The debate continues. Baltimore City District 2 councilman Brandon Scott proposes the city adapt a rating system similar to that of other big cities like New York. My ‘vote’ on this issue is still out. I have concerns that often inspectors do not judge facilities equally and until I am convinced that the system will rate all facilities on an equal scale I am going to have to vote no.
With that said, I do think there are some steps we can take to protect consumers from unsafe food handlers. Yes, I put the majority of responsibility of serving safe food on the actual food handler. According to CDC statistics, when the pathogen is known that caused an illness, 58% of the time, 5.5 Million cases a year domestically are caused from Norovirus. Norovirus is spread rapidly and only a small amount of the virus is needed to make you ill. Typically, most will recover from Norovirus after a week of vomiting and diarrhea, although dehydration can cause other problems that may require further care. Norovirus, causes 14,663 hospitalizations a year.
I said it the responsibility of the food handler to protect the food. But it is the responsibility of the restaurant owner or manager to take an active role in providing sufficient training to ALL food handlers. Baltimore City is one jurisdiction in Maryland that requires a CFSM (Certified Food Safety Manager) on duty at all times. From personal experience and hearing feedback from students in my classes that knowledge learned during training is not always taught to the actual line worker or prep staff. I would like to see food handler training required of all food handlers as it is in TX and CA. This is not the same 16 hour course required of Managers but a 2-3 hour course that teaching proper techniques to avoid cross contamination, practice good personal hygiene, proper cleaning and sanitizing methods and how to avoid time and temperature abuse.
During an interview with a restaurant owner on WBAL TV the owner said, “If you run a high-volume restaurant or food service or bar, the place in the morning before you open, you could have every qualification to be an ‘A’ but in the middle of a high-volume rush, even doing the best you can, you’d be at a ‘B’ or a ‘C’,” Filipidis said.
I disagree!! This is exactly the mindset that needs to be changed. Busy or slow, food safety should NEVER be second to volume. Food handlers need active training and employers need to enforce best practices.