September is National Food Safety Month, a great time to review proper safety practices with your school food service staff. Although the incidence of foodborne illness in schools is low, education and prevention are critical. Food poisoning or foodborne illness is caused by consuming foods contaminated with bacteria and causes flu-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in six people contract a foodborne illness each year in America.
The USDA has established professional standards for school nutrition program employees effective for the 2015-2016 school year. The final rule states that new SFA directors must have at least 8 hours of food safety training within 5 years prior to starting date, or have completed training within 30 days of starting date.
This fall, JSI will be partnering with The School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts by offering the Essentials of Food Safety Workshop at the Fall 2015 Chapter Meetings across the state. Contact your delegate for the date and location scheduled near you. You can also request the same 2-hour Essentials of Food Safety Workshop to Go delivered directly to your school, which covers food safety basics, strategies to avoid cross contamination, proper hand washing, and how to avoid the danger zone. The Institute of Child Nutrition is another excellent training resource and offers many useful food safety fact sheets that can be used to remind you and your staff of potential food related hazards and safety measures.