Philadelphia moves toward food safety training for food workers

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Philadelphia is unique, in so many ways. From Old City with its cobblestone streets and many picturesque buildings, to the art district and diverse neighborhoods all around, this city is one of the most desirable places to live in the United States.

One of those most important ways that this city distinguishes itself is with its pride for its food.

But Philadelphia is different than other cities in how it cultivates its food industry: With the stroke of a pen, its city council approved a law in 2014 that requires employees in the city’s restaurant industry to have certain levels of training, certifications and qualifications.

Yes, mandatory training.

“This is the first of its kind in the United States,” says Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke . “If you don’t know your job, how can you serve your customer?”

Specialized courses in food safety, sanitation and sanitation, customer service, pest management, food preparation and more were required by law for all food service workers in the city. The requirement was to get passed within three years.

Everyone can attest to the difficulty of finding a job in the food industry; many restaurant workers have to go back to school to develop new skills that will help them make a living wage while being a good customer for their restaurants.

The process of getting training and certification started with each restaurant having to submit a proposal to the city council to demonstrate how they will train employees.

The restaurant has to do inspections of the assigned training schools, which in turn must receive evaluations from the city council. Inspections take place in person, via video or by mail.

How did Philadelphia’s health industry work?

This law is part of a larger effort toward achieving food safety standards at all stages of food production. The city’s new food safety rules take a look at the entire operation.

“It’s not just, ‘I will train you to take this pill’ — they do other things to get trained, too,” says Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

The Philadelphia restaurant industry needed this training, and the restaurant workers who were affected are glad they got it. Restaurant employees take basic food safety courses six hours a day, four times a week.

Emily, an employee at a food-serving restaurant, says she has learned a lot about food safety, including dealing with bugs and making sure all areas of the food-preparation station are clean and free of water.

At the same time, Emily says she and her coworkers have had to go back to school to pick up new skills like food preparation and working as a team.

“I went to culinary school, and I am certified,” she says. “I think it was a good thing to have to get more people trained.”

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