Jennifer Jackson of Anne Arundel County Maryland, Department of Aging and Disabilities, shares a BAC Fighter success story from the Older Americans Month Health and Wellness Fair they attended.
Her department set up a table on food safety which included Chelsea the Chicken, a cantaloupe cleaning demonstration, and their Food Safety Trivia Wheel.
An older couple approached their display and spun the Food Safety Trivia Wheel. Jennifer read their trivia question: “During a summer picnic, how long can food be left out before it needs to be refrigerated or thrown away?” The husband answered and said that he thought food could be left out for six hours!
After explaining the correct answer (found on The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Chill” handout), he exclaimed, “So, that’s why we all got sick during that trip to the amusement park!”
It turns out that he and his family planned a trip to an amusement park and packed a cooler of barbecue chicken to eat for lunch. The chicken was left in the cooler all day and no one checked to make sure that the temperature was kept out of the danger zone. After eating the chicken for lunch, everyone in his group suffered a bout of food poisoning. He and his wife told me that they would make sure they packed food safely in the future!
Assisted Living Program
Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities
BAC Fighter Jean Bridges of Memphis sent us this inspiring story of her employee, “Jeremy.”
In June of 2014, her organization started its’ USDA Summer Food Service Program, serving a free nutritious lunch and snack to more than 2,000 kids a day. They needed to hire and train staff on safe food handling and preparation.
Seventeen year old “Jeremy” was working at a fast food establishment when he came to apply for a food service position. During his interview, he successfully answered all of the food safety questions. He was hired on the spot. Jeremy was an ideal employee in many ways: he arrived at the food preparation site on time and ready to work. During his first week, Jean observed him to be good-natured, motivated, hardworking, and willing to help co-workers.
But Too Many Food Safety “Minuses”
But Jean also observed and addressed some downsides to Jeremy’s habits:
She constantly had to remind him to watch out for cross-contamination. Jeremy was recovering from a cold and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. He would pull up his pants, and have to be reminded to wash his hands and put on new gloves. He was a cigarette smoker and had to be reminded to wash his hands after a restroom or smoke break. Jean seemed to be constantly asking him to go wash his hands.
Jeremy Had to Go
Jean discussed Jeremy’s work performance regarding food safety with her board of directors. It was a tough decision, since he was a good worker, but his performance did not meet the program’s high food safety standards. Jeremy was terminated.
News traveled fast to Jeremy’s co-workers. They were devastated! To help keep morale high, Jean scheduled a food safety training class the following Saturday for the staff, and Jeremy was invited to attend. The class reviewed safe food handling best practices and the potential results of poor food handling, especially since the underserved kids in their program were especially at risk for food borne illness. The class stressed that it was the personal responsibility of each worker to ensure food safety and made it clear that staff must not only learn but put into practice what they learn!
Jean summed up the lesson: Poor food safety practices could result in the death of a hungry child, grateful for a meal!
Jeremy Rides Again!
This time, the teaching “sunk in” for Jeremy. With tears in his eyes he apologized and pleaded for a second chance. Jeremy was given another chance to contribute his efforts to the successful and food safe child feeding program.
Where’s My Boy?
Near the end of the summer program, Jean met Jeremy’s mother. She yelled from across the street “Ms. Jean I need to talk to you!” She was clearly excited. She asked, “What did you do to my boy?” She told Jean that since working with food program Jeremy had become more conscientious when cleaning, handling food, and cooking. He was even careful to put raw meat and lettuce on separate shelves in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. “He now cleans up after cooking. I even caught him peeking around the corner to see if I washed my hands before getting a beverage out the refrigerator,” she said. “He’s going overboard. What did you do, where’s my boy?”
Now Jeremy’s the Teacher
Markova Reed of CBS Channel 3 Memphis and host of the show “Bright Spot”, heard about the success of the program. She contacted Jean for an interview. Ms. Reed was particularly interested in the program’s emphasis on food safety. The cameraman asked how they managed to keep all eight sites clean, and a worker responded “we try and prevent foodborne illnesses.” Then Jeremy chimed in: “We told the kids to say please and thank you and they had to use the hand sanitizer placed on the table, and discard empty bags in the trash after they finished their lunch.”
Food Safety Success
Jean sums up her experience, “This has led to my becoming an avid BAC Fighter, modifying our focus and organization name to “We Fight BAC, Inc.” That’s my success story!”
Jean Bridges, MPA, MBA, MPM
Executive Director, We Fight BAC, Inc.
P.O. Box 750784, Memphis, TN 38175
Great! Unique way to present info!
Fun and kept my attention for the whole time!
Very entertaining as well as informational.
I teach food safety/cooking classes at the center for independent living and this will be very helpful.
The department’s Sarah Leach used the clever Poo Fighters Band Tour theme to weave together training modules for instructors of certified food manager courses:
*The Band – human and economic burden, pathogen biology, symptoms, treatment
* Event Staff – foodborne illness risk factors, person in charge/certified food manager roles
* Poo Fighters Diarrhea & Vomit Tour – foodborne illness hotline, number of outbreaks
* Classic Hits – historic or well-known outbreaks
* New Releases – recent outbreaks
* Summary, Q & A – review and extend learning, self-correct and discuss quiz
Attendees acquired resources and skills for educating colleagues and the public on the topics of foodborne illness reporting and investigation in Minnesota. Sessions improved knowledge of foodborne illness and dispelled myths about transmission. The presentations used real-life examples from familiar settings to bring scientific facts and regulatory requirements to life.
Sarah Leach is the creator and “band” promoter of the “Poo Fighters” Tour. She is also a Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian, and the Principal State Food Manager Certification Program Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health. Want to learn more about doing a band tour in your community? Contact Sarah at Sarah.Leach@state.mn.us
Jennifer Jackson is a BAC Fighter with Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities in Annapolis, Maryland. Their newsletters, which contain food safety tips, reach an estimated 12,000 family members, caregivers, managers, nurses, and assisted living facilities.
The department also has active and creative food safety trainings for area caregivers, managers, delegating nurses, and other staff who work in assisted living facilities throughout the county, reaching about fifty each year with science-based food safety information.
One of the “stars” of the trainings is Chelsea the Chicken, a bikini clad rubber chicken who is “a diva that doesn’t like to get her swimsuit wet”. This little prop helps to bring home the message of not washing poultry in the sink.
One of the participants in the training was Abdul Abdullah, owner of two assisted living facilities in their county. Abdul said the training confirmed for him that washing poultry was not needed and actually increased food safety risk. He had heard this before but it wasn’t until he came to the training that it was validated for him with clear, science-based information. Now he confidently shares this information with his staff and with his family members at home.