Local food establishments have a chance to show their customers that they really do come first by attending a food safety training seminar Sept. 25-26 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Texas Cooperative Extension-McCulloch County office, 114 West Main. The Food Protection Management Training Program is an effort of the Texas Cooperative Extension System in cooperation with the National Restaurant Association, Texas Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association and the Texas Department of Health. The program seeks to better educate food handlers to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Food managers who participate in the 15 hour course will receive in-depth training in all areas of food safety. The course will cover the latest information in food safety, including: personal hygiene; how to use food thermometers and keep temperature logs; how to store food safely; how to prepare, serve and hold food safely; and methods of cleaning and sanitizing. Food service establishments that participate in this program will receive numerous benefits. Good food safety practices provide a proactive defense against costs (legal fees, insurance, lost wages, medical claims) of a foodborne illness outbreak. Food service operations can increase the quality of their food and improve profitability by reducing waste with safe food storage and transportation. Also, those establishments under the Texas Department of Health’s jurisdiction will receive 10 percent reduction in license fees annually while the certification is in effect. Many public health jurisdictions in areas of Texas already require training. This training and certification is designed for managers of any establishments in Texas involved in preparing or serving food to customers including restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, nursing homes, school lunch programs, day care facilities, grocery stores, convenience stores and mobile vendors. Today, the public is very concerned about food safety issues. Eating out has become popular with almost 50 percent of the food dollar being spent away from home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 to 81 million people get sick and more than 10,000 related deaths occur due to food poisoning in the United States each year. Those who complete the course will receive certification from the National Restaurant Association. They also will qualify to join the Industry Council on Food Safety and to receive a decal to display in their window, which lets customers know the managers are certified in food safety. For further information, please contact Jane Holubec, County Extension Agent-Family Consumer Science, at 597-1295. Registration deadline is Friday, Sept. 14.