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DHS news release

July 8, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contacts: Eric Pippert (503) 731-4012
Sonja Svenson (503) 947-1243

New agreement enhances food safety training for child care providers

Improving food safety in child care facilities and streamlining food handler training and certification of providers is the goal of a new intergovernmental agreement between the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Oregon Employment Department's Child Care Division (CCD).

"A childcare care setting is quite different from a restaurant," said Eric Pippert, foodborne illness prevention manager in DHS. "Under this new arrangement, child care providers learn food safety on the job and the training is tailored to their work."

In the past, a child care provider's only option was to take required food handler classes offsite, and that training was targeted to restaurant workers. Local health departments or DHS handled the certification.

"This new arrangement helps us better serve our child care providers by offering additional training alternatives," said Sonja Svenson, program development officer at CCD. "It's a win-win for everyone."

In Oregon there are approximately 90,000 children in 6,000 regulated child care facilities, Svenson said.

Under the new agreement, providers can order training materials from their local Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Exams can be administered on-site and returned to the Resource and Referral Network for grading and certification. The training is offered in English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese.

Pippert said DHS helped develop the new training manual and exam, which focuses on the five known causes of foodborne illness: poor employee hygiene, improper cooking temperature, improper cooling and reheating, food from an unsafe source, and cross contamination—such as cutting lettuce on a board that was just used to prepare meat.

"Our mutual goal is to keep children healthy while they are in child care," said Pippert. "Proper food preparation techniques are effective in preventing the spread of communicable disease."

For more information about child care food safety training, contact Sonja Svenson, CCD at (503) 947-1243, Eric Pippert, DHS at (503) 731-4012 or Brent DeMoe, Oregon Child Care Resource and Referral Network at (503) 375-2644.