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Jefferson Co. to require photo IDs for food service workers

November 24, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Beginning Jan. 1, food service workers in Jefferson County will be required to wear a health department-issued photo badge that will double as the food-handling card they are already required to have.

The new badge system will make it easier to determine if workers at more than 400 food-service businesses comply with the county’s food-handling training requirements, according to Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Amy Jones.

The new badge system was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Health last year, and officials have been working with businesses to gradually implement it since then, Jones said. Each badge costs the employer or employee $10 and must be renewed annually like the current food-handling card, Jones said.

Workers in food service in Berkeley County and in Washington County, Md., are not required to obtain a food-handling card, but the issue has been discussed in both counties, officials said.

Berkeley County Health Department Administrator Bill Kearns, who was unaware of Jefferson County’s new badge system, said managers and supervisors of more than 600 food-service establishments in Berkeley County are required to take annual training to obtain a permit to operate.

“It’s the responsibility of the manager to (then) train the other staff,” Kearns said.

Food-service workers in Berkeley County have not been required by the county’s health department to obtain a food-handling card for about 20 years, Kearns estimated.

In Washington County, operators of food-service establishments have to submit a food-safety plan, but food-handling cards are not required for workers under state guidelines, which the county follows, according to Ryan Seavolt, a food-services supervisor with the Washington County Health Department.

In Pennsylvania, one supervisor at each food facility is required to become certified in food safety and sanitation by taking a nationally recognized food-certification class and obtaining a completion certificate.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Samantha Elliott Krepps provided The Herald-Mail with a copy of the law governing certification.

“The certification training may be obtained through classroom, computer-based, combination home study/classroom or home study,” the law reads.

“The act does not require the certified person to be on premises during all hours of business, but does require that they be available during all hours of operation. When in the facility, the certified supervisory employee is the person in charge,” Krepps wrote in an email.

New establishments have 90 days to comply with the law, Krepps said.

Jones said businesses in Jefferson County have been supportive of the new food-handling card system and agreed that the added visibility of wearing the badge might give the public some assurance that food-service workers have received appropriate training.

The training has been provided via the health department’s website for the last two or three years, Jones said.

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Heather L. Morgan was unaware of the new badge system when contacted recently, but said for every new rule or regulation, “there has to be a happy medium” so the community remains business-friendly.

“Hopefully, they did get the word out (about this change),” Morgan said.

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