4 Tips to Avoid a Food Allergy Scare This Halloween


Halloween is a spooky time of year, but it is even spookier for children with food allergies. Candy and sweets can be a source of hidden food allergens, putting children with allergies at risk.

Candy often includes some of the 9 main food allergens such as milk, soy, wheat, tree nuts, eggs, and peanuts. It can be hard to tell whether or not an allergen is present, or even if there are small traces of it in any treat.

It is up to you to protect your child from experiencing an allergic reaction this time of year. Follow these tips to make Halloween safe, but still fun, for children with food allergies.

Have Non-Food Goodies

Have toys, stickers, or other non-food goodies available so that your child does not feel left out. You can also make these available to other trick-or-treaters who have food allergies so they can also join in on the fun while remaining safe.

Bring Your Own Snacks Along

When you are out an about trick-or-treating, bring your own snacks along that you know are safe for your child to eat. Implement a rule that they can’t eat the candy they receive trick-or-treating on the road and give them the candy that you know for sure is safe instead.

Carefully Read the Label

After Trick-or-Treating, sort through your child’s candy and read the labels thoroughly. It’s a good idea to know alternate names for food allergens in case they are hidden somewhere in the ingredients list.

Also check if the candy label says anything about being produced in the same facility as something your child is allergic to. It could contain small traces of the allergen, which could trigger an allergic reaction.

“Trade In” Unsafe Candy

Have candy or non-food treats that are safe for your child to eat ready so that they can “trade in” any candy containing allergens for something that won’t harm them and they will love.

Take Your Food Manager Certification Exam in Spanish

Exams can be nerve wrecking as you are preparing and studying the material. Another layer of added stress can be having to take the exam in your second language.

Always Food Safe has a Spanish version of our food manager course, and now offers a Spanish version of our food protection manager certification exam so that Spanish speakers can get certified entirely in their first language.

Having a course and test available in your first language helps not just with comprehension—it keeps learners more focused and motivated. Learners may also have prior knowledge in their native language that they can build off of and pick up new concepts easily.

Learn more about Always Food Safe’s online, video based manager training and exam, which now can be taken entirely in Spanish.

Tips on When to Throw Food Out

The USDA estimates that in America, $161 billion worth of food gets thrown out every year.

Correct storage procedures can prevent you from having to throw out so much food, but inevitably, you will have to toss some of your food. Knowing how long food can be stored and the physical signs that food has gone bad will ensure that you are not serving spoiled food and exposing your customers to pathogens that could lead to foodborne illnesses.

Food Storage

Knowing how long food can be stored or held before having to be discarded is an important part of FDA food code.

Refrigerate leftovers for 7 days max

FDA code states that prepared foods can be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days max. Be sure to properly label the date to ensure you know when to throw it out.

TCS foods left out more than 2 hours

Time and temperature controlled (TCS) foods are at a higher risk of developing a large amount of pathogenic bacteria when left in the temperature danger zone (41°F - 140°F) for longer than 2 hours. If a TCS food is left out for longer than that, discard it.

Past the use by date

Be sure to check the use by date before you use the food to see if it is still safe to consume.

Signs You Need to Throw Food Out

There are also physical signs that you should look out for. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to toss it.


Mold is an obvious sign that food has gone bad, but nevertheless be on the lookout for it.

Bad odor

Another more obvious sign, if food smells differently than it’s supposed to, it is time to throw it out.

Ice crystals

Ice crystals on frozen foods is a sign that the food has thawed and refroze numerous times, making it more susceptible to foodborne pathogens.


Whether it’s meat that is very dark or green, or yellowing vegetables, an off color could mean that it has gone bad.

Slimy film

Food that has suddenly become slimy is probably no good anymore.


Learn more food safety tips by taking our food handlers course.

Food Manager Certification Practice Exams Included with Always Food Safe Training

You’ve taken your food protection manager certification course, but now how do you prepare for the certification exam?

Taking a practice test is one of the most effective ways to prepare for your food manager certification exam. Studies have shown that students who have taken a practice test are able to recall information 22% more than those who had just studied.

Putting aside time to complete a practice test will show you what you know and what you need to study more of, as well as give you an idea of what the actual food protection manager exam will be like to help you feel more confident going into the exam.

Benefits of Taking a Food Protection Manager Practice Exam

Test Your Knowledge

When studying for your food manager exam, a practice test is a good way to see what you know. They can help you determine what information you already know and see if there any areas you need to study more before taking the actual exam.

Get Familiar with Types of Questions

Practice tests will include similar types of questions to the actual manager exam. From the practice exam, you can gauge the difficulty of the exam, as well as learn what topics come up.

Ease Anxiety

By taking a food manager practice test, you will feel more at ease knowing what to expect when you take the actual food protection manager exam.

Where to Find Practice Exams

Always Food Safe offers a free, complimentary food manager certification practice exam with their food protection manager course. It’s based off questions on the actual exam so that you can study and prepare yourself.

Sign up for our food protection manager certification program to get your complimentary practice exam.

Time and Temperature Control (TCS) Foods

Chef Checking Food Temperature

There are certain foods that create a better environment for bacteria to multiply. Time and temperature controlled (TCS) foods are foods that when not correctly stored, heated, cooled, or prepared run the risk of having high numbers of pathogenic bacteria.

Knowing what TCS foods are and how to properly control their temperature will help ensure that your customers do not get a foodborne illness, making it an integral part of food safety training.

List of TCS Foods

The following foods need strict time and temperature control when preparing, serving, and storing:

  • Dairy products
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Soy protein (i.e. tofu)
  • Raw sprouts
  • Cooked or cut fruits and vegetables
  • Cooked rice, pasta, and potatoes
  • Unmodified garlic oils

Foods that are dried, canned, vacuum packed, high in acidity, or high in salt or sugar are considered low-risk foods as they don’t have good conditions for bacteria to grow in.

Temperature Danger Zone

The temperature danger zone is between 40°F - 140°F and is the temperature range in which foodborne bacteria can thrive. For TCS foods, it is important to minimize time in the temperature danger zone in order to prevent bacteria from multiplying.

TCS Foods Temperature Controls

It is especially important to keep TCS foods out of the temperature danger zone in order to avoid spreading foodborne illnesses.

Here is how to properly hold, cook, thaw, and reheat foods that will keep pathogenic bacteria from multiplying.

Cold Holding

Cold TCS foods must be held at 40°F or below.

Hot Holding

TCS hot foods should be maintained at 135°F or above.


Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, under running water, or during the cooking process. NEVER thaw frozen foods at room temperature.


Cook TCS foods to their minimum required temperature, as listed on our recommended safe minimum internal cooking temperatures guide.


If the TCS food is at 135°F, it must be cooled to 70°F in 2 hours and 41°F within 6 hours. From room temperature, TCS foods must be cooled to 41°F within 4 hours.

Remember to keep containers with hot food uncovered while cooling to prevent condensation, then cover once it is cooled.


When reheating, TCS foods must reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F for at least 15 seconds within 2 hours.

9 Most Common Food Allergies

There are many different foods that can cause an allergic reaction, but 9 foods in particular are responsible for 90% of allergenic reactions and are classified by law as “major food allergens.”

It is important to be aware of what these 8 food allergens are and what dishes they appear in to avoid your customers suffering from a severe allergic reaction. We will be going over these 8 food allergens and where they appear and could be hidden, as well as the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

What is a Food Allergy

A food allergy is when your body’s immune system mistakes a certain food protein as a threat and tries to defend itself. Depending on the person, food allergies can range in severity, and even a small quantity can result in an allergic reaction.  

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Usually symptoms include:

  •          Flushing and redness
  •          Hives
  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Nausea and vomiting
  •          Dizziness and fainting
  •          Difficulty swallowing or breathing

Severe cases can result in anaphylactic shock, where there is intense swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing and they may become unconscious. This can be fatal.

That is why it is crucial to understand food allergies and be aware of what the most common food allergens are and how to spot them.


Peanut allergies are the most common allergy and lasts a lifetime. Even a trace of peanuts can cause a severe allergic reaction.

It is important to check the label for peanuts since they may appear in the places you’d least expect them, such as pesto, baked goods, ethnic food, and vegetarian food. There are also other names for peanuts that may appear on the label, including the following:

  •          Ground nuts
  •          Beer nuts
  •          Monkey nuts
  •          Arachis oil
  •          Kernels
  •          Mandelonas

Note that many places that make tree nut products will use the same equipment with peanuts. Therefore, people with peanut allergies may choose to avoid tree nuts as well in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Tree nuts

Tree nuts allergies tend to be lifelong. They grow above ground on trees and include almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachios.

Tree nuts may be found in ethnic and vegetarian dishes, desserts, flavored coffees, alcoholic beverages, and oils or sauces.

Peanuts are not tree nuts, but people with tree nut allergies may also react to peanuts.


Milk allergies are one of the most common allergies in children, but most grow out of it, so it’s less common in adults. If a child is allergic to cow’s milk, they most likely are also allergic to other animal milks.

Alternative names for milk that may appear on an ingredients label include:

  •          Casein (hydrolysate)
  •          Caseinates
  •          Whey
  •          Lactoalbumin (phosphate)
  •          Lactose
  •          Lactulose
  •          Lactoferrin
  •          Lacto Globulin

Watch out for products where milk could be hiding, such as baked goods, salad dressings, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, and processed meat and fish products.


Egg allergies are caused by three proteins found in eggs. Similar to milk allergies, egg allergies are a common allergy for children, but not as common in adults.

There are many other names for eggs that may appear on an ingredients label. These include:

  •          Albumen
  •          Conalbumin
  •          Globulin
  •          Livetin
  •          Lysozyme
  •          Ovalbumin
  •          Ovomucin
  •          Ovotransferrin
  •          Silico-albuminate
  •          Vitellin

Some products that may contain eggs are mayonnaise, pasta, baked goods, sweets/confectionary (e.g. marshmallows), specialty coffee drinks, and glazes.


Finned fish are another lifelong allergy. People who are allergic to one type of fish may be allergic to others as well, so they tend to avoid fish all together. Finned fish include base, cod, eel, salmon, tuna, trout, and many more.

Be wary of fish oil used and fish sauces used in cooking, since this will also trigger an allergic reaction.


Food allergies to crustaceans & mollusks are very common. Shellfish, along with peanuts and tree nuts, are the most common causes of anaphylactic reactions.

Shellfish allergies are not related to fish allergies. So, if someone is allergic to shellfish, that does not mean that they also have a fish allergy.

Like with fish, shellfish can be hiding in dressings, sauces, and broth, so read the ingredient lists closely.


Wheat is the most commonly used grain in the United States. Most children outgrow their wheat allergy by the age of 3, but there are still some adults who are allergic to wheat.

There are many other grains that people with wheat allergies can consume. Substitutes include rice, rice flour, potato flour, buckwheat, and quinoa.


Soybeans are part of the legume family and in the United States are commonly used to boost protein in processed foods. Soybean allergies are very common in children, but most children will outgrow soy allergies by the age of 10.

Soy appears in sauces, cooking oil, protein substitutes, broths, and cereals.


In January 2023, the FDA added Sesame as the 9th major allergen. 1.6 million people have an allergy to sesame and this is why you need to be aware of this important update.

An allergy to sesame can cause severe reactions including anaphylaxis. Some allergenic sufferers have cross-reactivity between nuts and seeds so that those with allergies to nuts may also react to sesame.

Occasionally allergic reactions to other seeds such as poppy seeds can occur. 

Get more information on the 9 most common food allergens as well as how to spot and treat an allergic reaction by taking an allergy awareness course.

The Big 6 Foodborne Illnesses

The CDC reports that researchers have identified over 250 foodborne diseases. It is impossible to know about all of these sicknesses, but you should know about the 6 most common foodborne illnesses, known as the “Big 6”—Salmonella, Salmonella typhi (Typhoid), Shigella, E. coli, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A. Without proper food safety policies and procedures, foodborne pathogens can easily make their way into the food you are serving and infect your customers.

You can get more in-depth information about each of these foodborne pathogens in our pdf guide. But here are the basics of what you need to know in order to prevent your customers and staff.



Carried naturally by farm animals, it affects raw food from animal origins such as meats, eggs, and milk. It also affects vegetables that have come into contact with animal feces. It can survive freezer temperatures, but can be killed off at temperatures above 131°F.


  •          Fever
  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Diarrhea
  •          Vomiting


  •          Cook all meat, poultry, and eggs to the minimum internal temperatures
  •          Use correct thawing techniques
  •          Wash raw fruits and vegetables
  •          Store TCS foods separately from ready-to-eat foods
  •          Sanitize all surfaces to prevent cross-contamination


Salmonella typhi (Typhoid)

Typhoid is the most severe foodborne illness and is a common killer where there is poor sanitation. It affects water and food contaminated by sewage. It cannot survive being cooked or boiled but can survive refrigerator or freezer temperatures.

With treatment, the mortality rate is 1-2%, but without treatment, death occurs every 1 in 3 instances.


  •          Fever and high temperature
  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Diarrhea
  •          Vomiting
  •          Mental confusion
  •          Pink spots on skin


  •          Ensuring water is safe with no risk of contamination
  •          Effective sewage disposal
  •          High standards of personal hygiene
  •          Cook food to minimum internal temperature
  •          Effective cleaning and sanitation procedures to prevent cross-contamination
  •          Strict hand washing policies



Shigella occurs when food workers who are carriers of the bacteria fail to wash their hands after using the restroom. It can also be spread through flies touching the food.


  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Diarrhea
  •          Bloody Stool
  •          Fever


  •          Strict handwashing policy
  •          Rapidly cool foods to 41°F or below
  •          Cook food to minimum internal temperature
  •          Eliminate flies from your establishment


E. coli

Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but some can cause food poisoning. It can infect humans and cattle and it only takes a small number of these bacteria to make someone sick. It is not dangerous to most healthy people, however, can be fatal for groups such as children, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

E. Coli can survive and multiply in refrigerators running as low as 36°F and can survive on stainless steel surfaces for 60 days if not sanitized properly. Cooking above 122°F starts to slow down the growth.


  •          Diarrhea
  •          Vomiting
  •          Fever
  •          Abdominal pain


  •          Use approved suppliers
  •          Separate storage and work areas for raw and high-risk foods
  •          Cooking food to its minimum internal temperature
  •          Temperature control of chilled ready-to-eat foods
  •          Good personal hygiene
  •          Effective cleaning and sanitation practices



Norovirus is the most common type of viral gastroenteritis in the US, with its short-lived, aggressive diarrhea and projectile vomiting. It is also very contagious.

Norovirus can come from ready-to-eat foods, contaminated water, and raw shellfish from contaminated water. Infected food handlers can spread the virus while they are preparing food. It is commonly spread person-to-person by fecal-oral, oral-oral, and by poor personal hygiene, poor handwashing and bare hand contact.


  •          Nausea
  •          Projectile vomiting
  •          Diarrhea
  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Moderate fever-like symptoms


  •          Strict hand washing policies
  •          Strict personal hygiene standards
  •          Avoid bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  •          Effective cleaning and sanitation


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral liver infection that is widespread around the world, especially in areas with poor sanitation. It is commonly spread person-to-person by the fecal-oral route, poor handwashing and bare hand contact. Infected people are highly contagious but may not show signs for weeks. Cooking will NOT destroy this virus.


  •          Fever
  •          Nausea
  •          Abdominal Pain
  •          Jaundice


  •          Exclude employees who have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A
  •          Strict handwashing policies
  •          Strict personal hygiene standards
  •          Avoid bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods
  •          Effective cleaning and sanitation


Prevent Foodborne Illness

It is important that your staff is food safety trained so are aware of the ways pathogens can spread through food and how to prevent foodborne illnesses.


Always Food Safe offers Food Handlers training to teach you and your staff more about the Big 6 foodborne illnesses and how to prevent the spread of pathogens in your establishment.  

How To Prevent Workplace Violence Associated With COVID-19

With coronavirus prevention policies such as masks, social distancing, and restrictions on how many people can be in your restaurant at one time, workers may be threatened or assaulted while trying to enforce these policies.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released guidelines on how to handle violent workplace situations that may arise due to COVID-19 restrictions. You can implement these strategies in your own restaurant to protect your employees and customers and create a safer space for everyone.

Offer Customers Options That Minimize Contact

Limit in-person contact by offering services such as curbside pickup and delivery. The less in-person contact there is, the less likely a violent situation could occur.

Advertise Social Distancing Policies

Whether it’s hanging up signs or advertising on your website, let customers know what COVID-19 policies you have in place, so customers are aware and know what to expect.

Create a Plan to Respond to Workplace Violence

Train your employees on how to respond to threats or violence and have a plan in place for how to assess and respond to violence and threats. Learn verbal and non-verbal cues that warn of a possible violent situation, including:

  • speaking loudly
  • swearing
  • clenched fists
  • heavy breathing
  • fixed stare
  • pacing

Also teach employees how to respond to violent situations. Lay out a plan for them to follow when a violent or threatening situation arises. Some things you can implement in your plan include:

  • Not arguing with the customer
  • Avoiding threatening gestures i.e. finger pointing
  • Remaining aware and stand by coworkers experiencing a violent situation
  • Not forcing customers who are upset or violent to follow coronavirus prevention policies
  • Going to a safe area (preferably with a locked door and exits), if need be
  • Reporting threats or acts of violence to a supervisor or manager

For more information, view the CDC’s guidelines.

How To Get Your Food Manager Certification Online

Having a food manager certification allows you to lead your team and make sure that proper food safety measures are being taken in order to protect customers as well as your fellow coworkers.

And it is possible to earn this certification entirely online!

Always Food Safe offers online, video-based food manager courses, as well as remotely proctored online exams, so you can complete your food manager certification from the comfort of your own home.

Let’s walk through the steps to help you complete your food protection manager certification online.

Why You Should Get Your Food Manager Certification Online

Online courses allow you to complete your food manager training on your own time and at your own pace, while remotely proctored exams take away the stress of testing centers and provides greater flexibility on when and where you take it.

How It Works: Become Certified in 5 Easy Steps

1.      Choose the Certification Package You Need

Select your state and county to find the food manager training package specifically tailored to your needs and location. Purchase the course or exam separately or select a course and exam bundle. Which one you need will depend on where you are from and your experience level. Some states require food manager training courses, so be sure to check with your local health department.

2.      Set Up Your Account Online

To access your food protection manager training, set up your account with your training provider.

3.      Complete Your Course Online If You Need the Course

If you are taking the course, access it online and complete the training videos at your own pace. Otherwise, just book your exam time.

4.      Book Your Exam Time

You can schedule an exam time at a traditional testing center, or you also have the option to take the exam online through an online testing provider, such as ProctorU. This gives you more options of when you can take the exam so you can find a time that best fits your schedule.

5.      Take and Pass Your Exam to Receive Your Food Manager Certificate

Once you have completed the exam and passed, you can download and print out your food manager certificate at any time. If you didn’t pass on your first attempt, you will have limited retakes so you can try again and pass.

Always Food Safe offers online training for food managers in a number of states. Visit our food manager page and follow the steps above to get started.

Thomas Draudt PBS Special Airs Throughout August 2020

Filmmaker Thomas Draudt is an Emmy Award-Winning producer and an Emmy Nominated Director, and who also directed our Food Manager training videos! Partnering with Rhode Island PBS, he has created his first PBS special, “Second Wind: The Tale of a Sailor,” which originally premiering in August 2019 and will be airing again on various PBS stations in August 2020.

The special documents the career of nautical photographer and sailor Onne van der Wal. His photography career has spanned over 30 years, documenting his adventures sailing around the globe and eventually refurbishing a sailboat of his own.

Check the schedule to see when “Second Wind: The Tale of a Sailor” will be airing on your local PBS station.

And here is a preview of our Food Manager training that Draudt directed.