We all love to consume delicious food at our convenience, but have you ever imagined what it takes to get great tasting food from the kitchen to your table? It takes a team of hard-working people who ensure that the food does not only taste good, but is also hygienic and safe to consume. Restaurants work under regulations imposed by the health and safety laws of the state they are operating in.
One of such regulations is the need to have qualified supervisors in the kitchen. The state of Connecticut defines that a food establishment which is designated as either a class III or class IV is required to employ at least one Qualified Food Operator (also known as a Certified Food Manager) on-site. The regulation covers all establishments, such as one that is physically based in one location, an itinerant establishment, or a food catering establishment.
The food operator shall assume the role of the supervisor and monitor all the activities in the establishment’s kitchen operations. The role is not restricted to supervision; it also involves the training of staff that will be handling the food. As outlined by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, the staff must be trained in the following:
- Instruction in proper food temperatures
- Food protection
- Personal health and cleanliness
- Sanitation of the facility, equipment, supplies and utensils
The alternative person shall take charge in the absence of the food operator. The availability of an alternate is a must. The law grants 60 days respiration period for establishments to seek out another Qualified Food Operator or alternate in the event that the previous one leaves employment.
Let us show and explain you how to become a qualified food operator in Connecticut.
Why Do Establishments Need a Qualified Food Operator?
So why do food establishments need a qualified food operator in the first place? It is to prevent foodborne diseases. One of the major challenges for any eatery is to provide safe and hygienic food, and environment. Foodborne diseases occur from food contamination and our consumption of such contaminated food.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common indications of a foodborne disease come from gastrointestinal symptoms, but symptoms such as neurological, immunological, gynecological, multiorgan failure, and even cancer, can affect the individual.
It is crucial that for the safety of both the people working at the establishment, and its patrons, that the establishment is trained to deal with such situations.
For example, personnel handling food such as sandwiches, bread, salads, vegetables, and such, are required to wear gloves. Employees are expected to work only when healthy.
How to Become a Qualified Food Operator?
If wish to become a Qualified Food Operator, you will have to first get a certification. You will go through QFO training programs which will eventually certify you, based on the result.
American National Standards Institute and the Conference for Food Protection have approved and accredited examinations that seek to benefit individuals towards becoming a Qualified Food Operator. Following are the programs that are officially recognized by the ANSI:
- National Registry of Food Safety Professionals/Environmental Health Testing (NRFSP)
The difference between them comes down to personal preference, really. All three exams are accredited by the ANSI and recognized by the state of Connecticut. Although, you may want to check with an establishment if they prefer one program over another. ServSafe is the most popular and most expensive one out of the three. You can check out Qualitied Food Operator online training courses for your convenience.
Responsibilities of a Qualified Food Operator
As a Qualified Food Operator, you will possess knowledge and competency about the following:
- You can identify foodborne illness. The terminologies of foodborne illness, major causes of foodborne illness, recognize contaminated food, prevent food contamination, symptoms caused by foodborne illness.
- Food temperature and how it affects microorganisms
- How personal hygiene can affect food safety
- How to prevent food contamination
- How to clean and sanitize equipment and utensils
- Identify problems within the establishment that may affect the safety of customers
- Assess the establishment for potential for foodborne illness in food service. Make the establishment develop better standards, practices, policies, and train employees.
Certifying yourself as a Qualified Food Operator holds numerous benefits. You can apply for positions that are more managerial in nature, instead of working as a food server or chef. The more experience you have working as a manager that involves supervising and training others, the better career prospects will be there for you.