How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?
Risky food preparation practices were commonly reported by Food Handlers in a report by the Environmental Health Services Branch of the CDC.
While this study has limitations, it gives managers insight into potential educational areas that need to be addressed when striving for food safety excellence.
When asked key hygiene questions, food workers gave some real insight.
Results show that food handlers:
- 23% did not always wash their hands frequently or adequately.
- 60% did not always wear gloves while touching ready-to-eat (RTE) food.
- 33% did not change gloves between handling raw meat and RTE food.
- 53% did not use a thermometer to check food temperatures.
- 5% had worked while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.
The authors concluded, “This study provides valuable information concerning the prevalence of food preparation practices (of food handlers) and factors that may impact those practices. Additional research is needed to better understand those factors.”
On a busy day, food servers rush from table to table and may not have time to conveniently use the bathroom. Washing hands frequently and/or adequately can become a lower priority. Using gloves may seem inconvenient. But at what cost?
Food preparers and food servers need constant reminders of the importance of food safety. Management knows the FDA rules. Most managers have likely taken food safety courses. Most states require at least one, if not all food handlers, to be certified.
But beyond education there is mentoring, modeling and enforcement. On site management has its hands full with all kinds of responsibilities, yet any variance from these standards is an opportunity to reiterate important food safety rules.
Ultimately food safety is a personal worker responsibility. Neither the owner, the management or the department of health can be responsible for the trust the consumer places in their food preparer or server. Somehow that attitude must become part of the “food safety culture” within the food establishment and as integral as any other part of the business.
We challenge all restaurant owners and managers to create a “food safety culture”. We will join motivated organizations in pursuit of that mission. Through sponsorship support, we will give you easy tools to help.
We will all benefit.