20 Questions With Explanations
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Failing to cook food correctly.
Purchasing food from unsafe sources.
All of these are common risk factors.
Holding food at incorrect temperatures.
The four most common causes of foodborne illness are time-temperature abuse, cross-contamination, poor personal hygiene, and, poor cleaning/sanitizing.
Time-temperature abuse occurs when foods are left in temperatures that allow microorganisms to grow and reproduce rapidly. Or when raw foods are not cooked to high enough temperatures to kill the microorganisms already within it.
Cross-contamination occurs when safe food comes into contact with something that is contaminated. Or when food that requires low-temperature cooking comes into contact with food that requires high-temperature cooking. Cross-contamination can also occur indirectly, such as using the same cutting board or utensils to chop vegetables and to carve poultry.
Good personal hygiene is basically a way of preventing cross-contamination or the spread of viruses from a sick person into the food.
Cleaning and sanitizing is important in dealing with both cross-contamination and poor personal hygiene.
It is important to purchase food from sources that also follow good safe food handling practices.
Sprouts and sprout seeds
A baked potato
Cooked (baked) bread is not a TCS food because it does not require time and temperature control for safety.
We cook food to kill the microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. We also limit the amount of time that foods are in temperatures that allow or encourage microorganisms to multiply.
But some foods do not need time and temperature control for safety and are not considered a TCS food.
Cooked bread is not a TCS food because the microorganisms have already been killed. Microorganisms also need moisture to multiply. Cooked bread does not contain much moisture and therefore does not need to be controlled with temperature.
Many dehydrated foods can be exposed to unsafe temperatures for long periods of time because they do not contain enough moisture for microorganisms to thrive.
Pests are allowed to enter the establishment.
A sick employee sneezes on ready-to-eat food.
A food handler does not wash their hands after using the restroom.
Unfinished food is re-served to another customer.
Feces (poop) contains many dangerous pathogens that must be controlled. Both human and animal feces is dangerous to humans.
In order for the pathogens in feces to make a person sick, it must enter the body. Usually, this happens orally (through the mouth). But it can also happen through the nose, eyes or open wounds.
There are many other ways that feces can spread throughout an operation, such as pests or cross-contamination. But the number one cause is poor personal hygiene. Unwashed hands touching the mouth or touching a surface that will then touch the mouth is the leading route.
Most pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and parasites can easily be killed with high temperatures. But some viruses cannot.
Viruses can be spread through food just like other pathogens, but cooking does not always kill it. This is another reason why food handlers must practice good personal hygiene and proper cleaning and sanitizing methods.
Most of the responsibility of preventing viruses from entering the food supply begins with the producers of food. Livestock and produce farmers, as well as the processing facilities for them, are heavily monitored and inspected. They are the first line of defense against viruses.
It is very important that your establishment purchases food from reputable suppliers for this reason.
But even if your supplies come from excellent sources, a careless employee can easily spread viruses by not practicing good personal hygiene.
Wet hands and arms
Apply soap and water
Wet hands and fingers
Apply an antibacterial solution
Handwashing is critical for food safety. Unclean hands are one of the biggest causes of foodborne illness.
This is the proper way to wash your hands:
1) Wet hands and arms with warm running water.
2) Apply soap and work up a good lather.
3) Vigorously scrub hands, arms, and fingertips for at least 10 to 15 seconds.
4) Rinse hands and arms thoroughly with warm running water.
5) Dry hands and arms with a single-use paper towel or hand dryer.
The entire handwashing process should take at least 20 seconds. All employees should be informed of the proper way to wash their hands.
Staff should always report when they are sick, but that doesn't always mean that they need to be excluded from the establishment. In some cases, they can be restricted from working with exposed food and food contact surfaces.
But if an employee has any of the following symptoms they should not be allowed into the operation:
Diarrhea: This is a sign that the employee may have a foodborne illness, also there is a risk of accidents that could spread the illness further.
Vomiting: This is also a sign that the employee may have a foodborne illness and like diarrhea, there is also a risk of accidents that could spread the illness further.
Jaundice: This is a symptom of Hepatitis A which is very infectious and can be spread through food. Also, it is caused by a virus that may not be killed by regular cooking methods. If an employee has jaundice, it should be reported to your regulatory authority.
A sore throat with fever: This is a symptom of foodborne illness and the employee should not be allowed into the operation.
An open wound that is bleeding or oozing: In this situation, the wound may be properly covered and the employee restricted to working with non-food contact surfaces. It's a case by case basis and the supervisor should make the call.
If the employee has symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting they should not be allowed to return to the establishment until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and have a written release from a medical practitioner.
Poor personal hygiene
A pest infestation
Cross-contamination is one of the biggest challenges to preventing foodborne illness.
Here's a simple explanation of cross-contamination. It can occur in any these scenarios:
1) Something that is dirty touches something that is clean.
2) Raw food that requires a lower temperature for cooking touches raw food that requires a higher temperature of cooking.
3) Raw food touches ready to eat food.
4) Food containing an allergen touches food that does not contain an allergen.
5) Any of the above examples also apply if a person or object touches one of them and then the same person or object touches another one of them (without being cleaned and sanitized between contact).
Color-coded cutting boards and utensils help to prevent #5 from occurring. A common mistake is using the same cutting board or utensils on foods that should not come into contact with each other.
It is wise for a food service establishment to have separate cutting boards and utensils for each type of food. These should be color-coded so that one color is only used for poultry, while another color is only used for ground meats, and so on.
135°F or higher
45°F or lower
41°F or lower
Outside of the "temperature danger zone"
Food should always be ordered from approved, reputable suppliers. And the food should be inspected upon delivery.
Cold TCS food should arrive at an air temperature of 41°F or lower.
The exceptions to this rule are milk, eggs, live shellfish, and shucked shellfish. These foods may be received at an air temperature of 45°F or lower. But these foods should be brought to an internal temperature of 41°F or lower within 4 hours.
Hot TCS food should be received at an air temperature of 135°F or higher.
Frozen food should be frozen solid when it is delivered. Visible ice crystals within the packaging are signs that the food has been time-temperature abused and the delivery should be rejected.
Near the center of the unit
As close to the food as possible
Near the warmest part of the unit
Near the coldest part of the unit
A cold storage unit must maintain a temperature of 41°F or lower.
If the warmest part of the unit is 41°F then you can be sure that the rest of the unit is also that temperature, or lower.
The warmest part of a cold storage unit is usually up high, near the door, and away from the evaporator fan.
Installing colored light fixtures
None of these
Using food additives or color additives
Using colored overwraps
If the internal temperature of the food is taken at least every 4 hours.
If the food is NOT being served to a high-risk population.
After receiving approval in advance by the regulatory authority.
A foodservice operation should never hold or display TCS food without temperature control.
A foodservice operation may hold or display TCS food without temperature control as long as they do the following:
• Prepare written procedures and get written approval in advance by their regulatory authority
• Maintain those procedures in the operation
• Make sure those procedures are made available to the regulatory authority on request
This topic has different guidelines in the current 7th Edition ServSafe Manager book. The guidelines in the book for this topic should be ignored because they have been revised through supplemental information due to changes in the FDA Food Code.
For the purpose of ServSafe Manager exams issued in 2019 and 2020, the information above should be noted.
The outdated information which has now been revised states that a foodservice operation may hold or display TCS food without temperature control if they only do so for a short time and if they do not serve high-risk populations. But this is no longer accurate.
135°F for 15 seconds
155°F for 17 seconds
165°F for less than 1 second
145°F for 15 seconds
Poultry requires a higher internal cooking temperature than most of the other TCS foods and should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. "Poultry" includes whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck.
The reason poultry must be cooked to a higher temperature is due to the threat of salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is a very hardy bacteria and can tolerate higher temperatures than other pathogens.
Some other foods also require a minimum internal cooking temperature of 165°F for the same reason, they are:
• Stuffing made with fish, meat, or poultry
• Stuffed meat, seafood, poultry, or pasta
• Dishes that include leftovers made from ingredients that are TCS foods
The "7th Edition ServSafe Manager" textbook (as well as some earlier editions) state that poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds.
However, due to updates in the FDA Food Code made after the publication of the 7th Edition, the amount of time has been reduced to "less than 1 second, or instantaneous". This information is available in 7th Edition ServSafe Manager books purchased after October 2017 in the form of supplements.
For all ServSafe Manager exams issued in 2019 and 2020, the internal cooking temperature of raw poultry (and the other 3 example foods above) should be memorized as "165°F for less than 1 second or instantaneous".
Fruits, vegetables, grains (rice, pasta), and legumes (beans, refried beans) that will be hot held for service should be cooked to a minimum of 135°F for any amount of time.
This question (or a similar question) appears often on the ServSafe Manager exam and is worth further understanding. The tricky part is where it says "hot held for service".
Oftentimes the foods that come from plants do not need to be cooked at all and can be left in the temperature danger zone for long periods.
But once they have been cooked, they become more susceptible to harboring pathogens. This is because their outer protection (skin or peel) has been damaged. And cooked food always requires hot holding.
And when some of these foods are sliced or cut open they become even more susceptible to harboring pathogens. In this case, if it will be longer than 4 hours before service, they should either be cold held or cooked first and then hot held.
Also, some plant foods (such as sprouts) should be cooked and hot held if they will be served to a high-risk population.
In most cases, the foods that come from plants do not need cooking at all. But if it's being hot held, that means that it has been cooked or needed to be cooked.
155°F for 15 seconds
165°F for any amount of time
135°F for 15 seconds
The food can be safely put into hot holding at any temperature
As long as the food was previously cooked and cooled properly, and as long as it will be immediately served, it does not need to be reheated.
But if the food will be hot-held before service, it needs to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
Hot-held and cold-held TCS foods have different allowances for the amount of time that they can remain in the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F) before they must be thrown out.
Hot-held TCS foods are only allowed to remain in the temperature danger zone for 4 hours.
But cold-held TCS foods are allowed to remain in the temperature danger zone for 6 hours.
This is because microorganisms multiply the most rapidly between the temperatures of 70°F - 125°F. Hot foods are likely to have been exposed to that temperature range longer than cold foods.
All of these
The concentration of cleaning and sanitizing agents
ServSafe recommends using an automatic dishwasher that measures water temperature, water pressure, and the concentrations of chemical cleaners and sanitizers.
And information about the correct settings for these measurements should be posted on the machine.
A channel running along the base of a flat top grill for collecting debris.
A designated container for properly disposing used oil from deep fryers.
A plumbing fixture that prevents grease buildup from blocking drains
The floor area near the deep fryers that can be hazardous, often causing slips and falls.
Grease buildup in drains is a common problem in foodservice operations. The buildup can clog the drain and cause contaminated water to flood the establishment.
A grease trap is a device that will capture grease and prevent it from clogging the drain.
If used, a grease trap should be installed by a licensed plumber and cleaned regularly according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Use a test kit
Closely follow the manufacturer's instructions
Use your judgment based on experience
Only use pre-mixed sanitizers
Several things can influence the effectiveness of chemical sanitizers. The most important are concentration, temperature, contact time, water hardness, and pH.
The chemical sanitizer that your operation uses should have test-strips provided by the manufacturer. Follow the instructions according to the manufacturer's recommendation to get the correct concentration for that sanitizing agent.
The manufacturer should also provide guidelines for temperature, contact time, water hardness, and pH. These guidelines should be followed closely.
Detergent and water - a rinse sprayer - sanitizing solution
Detergent and water - clean water - sanitizing solution
Sanitizing solution - detergent and water - clean water
Clean water - sanitizing solution - Detergent and water
When manually washing dishes you should use a 3 compartment sink. Each compartment should be filled with the correct agent in the order of the cleaning and sanitizing process.
1) Wash with the appropriate detergent and water.
2) Rinse with clean water.
3) Sanitize with an appropriate sanitizing solution.
This becomes much easier to recall during the ServSafe exam if you just memorize that sanitizing is always the last step before allowing the item to air-dry.
An electrical power outage
A sewage backup
All of these
All of these are considered to be an imminent health hazard because they pose a significant threat to health that needs to be corrected immediately.
When faced with one of these situations you must determine if there is a significant risk to the safety of the food. If you determine that the risk is significant, all food preparation and service must be stopped and your local regulatory authority must be notified.
After taking corrective action you will need written permission from your regulatory authority before you can resume food preparation and service.