inspections, operators have often sent employees to annual refresher courses. 

If you would like to sign-up for our next food safety class, or would like to inquire about other training options, please call 258-4755.

Food Safety Classes/Education
January 3, 2011

Food Safety Education Survey Results

Last year, I created a food safety education survey asking for feedback on what kind of training should be required in food establishments in Missoula. 

Here are the results thus far:
* All those surveyed felt that Missoula should require food safety education for restaurant employees.
*All surveyed believed that there should be a manager on shift at all times with 8-hours of food safety training.
*While everyone who responded agreed that employees should have food safety training of some kind, their responses varied between 2 and 8 hours of seat time.  The majority of responses indicated that there should be some kind of exam at the end of the course taken.
*Comments cited cost of training as an issue, but expressed its importance regardless of expense.

At this time the survey is still open.  So if any of you would like to let us know what you think, please do so.  I will let all of you know if there will be any changes in the requirements for food safety certification or the services we provide!

Food Safety Classes/Education
July 26, 2010

Required Food Safety Education???

I am often stunned by the number of inquiries I get regarding Montana's food safety education requirements.  Every week I get phone calls from folks asking what kind of Food Handler Certification they need in order to open or work in a restaurant here in Missoula County.  After I politely explain that no training is required, I brace myself for the inevitable... Are you serious?  And yes... I am.

While most states around the country have revamped their state or local requirements to include food safety training, Montana has yet to make that step, and many times, I find myself asking why we haven't joined the fold.  This is one area where being like everyone else would actually be a good thing.

My desire to be a lemming for once in my life was further emphasized at the 2010 Food Safety Education Conference in Atlanta, where I listened as other jurisdictions from across the country discussed their education programs.  I looked at studies that examined the relationship between Certified Kitchen Managers, critical violations and outbreaks, and discussed trends seen in kitchens with other food safety trainers.  One study in particular, "Certified Kitchen Managers: Do They Improve Restaurant Inspection Outcomes" (Cates, et al., 2008), noted the positive affect that trained staff had on the number of glove use and hand washing violations.  And while some relationships in the study require further exploration, the trends observed overall echoed what I observe everyday while doing inspections.  The places with the highest number of critical violations are not only full service restaurants with the highest risk menu, but most often, they have a manager who cannot provide needed training and oversight.  The establishments that do the best job with handling, basic cleaning and sanitizing have certified managers and the restaurants that seek training after a rocky inspection are the most improved. 

I know this all seems very common sense-- having well trained and responsible leaders and team members equals success.  But like anything, training costs time and money and often, people do not know that they-- well, don't know...  anyway. 

So here's my plug, let's get everyone in the know!  If we get the information out there we will be helping ourselves, our businesses and the public.  Gallatin County has already implemented mandatory training for all managers and I think it would be awesome if Missoula took the same initiative!

What do you think Missoula?

Please take the survey below and give MCCHD valuable feedback.

Food Safety Classes and Education
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