Anybody working in an industry that involves food should complete a food handling course.  This valuable course teaches employees and venue owners the correct procedures needed to properly manage food. From sanitisation to storage and everything in between, proper procedures are imperative to avoid illness and possibly death. In April of 2005, Monika Samaan and her family became ill after eating at KFC in Australia.  The family recovered but Monika slipped into a coma.  Six months later, Monika awoke but was left with severe brain damage to the left side of her brain.  Now unable to walk or talk, she is confined to a wheelchair and will need assistance for the rest of her life.  Her family sued KFC for millions and in April of 2012 and won their case.  This tragic story resulted from salmonella poisoning at an innocent night at a public eating establishment.  Salmonella, which is associated with chicken meat, is one of the important items that are addressed during a food handling course.  Learning how to properly prepare and care for poultry can save lives.  KFC has denied these allegations and plans to appeal their case.

Last year the United States of America had one of the worst Listeria outbreaks in recorded history.  The bacteria infection resulted from contaminated whole cantaloupes and the outbreak was widespread across America.  By December of 2011 there was 146 confirmed Listeria cases reported and 30 of them resulted with death.  Proper food handling techniques learned in a food handling course may have prevented this outbreak, as the food handling course educates people on proper food storage, minimizing the risk of bacteria growth.  It is believed that a large batch of cantaloupes were shipped from one farm to multiple states.  The bacteria affected all age groups but the largest infection count was on the elderly.  Listeriois may not be noticeable for weeks and this infection is also known to cause miscarriages in pregnant women.  The Listeria bacterium was traced back to a farm in Colorado.  The farm did a voluntary recall on all 300,000 cantaloupes and was also temporarily shut down during the recall and investigation.  In September a lawsuit was filed by one of the initial food poising victims against the farm and against Walmart for selling unsafe food.  An investigation is being conducted into the auditor training and how audits are conducted.

Not all food incidents are unintended. In 2008, melamine was added to dairy products in China to increase the appearance of protein in the foods.  This scandal resulted in six infants dying from kidney stones and a staggering 860 hospitalised babies. During a food handing course, the differences between different types of food procedures are covered.  Improper food additives such as melamine, cannot be properly digested by the human body.  The result is kidney stones and other illnesses.  An investigation into this scandal resulted with criminal prosecution.  Two people received the death sentence, one received a suspended death sentence, three were sentenced to life in jail and two receive 15 year jail terms.  

From fast food eateries to grocery markets, people put their lives into the hands of those that prepare and supply their food.  A food handling course can mean the difference between life and death.  Proper education can save lives. The next time you are in a public food venue, ask management how many employees have been taken a food handing course, then ask yourself, “is it safe here?”