Earlier in May, Jake and I started a kombucha tea subscription kit business, and we are in the process of sending out the first subscription kits. With all start-ups, there are going to be issues and potential downfalls for your business. Since this is a food based business, handling the food is a critical piece. In this post, I will briefly describe what I’m doing this week in an effort to become a Certified Food Manager. (FYI, the links below are not affiliate links – this post is purely informational.)
The Importance of Food Safety
Food safety is an important part of all of our lives. Unless we grow and eat our own food, we are exposed daily to the food safety practices of those individuals who grow, process, ship, store, prepare, cook, serve, and handle our foods. Food safety is not a perfect practice; eventually contaminated food products will make their way onto our tables. By keeping high standards in food safety practices, you can greatly reduce the frequency in which this occurs.
High standards in food safety provide many benefits. High standards help to:
- Enable customers to feel comfortable in the safety of the food product
- Provide an overall cleaner work environment
- Reduce lawsuits and criminal prosecutions caused by poor standards
By maintaining high food safety standards, lawsuits and criminal prosecutions are avoided and the food product you put out will be safe for your customers.
What’s the HOWLinfuse Issue?
The HOWLinfuse kombucha kit subscription kit has multiple items of dry food that we are going to send to our customers. From a cost perspective, we bought in bulk at wholesale prices. For example, we bought 9 lbs of dried strawberries for $247.50.
Obviously, we aren’t going to send a customer 9 lbs of dried strawberries – our recipe calls for a cup of them. As a result, we need to take our 9 lb bag and put the dried strawberries into smaller bags.
For food safety purposes, it’s not as easy as doing it in our personal kitchen. As a result, we are looking to rent out a commercial kitchen for a few hours a month. Many of the commercial kitchens required a laundry list of information and certifications. (See the image on the right.)
One of the requirements for renting a commercial kitchen is to have a copy of your Minnesota Food Manager Certificate. We had no idea what this was, but after some internal debate and research, we decided one of us getting the certificate would be the best long term decision.
Becoming a Certified Food Manager
The Minnesota Certified Food Manager (CFM) is a leader for the food establishment’s food safety team. The CFM is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as meeting specific training requirements, and helps reduce the risk of foodborne illness by demonstrating safe food handling practices and sharing food safety knowledge with the food establishment’s employees.
Minnesota food code requires one full-time Minnesota Certified Food Manager in most food establishments. You may choose to strengthen your establishment’s food safety team by having more than one CFM.
The CFM must have the knowledge, skills and abilities to complete the following duties:
- Identify any hazards in the daily operation of the food establishment.
- Develop and implement policies and procedures to prevent foodborne illness.
- Coordinate employee food safety training to ensure at least one person in charge is present whenever food is being prepared.
- Direct food preparation activities and take corrective action as needed, to protect the health of the consumer.
To become a CFM, you must perform training and pass a final exam. There are numerous online training courses to help you with your training.
Online Training Courses
In the state of Minnesota, there are a number of approved online training programs a person can go through to become a Certified Food Manager:
- ServSafe® (National Restaurant Association)
- Certified Food Safety Manager (National Registry of Food Safety Professionals®)
- Certified Professional Food Manager (Prometric)
- Learn2Serve Food Protection Manager® (360training)
- Above Training/StateFoodSafety.com™ (Certified Food Protection Manager Exam)
I choose the Learn2Serve Food Protection Manager®, as this was the best deal at $85.
My Certified Food Manager Training
The training course is 16 lessons long and each of theses lessons take about 45 minutes to complete. Given that I need to pass a test at the end of this training, I’ve been taking notes and studying at the end of each lesson to retain the information learned.
In the course, the following topics are covered:
- Food safety, its importance, and those who enforce it.
- Foodborne illness and its causes.
- Biological, physical, and chemical contamination.
- Techniques for preservation and temperature control.
- The importance of proper personal hygiene in the workplace.
- Implementation of appropriate procedures to receive and store food.
- Cleaning, sanitization, pest control, and facility design.
- The HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) system.
In the past 3 days, I’ve gone through 6 lessons in just under 5 hours. Each day, I’m looking to get done with 2 lessons so I can keep the ball rolling. Jake and I have 4 weeks to get our kits prepared, so the earlier I can get this done, the better!
I’m already through 6 lessons, and over the next week, I’m going to fully immerse myself in food safety. I’ve already learned a tremendous amount about cross-contamination, the appropriate ways to use temperature control with food, and the potential problems that can occur with poor food safety. With all things I’ve been doing in 2017, this is just another learning and growth experience. In January, if you would have told me I was going to become a Certified Food Manager, I would have laughed at you 🙂
Now back to studying…
Readers: Do you need any certifications for your business or work? Have those certifications been beneficial for you, in terms of compensation, new job titles, or personal knowledge growth?