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Enhanced Food Handlers Certification Offered to Address COVID-19 Concerns

Successfully re-opening our local economy is dependent upon instilling consumer confidence. Customers and employees want to return to their pre-COVID activities but need reassurances that returning to work and conducting errands around town will not get them sick and that dining at their local restaurants will not cause them harm.

Once customers understand that protective and effective health measures are in place, they will be able to overcome their fears and anxieties and resume typical behaviors. People know that COVID-19 is still present, and they want to see proof that new protective measures are in place.

Restaurant operators may find identifying, understanding and implementing effective health measures for businesses daunting. They may be doing whatever they can to make their business safe for staff and customers. The problem with this approach is that it lacks standardization, consistency and transparency. This arbitrary method does not provide an approved training course or accreditation, and therefore doesn’t increase consumer confidence.

To help our business community adhere to the best safety practices while instilling needed confidence, Coconino County Health and Human Services and Northern Arizona University have collaborated to provide the Enhance Food Handler’s Certification for use by those businesses and employees within the food service sector. This recommended training module augments existing Food Handler and Food Manager Certifications and addresses the health concerns directly related to COVID-19.

The Enhanced Food Handler’s training and testing is free for employees and free for businesses that would like to be Certified COVID AWARE. Businesses displaying the Certified COVID AWARE emblem on their premises have a staff member who has completed the online training and passed the latest test designed to prevent the spread of the virus. The training and test is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) guidance. The Enhanced Food Handler Certification is free to all holders of a Coconino County Food Handlers Certification, and for a period of time, free to all businesses.

To access the Enhanced Food Handler’s Certification training program, go to https://coconino.az.gov/2397/CCHHS-Enhanced-Food-Handlers-Cert.

The Enhanced Food Handler’s Certification program is highly recommended and congruent with Arizona Governor’s Executive orders and Requirements for Restaurants and Bars providing dine-in services issued on June 18. This training also reinforces local municipalities’ decisions and executive orders relevant to conducting business in the Food Service Industry.

The Certified COVID AWARE emblem is a message to staff and customers that the food establishment values the safety of people and has committed to following enhanced safety procedures during the Covid-19 pandemic. FBN

By Chris Pasterz

Chris Vasquez Pasterz is the economic development manager for Coconino County.

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