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UF Extension To Offer Food Service Food Safety Training Program

GAINESVILLE—The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has joined the Florida Restaurant Association (FRA) to offer food safety training classes throughout the state.

The program, taught by county faculty from the Cooperative Extension Service and held at county extension offices, will give food handlers the opportunity to learn the most important aspects of food safety through a three-hour program. The program will prepare them to take the state food handler’s certification exam, which will be offered immediately following the program.

UF/IFAS Associate Professor Mark Tamplin, a food safety expert, has joined forces with UF/IFAS food service specialist Michael Lynch, a former executive chef, and other specialists to develop materials for the course that are relevant for the food industry. Together, they have created a new reference manual and video that makes the course both interesting and informative for Florida’s food service industry, Tamplin said.

“There are few resources on the market that are user-friendly,” Tamplin said. “Our program hopes to fill that niche. The state’s regulations and standards for food-handlers are increasing and we want to offer a strong program and make it available and accessible to food service workers around the state, whether they are working in restaurants, congregate living facilities, daycare centers, food stores, or any places that serve food.”

UF/IFAS county extension faculty are working with the FRA to get familiar with the food industry, as well as with county food inspectors and the three primary agencies that regulate foods, the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), HRS and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).Under a new law created by the Florida Legislature this year, all restaurant personnel must be trained in safe food-handling, Tamplin said. DBPR regulations also require that at least one person at each restaurant be tested and certified. DACS will soon require a food certification test for stores that prepare food.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a training program in every county,” Tamplin said.

For more information about the program, please call 1-888- 2EATSAFE.