Health Department Considering All Food Workers Get Food Handler’s Permit

By Audrey Castoreno
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Some restaurant workers in Midland aren't making the grade when it comes to cleanliness.

The Health Department is not too happy about what they've uncovered in recent inspections.
From washing food to washing hands, some workers aren't even doing the basics. That's why the Health Department is looking at making them take mandatory training.

A booming economy is bringing more restaurants to the Tall City but it is also exposing some potentially dangerous health issues.

The Midland County Health Department is trying to make sure your next meal doesn't make you sick and is proposing that all restaurant workers go back to school.

The Department is considering making all workers get a food handlers permit.

"We find that we're educating and inspecting at the same time, so we see a need there. We see a gap there," City of Midland Health Manager, Celestino Garcia, said.

That gap means the department is seeing some of the same issues over and over, including workers not washing lettuce for fear it would wilt, wearing gloves means they don't have to wash their hands and not changing gloves when moving from raw to cooked items.

Garcia says those violations are common due to high turnover in the restaurant industry. His office also sees problems occur due to language barriers.

"We feel that we can help a little bit by insuring that an employee or employer, that person, he or she, has had some type of education," Garcia said.

Although this proposal is only in the draft stage, it's causing some concern among restaurant owners.

"I think there's issues regarding costs, how the training takes place, who's handling all the files of these employees. Understanding where we come from, when it's hard to get employees as it is and the turnover on employees, there's a lot of issues we need to discuss and I understand that it's early on, but we want to have a say so early on," Restaurant Owner and Texas Restaurant Association Member, Jerry Morales, said.

Details about how this will all work still needs to be ironed out.

The Health Department will be meeting Thursday with representatives from different restaurant associations.

At the earliest, the food handler's classes might happen next fall.