Florida Department of Health helps Serve Safe students

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Florida Department of Health helps Serve Safe students

NOT KIDDING- Mr. Tom Kidder teaches sixth period about his job and Serve Safe in the real world.

NOT KIDDING- Mr. Tom Kidder teaches sixth period about his job and Serve Safe in the real world.

NOT KIDDING- Mr. Tom Kidder teaches sixth period about his job and Serve Safe in the real world.

NOT KIDDING- Mr. Tom Kidder teaches sixth period about his job and Serve Safe in the real world.

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Mr. Tom Kidder, a Florida Department of Health representative in Santa Rosa county, came to GBMS to teach Ms. Pam Lord’s sixth period about his job and Serve Safe. The lesson gave students a real world understanding about how Serve Safe is used.

Serve Safe is a course that teaches students, and even adults, how to keep food safe. At the end of the year students have the choice to take the official Serve Safe test. If students get a 75% or higher, they pass.

The basics to Serve Safe is FATTOM and controlling time and temperature. FATTOM stands for food, acidity, temperature, time, oxygen, and moisture. These are all things that should be paid attention in order to limit the growth of bacteria on foods.

Food- Bacteria, just like all other living things, need nutrients to survive. Nutrients can be found in food, especially TCS foods. TCS stands for time temperature control safety. TCS foods need to be in certain temperatures and can’t be left sitting out on the counter. They need to be in the refrigerator, freezer, or the oven. If they are left out in the open, bacteria will have more of a chance of growing and creating a foodborne illness.

Acidity- Bacteria grows better in foods with low pH levels. The pH scale measures acidity. It ranges from zero to 14. Zero is highly acidic, while 14 is highly alkaline, which means it’s barely acidic.

Temperature- Bacteria’s growth depends mostly on the temperature. Bacteria grows well in the temperature danger zone, a zone between 41 and 135-degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if food is in this temperature zone, bacteria will grow more rapidly, and chances of getting sick from the food is greater.

Time- Time is another factor that dictates the amount of bacteria growth. The more time in the temperature danger zone, the more bacteria, which means more chances to get sick.

Oxygen- Some bacteria need oxygen to grow, and of course it’s impossible to “hide” them from oxygen. But what someone can do to reduce number of bacteria, is put leftovers or TCS foods in airtight containers. Make sure to label the container about what date it’s been made, and what is in it. Once seven days passes, the food is not good anymore and needs to be thrown out.

Moisture- High levels of moisture contributes to bacteria growth. The amount of available moisture for bacteria growth in a food is called water activity. The scale ranges from zero to one, the higher the number, the more moisture.

The only characteristics of FATTOM that can be controlled are time and temperature. They are the keys to reducing bacteria levels in food. Remember: less bacteria. Less chances of food borne illness.

One of the jobs of Mr. Tom Kidder’s job is to inspect for things like FATTOM, in prisons, schools, and certain movie theaters. Some of the other things he inspects for are cleanliness and lighting.

Mr. Kidder uses special tools to help him with these jobs. To check the lighting, he uses a tool called a light meter.

It measures in “foot candles.” He places it on a surface, and measures the lighting. They must be at least 50-foot candles to meet regulations.  If lighting is too low, workers from that food operation won’t be able to see if there are bugs or if they need to clean up a spill, therefore affecting the quality of food and bacteria’s growth speed. 

THAT’S LIT- This Light Meter is used to measure lighting in “foot candles.” Mr.Kidder has used it many times before when inspecting food operations.

Another tool he uses is a Thermocouple. He uses it to measure how hot a dishwasher gets. The hotter the water that dishes are washed in, the more bacteria it kills. The temperature must be at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

DISH WASHER SAFE- Thermocouples are used to measure temperatures in a dish washer to see if it gets hot enough.

Not only does the dishwasher have to be a certain temperature, but the food as well. So, Mr. Kidder uses a more technical thermometer, called a Food Thermometer. To keep it from contaminating foods he cleans the needle with an alcohol wipe. He checks to make sure the TCS foods aren’t in the temperature danger zone.

He uses a flashlight to see in dark places for bugs, rats, and grime.

Mr. Kidder also uses Sanitizer Test Strips, which are to see if a sanitizer is safe for being a

SANITIZER SAFE- Sanitizer test strips are used to check if a sanitizer is safe enough to be on a food contact surface or not.

food contact surface- where food is placed, or where food touches (cutting board, plates, etc.). He’ll take a test strip and dip it in the sanitizer. Then he’ll compare the color of the strip to the chart on the back of the box, anything above 400 parts per million is toxic.

Serve Safe is important to know in the food service business. Should students learn Serve Safe? Ms. Lord says, “I think it’s a good idea. My thought is it helps them (students) understand how we need to be safe. It’s not just about cooking, but also cleaning.”

All of the information in the article is provided by Ms. Lord’s Serve Safe curriculum.

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