Special to the Reporter

Statistics indicate that foodborne illness continues to be a health issue in the United States. Each year, one in four Americans will become sick, one in one thousand will be hospitalized, and five thousand will die due to a foodborne illness. Did you know that each food establishment permitted by the Texas Department of State Health Services must have at least one certified food manager?

Texas Cooperative Extension in Erath County is offering a one-day food manager certification training course and test. This program will be offered for $79 on November 3 at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center located at 1229 N. Hwy. 281, Stephenville. Cost includes training, materials, and the state food manager certification examination. Registration information and forms may be obtained online at http://foodsafety.tamu.edu.

This program is designed not only to prepare foodservice managers to pass the certification examination, but also to provide valuable education regarding the safe handling of food. Almost fifty cents of every dollar Americans spend on food is spent on meals prepared away from home. Therefore, careful attention to food safety will help keep customers safe and satisfied.

Foodborne illnesses are estimated to cost thousands of dollars in lost wages, insurance, and medical bills. With these statistics, knowledge of how to prevent foodborne illness is essential. The benefits of improved food safety include:

• Increased customer satisfaction

• Improved relationships with health officials

• Prevention of bad publicity and law suits due to foodborne illness

By attending the course, foodservice managers will learn about:

• Identifying potentially hazardous foods and common errors in food handling

• Preventing contamination and cross-contamination of food

• Teaching and encouraging personal hygiene for employees

• Complying with government regulations

• Maintaining clean utensils, equipment, and surroundings

• Controlling pests

Following simple food safety practices can prevent Foodborne illnesses. For additional information about the Food Manager Certification Training course of Texas Cooperative Extension, called “Food Safety: It’s Our Business,” call Beverly Greenhill, Hood and Somervell County Extension Agent, at 254-897-2289 or 817-579-3280 or e-mail b-greenhill@tamu.edu or Donna White, Erath County Extension Agent, at 254/965-1460 or e-mail dwhite@ag.tamu.edu. The registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 27, 2008.

For more information contact Beverly Greenhill at Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Somervell County, 254-897-2289 or b-greenhill@tamu.edu.