Being a food manager is a delicate task which by any standards should not be taken lightly. This is because primary task of a food manager is ensuring that the food served to customers is safe for consumption. This goes a long way in preventing the spread of food borne illnesses. According to the Food and Drugs Act Model Food Code, a food borne disease outbreak is defined as the occurrence of similar illnesses in a group of people that is as a result of consuming common food. According to recent statistics, approximately 76 million illnesses and 5,000 deaths in the United States are as a result of food borne illnesses. In addition, 325,000 American are hospitalized as a result of food consumed in a food outlet. According to estimates from experts, food borne illnesses cost the United States between 10 and 83 billion dollars annually (Davis, 1998).
From these statistics it is evident that food safety should not be taken lightly. In several jurisdictions in the United States, food managers must be certified by State Department of Health and presented with a certificate which authorizes them to act as food managers in food outlets. This certification is aimed at ensuring that among other things that food safety measures are adhered to in order to mitigate the spread of food borne illnesses (Davis, 1998). Furthermore, officials from the health department carry out inspections regularly on food outlets to ensure that food safety standards are being met by food managers certified by the State’s Health Department.
Food Managers plan, organize, and direct the food service operations in establishments such as restaurants, hospitals, campus residence hall and cafeterias besides performing other related duties as stipulated in their employment contracts. The duties of a certified food manager should be well defined. To begin with, a food manager should ensure that the hazards a food establishment might be exposed to in its daily operations are identified and measures are taken to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence is minimized or eliminated altogether. He or she is also responsible of coming up with a framework of policies and procedures that are aimed at preventing food borne illnesses. It is the duty of the food manager to ensure that employees are well trained or that there is at least one well trained individual who is present during food preparation to ensure that food safety codes are enforced (Davis, 1998). It is also the duty of the food manager to personally undertake inspections of day to day operations regularly in order to ensure that the framework of food safety policies and procedures are being followed to the letter.
Under the state food laws, it is mandatory for food establishments to have a person in charge of enforcing food safety laws during hours of operations. The food code also requires that the person demonstrates full knowledge of: food borne disease prevention, the requirements of the food code and the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The best way to demonstrate the required level of knowledge is by complying with the food code fully right from the onset. This is critical especially during routine inspection by the health department officials. If no violations arise, then the food manager has demonstrated full knowledge of the food code. Another way of demonstrating knowledge of the food code is by being a certified food manager. This entails undertaking and passing an accredited certified food manger course. Finally, one can also demonstrate knowledge of the food code by answering the questions asked by the inspector correctly (Davis, 1998). This does not mean that the inspector will carry a questionnaire during inspection. On the other hand, the food manager should be able to respond to random questions asked by the inspector during the inspection.
HACCP on the other hand, takes a preventative systematic approach to food and pharmaceutical safety by addressing physical, chemical and biological hazards. The aim of HACCP is to eliminate the process of inspecting the food after preparation by taking precautionary measures before hand. HAACP is therefore used in the food industry to identify and eliminate food safety hazards in addition to enforcing Critical Control Points (CCP’s) so as to minimize or eliminate the risk of food safety hazards (Davis, 1998).
Apart from the strict measures that the state authorities require for one to be a certified food manager, the job can be interesting as well as rewarding with numerous opportunities. Food mangers have the opportunity to work in some of the most thrilling and fascinating environments. This can vary from high class restaurants to luxury resorts in exotic locations where food managers work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure high quality standards are met. Food management offers a challenging yet rewarding exciting career in hotel or restaurant management especially for people who are keen with details..
Being a food manager is more of a lifestyle than a job. The job entails long working hours where one may be required to dedicate from 50 to 80 working hours per week with high stress levels especially during peak seasons. However just like any other job once you get used to it, the career is very interesting. It is important, as a food manger, to get acquainted with prospective employers before taking up a job offer. This may involve asking the employer how long they have been in the business, their prospects for growth, if there are any manager training programs available and if there exists any opportunities for career advancement (Davis, 1998). Franchises offer great opportunities for starters due to the fact that they have in house training programs and their remuneration is also considerable.
When joining the food management industry it is important to decide which sector to specialize in. There are several options available including the restaurant industry, hotel industry, fast food outlets and hospitals. There is also great difference in the fast food, fine dining, family style dining and a sports bar or a restaurant environment. These environments have different clientele and different working conditions with different demands. It is therefore upon the individual to choose the most suitable environment and which will enable the individual to have a fulfilling career. With the rapid increase in the number people traveling all over the world, the demand for top of the range hotel and restaurant services is also on the rise. This has also translated to an increase in the demand for food managers worldwide. This means that the prospects of the career are on the rise and this means better pay as well as myriad of opportunities for career advancement.
Davis B., Lockwood A. & Stone S. Food and Beverage Management. 3rd Edition. Butterworth-Heinemann. 1998.