Food safety program offered

Published 12:59 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

By Staff
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Food Safety Program is pleased to offer &#8220ServSafe” to restaurant and foodservice organizations in the state of Alabama.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 5,000 deaths are caused by food-borne illnesses in the United States each year, and the majority are caused by the mishandling of food.
The media continues to play a major role in encouraging consumer awareness by exposing unsafe food practices and broadcasting health scores, which are displayed at the establishments.
One case of food-borne illness in an establishment can significantly damage an establishment's reputation, causing a loss of customers and sales.
This certification program is designed to protect the establishments and keep the customers safe.
ServSafe is a program accredited by the National Restaurant Association and is the industry standard in food safety.
The Food Safety Certification training course offered through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System includes topics such as contamination and food-borne illness; storage, preparation, and serving; and food safety regulations and standards.
The program is designed specifically for food-handling employees of restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, daycares, and other food service professionals. The intensive 12-hour course is spread over three consecutive sessions, ending with the certification exam.
Once certified, managers are issued a ServSafe certificate which can be displayed at their dining establishments.
This certification demonstrates concern for consumer food safety, and also fulfills state requirements. Because of changes to the Alabama food code, it is very important to make sure that your restaurant is in compliance with the current laws.
Although some counties in Alabama require that foodservice establishments have at least one person on duty at all times with ServSafe certification, it will become a state-wide requirement over the next few years. Check with your local health department for specifics.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has eight Food Safety, Regional Extension Agents representing each county in Alabama who are trained to teach the course. ServSafe classes are offered monthly from County Extension Offices, or Extension professionals can come on-site if your company wishes to certify 10 or more employees. The course fee is $130 per person, which includes the book, examination, and testing materials. For a group of 20 or more employees, there is a reduction at a rate of $90 per registrant.
Hand washing training is also available to local food service organizations as well as food processing companies. This is a service to our counties which is offered at no charge to clients. Agents also answer many food safety questions over the phone.
The ServSafe class and exam will be held June 21-23 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Jon Archer Agricultural Center located at 1070 Schillinger Road, North, Mobile.
For more information about ServSafe Classes, or to register for an upcoming class, you can contact Amelia McGrew at 251-574-8445 or