There are five food-borne illness risk factors that are most often responsible for food-borne illness outbreaks. They are:

  • Improper cooking temperatures of food
  • Improper holding temperatures of foods known as TCS foods - these are foods that must be held at specific temperatures to avoid being adulterated
  • Dirty and/or contaminated utensils and equipment
  • Poor employee health and hygiene
  • Food obtained from unsafe/unapproved sources

When food is prepared by either a licensed establishment or in a private residence, if one or more of these risk factors is present, the risk of a food-borne illness outbreak greatly increases. If any of the risk factors are observed in a food facility, immediate corrections must be made to protect public health. Often the correct action is to destroy the food products to minimize the risk. "When in doubt, throw it out!" is common sense guidance when it comes to food safety.

Some types of food have a higher potential to support the growth of pathogenic bacteria. These foods are referred to as TCS foods (Time/temperature Control for food Safety). These foods must be kept hot (135 degrees F or hotter) or cold (41 degrees or colder).

Some examples of TCS foods include raw or cooked animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs; heat treated plant foods such as cooked vegetables and baked potatoes; cut melons, raw bean sprouts, cut tomatoes, cut leafy greens, and garlic-in-oil that has not been acidified.

There are many types of foods that are refrigerated but are not considered TCS, instead they are refrigerated for quality, not for food safety.

 Certified Food Protection Manager

A Certified Food Protection Manager(CFPM) position is required in retail food establishments unless specifically exempt. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) administers the Minnesota CFPM program for the MDH, the MDA, and delegated agencies. Approved CFPM training courses for initial and renewal certification are offered by many private companies, community and technical colleges, and some delegated agencies. The MDH does not offer training but does approve trainers and courses. You can search for initial courses, exams, and continuing education online through the links below.