Whitesburg KY
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Food handlers must get training here

The Letcher County Health Department is requiring all restaurant employees who handle food to take a certification class and obtain a food handler card. Health department officials say the certification requirement has nothing to do with rumors and complaints targeted at local restaurants.

Anthony Garrett, senior environmentalist with the Letcher County Health Department, said the class will focus on preventing food-borne illnesses.

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that between 5,000 and 8,000 people a year die from food-borne illness,” said Garrett.

Garrett said poor practices of personnel hygiene, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse are three main areas that cause food-borne illnesses.

The lack of handwashing after using the restroom and then handling food is an example of poor personal hygiene.

Garrett said cross contamination occurs when people cut up raw meat and then use the same knife without washing it to cut up other foods like lettuce or carrots.

Time and temperature abuse occurs when refrigerated food is not stored at 45 degrees or cooler or when hot food is not stored at 145 degrees or hotter.

Garrett said this allows bacteria to keep growing.

To obtain a food handler card one must come to a class at the Letcher County Extension Office and watch a 55-minute video and pass a 25-question test. All restaurant managers must watch two videos and pass a 50-question test.

Food handling classes start August 25. To sign up for a class, call the Letcher County Health Department at 633-2945.

Restaurant employees and managers who handle food have until December 31 to take the class and become certified.

Garrett said that once everyone has taken the class, the health department will require a certified food manager to be on duty at all times.

“After we do these classes, I’m not going to cut anybody any slack,” said Garrett.

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