Food Safety Manager – A Day in the Life
According to the CDC, there are more than 250 identified food-borne diseases. Most of those are infections caused by bacteria, although some are parasites or viruses. Unfortunately, 48 million people fall ill each year from foodborne illnesses. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Proper food handling procedures and vigilant food safety managers at all steps of the food chain can help ensure that the food that helps keep consumers healthy and safe.
Food safety managers work anywhere there is food. This can include restaurants, hospitals, food production facilities, schools, and hotels. Their primary job is to ensure that food is safe for consumers. To accomplish this, they must know and abide by all local, state, and federal food safety laws, monitor food handling procedures in their establishment, train staff, and perform audits. This is a busy job with many moving parts, so food safety managers must be adept at staying ahead of the game.
Wages for food safety managers can vary based on their actual job description, duties, and place of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021), those who work primarily as food service managers earn an average of $59,440 per year, while those who work as occupational health and safety specialists and technicians earn $74,870 per year.
Continue reading to learn more about a day in the life of a food service manager, including their work environment, teams they work with, necessary skills, and certification.
Work Environment of Food Safety Managers
While at first, it may be easy to assume that food safety managers only work in restaurants, they in fact can work anywhere there is food. Places of employment include grocery stores, hospitals, food manufacturing facilities, restaurants, and schools. The work environment will vary based on the food safety managers’ facility. Some employers may provide food safety managers with an office and they may have more administrative duties and oversight, while others may not even have a desk and assume a very hands-on role in ensuring that food safety standards are upheld.
Food Safety Manager Team Members
Most food establishments cannot run with just one person unless they are very small. Rather, efficient food preparation facilities and restaurants are run by teams of staff, including front of house, back of house, sous chefs, and managers. Food safety managers ensure that all staff (bussers, wait staff, cooks/chefs, dishwashers, hosts) abide by food safety regulations.
Typically food safety managers will report to the establishment owner, the restaurant manager, or senior-level staff for the facility where they work. In some establishments, it is not uncommon for staff to wear several hats, and the food safety manager may even be the restaurant manager.
The best food safety managers will work with the staff as a team and help them succeed, rather than act like a ruling force giving orders. Training staff is essential to a food safety manager’s job, and the better they do that, the smoother their team will run.
Daily Responsibilities of Food Safety Manager
Food safety in an establishment is the responsibility of the food safety manager. Not only does this help guarantee that patrons won’t get sick, but it can also help reduce food waste and maintain a high standard in a restaurant. Day-to-day duties can vary based on the size of an establishment, but typical responsibilities will include:
- Training employees on proper food handling techniques
- Maintaining proper documentation of all food safety procedures
- Checking temperatures and dates on food
- Monitoring temperatures in refrigerators and freezers
- Writing food safety protocols
- Understanding and implementing all local, state, and federal food safety laws
- Evaluating the quality of food products brought into the establishment
- Conducting safety audits
- Responding to any food safety-related complaints from staff or patrons
Required Skills & Knowledge of Food Safety Manager
While food safety managers can learn some of the required skills and knowledge through on-the-job training, it is essential that they complete specialized training to understand some of the nuanced and technical parts of this job. For example, there are specific rules about how long food can be held at a given temperature or how food can be stored next to other foods that can only come from completing a course.
Certification & Licensure for Food Safety Manager
Food safety manager certification and licensure requirements vary by state. Some states may not require a food safety manager certification at all, instead only requiring that at all times there must be someone on staff with a food safety training card. Other states may require every staff member to have a food handling card and for a manager to have passed a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) training program or exam.
The number of hours required to become a CFPM will vary by state but is typically between eight and 15 hours. After completing the training course, candidates will sit for the required exam. Most programs allow students to take their exams online, with or without a proctor, depending on state requirements.
Topics covered in a CFPM course can include:
- Ensuring personal hygiene
- Managing food holding times and temperatures
- Preventing contamination, cross-contamination, and cross-contact
- Managing cooking times and temperatures
- Monitoring the flow of foods
- Actively managing controls in a food establishment
- Managing the physical food establishment/equipment design and maintenance
- Managing cleaning and sanitizing activities
There are several food safety manager certification agencies across the country. Candidates should check with their local Environmental Health or Food and Sanitation department to ensure they take the appropriate course.
At a minimum, applicants should ensure the program they are completing is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as this guarantees a minimum level of quality and a strong likelihood that the program will be accepted by regulating authorities. Organizations that offer ANSI-accredited food safety manager certification include:
- 360training.com, Inc.
- National Registry of Food Safety Professionals
- National Restaurant Association
- Prometric Inc.
- The Always Food Safe Company, LLC