Food Safety and Sanitation in Lethbridge
Safety in Food Establishments
All food establishments in Alberta are covered by the Public Health Act on Food Regulation, specifically act 31. The act requires that employees trained in food safety are present when there is a certain number of staff members on duty in the establishment.
- If there are six or more staff members present, one trained supervisor has to be present.
- If there are five or less staff members present, one trained employee has to be present (the employee doesn’t have to be a supervisor)
Food is easily contaminated when the food handling process is unsafe. An unsafe process does not practice proper infection control and sanitation, leading to food contamination and a higher incidence of foodborne illness. Pathogens can end up on food, transferring from the food service worker to the product, or chemicals like pesticides can remain on produce that is not cleaned adequately.
If you have eaten something within the last three to six hours and start any of the symptoms listed below, assume that you have been infected with a foodborne illness.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Stomach cramps
- Bloody stool – bright red or tarry black
Practicing food safety
Food safety is involved in every step of the process of food handling. In a training course at Lethbridge, students learn about proper hand hygiene and sanitation of the work environment, among others. It is important that workplace remains safe in order for the food to remain safe. On a similar note, food should be properly cleaned before it is prepared.
All food service workers are highly encouraged by local health authorities to get food safety and sanitation training, though not everyone is required by the public health act to become certified. Service workers who work in high risk environments and handle high-risk food products might be required by the health authorities to become certified, even if there are more than enough employees trained in food safety (according to the act).
Getting started: Botulism
Clostridium botulinum is a dangerous bacterium that secretes a toxin. Even after the bacterium has died, the toxin remains on the food and become ingested by consumers. The toxin is common in expired canned goods, especially when they look rusted and have already expanded. When a person has consumed the toxin, he or she develops a condition known as Botulism.
There are, however, different kinds of botulism. Foodborne is one (1). (2) Infant botulism is characterized by ingestion of the bacterium’s spores, which inhabit the digestive tract of infants and release the toxin. (3) Wound botulism is characterized by infection of a wound with the bacterium. (4) Adult intestinal toxemia is the same as infant botulism, but happens instead to adults. The last kind is (5) iatrogenic botulism, which happens when a person overdoses on the botulin toxin.
As a consumer, always inspect the products you purchase thoroughly. As a food service worker, it is important to check all the products you serve or sell, or even the products you use to prepare something else (another food item).