“Pride is pride not because it hates being wrong, but because it loves being wrong: To hate being wrong is to change your opinion when you are proven wrong; whereas pride, even when proven wrong, decides to go on being wrong.”
I am a part of many vending related Facebook groups. Some I just read and rarely comment. Others I comment often trying to clarify answers and actually help people learn and better their business. I even had one group ban me when I asked in a private message why they allowed illegal information encouraging tax fraud to remain unchallenged. They claim to be an “academy” for food vendors but if you won’t delete or correct illegal information , the only thing you are an “academy” for is failure.
This weekend I got into a debate over whether a food certification is required in certain states. Some states like Florida actually ask for the certification on their inspection form, making it clear the certification is required. Other states are very ambiguous as to whether the certification is required. One person quoted me an email from her inspector stating the certification is not required. Leaving that statement as absolute proof you need not be certified. EXCEPT while the certification is not required the very first thing on the inspection sheet for that state asks: “Person in charge present, demonstrates knowledge, and performs duties”.
How do you “demonstrate knowledge”? According to every FDA Code starting in 1997 (find them all here) and every code year including 2017 is a passage containing this:
And then it lists 17 different ways to demonstrate knowledge. This is the 1997 version. In 2017 that passage is worded:
And it goes on to list 17 areas for the questions. The inspector can ask as many as they want until satisfied the person in charge possesses enough knowledge to safely sell food.
Understand 48 out of 50 states base their code on the FDA model code(link). The only difference is which year they use. NY and CT are the outliers using their own codes. CT does require what they call a Qualified Food Operator and NY code says this:
Demonstrating knowledge is done by one of 3 ways as noted in the FDA Codes:
Asking your sanitarian “Does our state require Serv-Safe?” could get you an incomplete answer of “No, we do not require Serv-Safe”. Making you think “Oh yeah! No test for me!”, when the actual question should have been “Where do I get the training needed to meet knowledge demonstration requirement in our state’s food code?” That answer would be: “Take one of the courses and tests approved by our state and you can find those on our website.” The point here is asking the correct question gets you the right information.
Understand Serv-Safe is generically used to refer to training, testing and certification for becoming a Certified Food Manager. Your state may only accept a certification they offer, or they may accept several different companies that offer training and testing. However, rest assured you need training or your food vendor career will be a short one.
I have had a passion for helping people since an early age back in rural Kentucky. That passion grew into teaching and training managers and owners how to grow sales, increase profits, and retain guests. You’ll find a ton of information here about improving restaurant and food cart/trailer operations and profits. Got questions? Email me at Bill_Moore@live.com