FOOD PROTECTION PROGRAM FAQ's
WHAT TYPE OF FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT NEEDS TO EMPLOY A QUALIFIED FOOD OPERATOR (QFO) ?
Food service establishments classified by local health departments as class III or class IV food service establishments. (Class I & II establishments are not required to employ a QFO)
WHAT ARE CLASS III AND IV FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS ?
A class III food service establishment prepares potentially hazardous food by heat processing and serves it within 4 hours. If the food is prepared by heat processing and held for more than 4 hours before being consumed it is a class IV food service establishment. Food service establishments that serve: only commercially packaged precooked foods, that are heated in the original container and served within 4 hours; or commercially precooked hot dogs, kielbasa and soup transferred out of the original package heated and served within 4 hours, are exempt from the provisions of this regulation.
WHO CAN BE CERTIFIED AS THE QFO ?
The owner, operator or manager can be the Qualified Food Operator or s/he can employ onsite a full-time person in a supervisory capacity who possesses the knowledge and ability to assess the potential for foodborne illness and develop and implement procedures that would eliminate or reduce the risk.
BY WHAT DATE MUST A QFO BE APPOINTED ?
Class III and IV establishments must employ a Qualified Food Operator by August 1, 1997 and replace a Qualified Food Operator within sixty days from the date of termination or transfer.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A QFO IN A FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT ?
A person can become a Qualified Food Operator by: (1) being an owner, operator, manager or supervisor in a food service establishment, and passing an examination administered by one of the three testing organizations approved by the State Department of Public Health, or (2) having the owner/operator of the food service establishment, sign a statement attesting that the Qualified Food Operator has demonstrated knowledge of food safety as specified in The Public Health Code (PHC). The local director of health may require documentation to support the signed statement.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE QFO?
The QFO is responsible for:
Operating the food service establishment in compliance with all the provisions of Sec. 19-13-B42, 19-13-B48 and 19-13-B49 of the regulations as is pertinent to the establishment.
Training food preparation personnel in safe food preparation practices, proper food temperature control, food protection, personal health and cleanliness, and sanitation of the facility, equipment, supplies and utensils.
Maintaining written documentation of employee training.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT OWNER/OPERATOR UNDER THIS REGULATION ?
The owner/operator is responsible for:
Appoint a QFO who is in a full-time supervisory capacity and has demonstrated knowledge in the safe preparation and service of food.
Appoint an alternate person to be in charge at all times when the QFO is not present.
Notify local health, in writing, when the QFO is no longer employed by the food establishment.
Apply for written approval from the local director of health before changing operations to a different classification.
Appoint a successor QFO within 60 days and notify local health of the appointment.
Maintain on file and provide upon request to local health the following
Documentation that a QFO has been duly appointed, e.g., certificate from an approved testing organization or signed statement.
Documentation that an alternate QFO has been appointed.
Training records of food preparation employees
DOES EACH SHIFT OF A FOOD ESTABLISHMENT OPERATED ON A 24 HOUR WORK SCHEDULE NEED A QUALIFIED FOOD OPERATOR ?
No. The regulation requires that there be one QFO in a food service establishment. This person is in charge of the food safety operations, of the food service establishment in all departments, all shifts. The manager/owner/operator must appoint an alternate to be in charge when the QFO is absent. The regulation does not require that the alternate meet the credentials of a qualified food operator. (It is strongly encouraged that other staff achieve the level of knowledge required of the QFO.)
WILL NON-PROFIT CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS WHO ROUTINELY RENT THEIR FACILITIES TO INDIVIDUALS BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A QFO ON PREMISES ?
If the non-profit organization (Elks, American Legion, Knights of Columbus etc.), because of its menu and food service functions conducted, meets the definition of a food service establishment then it would have to be classified, according to the PHC guidelines. If it is classified by the local health department as a class III or IV food service establishment then the manager/operator would have to appoint a QFO, if meals are prepared or served on a regular basis. If, however, the non-profit civic organization occasionally rents its facilities to other organizations and/or individuals and does not prepare or serve food on a regular basis it is exempt under the regulation.
WILL NON-PROFIT CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A QUALIFIED FOOD OPERATOR ON THE PREMISES ?
If the non-profit organization’s operation is defined as a "food service establishment" and is designated as class III or IV, a QFO would have to be employed in a supervisory position at the establishment if it routinely prepared meals for the public. If a non-profit organization is not designated as a food service establishment, but occasionally has special functions, then the exemptions of Section 19-13-B42(s)(4) of the Connecticut Public Health Code would apply and a QFO would not be required for a particular event. "Temporary food service establishments and special events sponsored by non-profit civic organizations such as, but not limited to, school sporting events, little league food booths, church suppers, and fairs," are exempt from the requirements for qualified food operators.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ALTERNATE QFO
It is not required that the alternate be qualified by examination or signed statement. He/she should be knowledgeable about the safe preparation and service of food and be responsible for:
being in charge of the food safety function when the QFO is absent;
ensuring that employees comply with the requirements of 19-13-B42;
ensuring that food is safely prepared;
handling emergencies, admitting the inspector, and signing the inspection report.
WHEN IS THE QUALIFIED FOOD OPERATOR REQUIRED TO BE RECERTIFIED OR REPLACED?
There is no requirement for recertifying qualified food operators and no specified expiration of their qualified status.
WHAT IF THE DESIGNATED QFO HAS DEMONSTRATED KNOWLEDGE BY PASSING ONE OF THE APPROVED TESTS YEARS AGO?
The law indicates that passing a test by an approved testing organization is acceptable for demonstrating the food safety knowledge of an individual. Therefore, as long as the testing organization is approved by the DPH it does not matter when the individual passed the test.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS CONCERNING FOOD PREPARATION AND PROTECTION
Q. What foods are most frequently involved in foodborne disease outbreaks?
A. Beef, turkey, ham and chicken
These are among the so-called "potentially hazardous foods" and consist in whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, gravy, poultry, fish, shellfish, or other ingredients capable of supporting the rapid growth of bacteria.
Q. What bacteria cause most foodborne illnesses?
A. Salmonella -- found in the feces of infected animals and a common contaminant of poultry, eggs, beef, and pork. Cooking of poultry products to an internal temperature of
165§ F. will kill this bacteria.
Clostridium perfringens -- found in feces of man and animals and in contaminated meat and poultry. This bacteria produces a spore which is a very resistant form of life. The spore is not destroyed by the normal cooking process. In order to control the growth of this organism, foods must be cooled rapidly in small quantities.
Staphylococcus -- found in the throat, nose, on the hair, in feces, and on the skin of people and animals. Since this bacteria produces a toxin which is not destroyed by cooking, proper temperature control is necessary to prevent foodborne illness.
Q. What are the major factors contributing to foodborne disease outbreaks?
A. - Failure to properly cool potentially hazardous foods; they should be rapidly cooled and kept below 45§ F.
- Lapse of a day or more between preparing and serving.
- Foods improperly cooked, and improper hot storage.
- Infected employees and/or poor personal hygiene.
- Inadequate reheating
- Improper cleaning and disinfecting of kitchen equipment.
Q. How do you prevent foodborne illness?
A. Cooking, cooling, storing, and holding temperatures are the key factors.
- Cook poultry and stuffings to a minimum of 165§ F.
- Cook pork to a minimum of 150§ F. to prevent trichinosis.
- Never use "warming units" -- such as steam tables -- for cooking or reheating food.
Storing and Cooling
- Never let foods cool at room temperature.
- Cool potentially hazardous foods from 130§ F. to 70§ F. in less than 2 hours.
- Store potentially hazardous foods at 45§ F. or below.
- Cool foods in small portions in pans less than 4 inches deep.
- For rapid cooling, put pans in contact with ice or cold running water or place pans in freezer for a couple of hours and then store in the refrigerator.
- Reheat all potentially hazardous foods to a minimum of 165§ F.
- During service, hold hot foods at 140§ F. or above, and cold foods at 45§ F. or below.
Q. What is the safest way to thaw frozen meat, poultry, and fish?
A. These items can be thawed under refrigeration; under cool running water; or as part of the cooking process. A large turkey or roast may take 2 to 3 days to thaw in a refrigerator, so your schedule should take this into account. Thawing frozen foods over 3 lbs. as part of the cooking process is not normally practical because the outside of the meat will burn before the inside completely thaws.
Never thaw meat at room temperature as bacteria can grow on the thawing outer surfaces and spoilage can occur.
Q. What are the important rules concerning personal hygiene?
A. Always wash your hands after using the toilet; use plenty of soap and hot water. Keep your body and clothes clean. Use a fingernail file, and use a hair net or cap to keep your hair out of food.
Q. What are the important rules concerning hands?
A. Don’t contaminate food and food utensils by unnecessary handling. Keep your hands away from hair and face while handling and serving food.
Q. What should you do if you are ill?
A. When you are ill, notify the manager of your condition and stay home. Be especially careful about boils, carbuncles, sores, rashes, and other skin eruptions. They should be medicated, and if they persist, they should be treated by a physician.
Q. What should dishwasher temperatures be?
A. Hot water temperature for standard dishwasher sanitization should be set at a minimum of 180§ F. Be sure the dishwasher is supplied with plenty of soap at all times, and that wash water is changed frequently to keep it clean and always hot. If a chemical sanitizing dishmachine is used, the temperature should be 140§ F. to facilitate cleaning and proper dying. A chemical test kit and larger dish-drying area is required with this machine.
Q. In a small restaurant operation without a dishwashing machine, what is the best way to sanitize dishes?
A. Dishes that are manually washed should be rinsed off and sanitized by submerging for at least one minute in 170§ F. water using trays or baskets with handles, then left to air dry. Sanitizing may also be done by using a mixture of bleach and water at 70§ F-- the bleach mixture is one teaspoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water.
Q. How often should meat slicers and cutting boards be cleaned?
A. Depending on usage, clean and sanitize with quaternary ammonia a minimum of twice a day. Also clean and sanitize between cutting raw and cooked products.
Q. Concerning kitchen equipment, what should a maintenance and cleaning schedule include?
A. A sanitary maintenance and cleaning schedule for each piece of kitchen equipment should include what, when and how to clean; what to use to clean; proper storage; and very importantly, "who" is to clean the equipment.
Q. What is the basic rule concerning food storage?
A. All exposed food should be covered and stored at least 18 inches above the floor, and on clean racks or other clean surfaces in such a manner as to be protected from splash and other contamination.
Q. What about storing canned foods and bottled goods?
A. Canned food and bottled goods should be stored a minimum of 12 inches above the floor to protect against splashes, rodents, and insect harborage.
Q. What is the most effective way of controlling cockroaches?
A. Cleanliness is the first line of attack. Never leave dirty dishes nor uncovered food out overnight. Make sure all work surfaces are clean to sight and touch before closing time.
Never use contact-type paper or other shelf papers as cockroaches like the glue, and the paper provides them with a place to hide.
If a restaurant or food service area has a cockroach infestation, a professional exterminator should be employed. Professional exterminators know the safe methods and insecticides to use to eradicate roaches -- this is especially important concerning food preparation and service areas.
Q. What about rest room care?
A. To meet the consumer’s expectations, the rest rooms should be clean; floors washed; mirrors sparkling; soap and hand towels on hand.
Q. What about outside restaurant appearance?
A. Restaurant appearance on the outside is important. The physical plant should look clean and freshly painted; signs lighted and legible; parking lot uncluttered and inviting; and adequate lighting at doors and exits should be provided.
Remember! First appearance are important--the outside of your restaurant should say, "Welcome"!
Q. What really brings the customers back:
A. A study done by the National Restaurant Association cites cleanliness of the restaurant as the Number One customer concern. Other considerations were tasty food, reasonable prices, and good service.
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For more information or other questions concerning food preparation and protection, CONTACT your local director of health or sanitarian serving your city or town.
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