Grocery store associates in deli/bakery departments prepare and serve an increasing number of ready-to eat (RTE) foods and full meals. The shift to more convenience foods and take-home meals highlights the need for effective food safety training programs in retail grocery establishments to prevent foodborne illness. Through qualitative and quantitative methods, food safety knowledge, training preferences, needs, and current practices of grocery stores deli/bakery food handlers in Southwest and Southern Virginia were explored. Deli employees (n ¼ 78) completed a 34 question survey eliciting information on demographics, food safety training needs, preferences and knowledge. In an additional phase of this project, a subset of those originally surveyed (n ¼ 15) were observed for food handling practices (6 h per person). Observational data collection focused on cross-contamination, glove use and hand washing. Most grocery store deli/bakery food handlers reported wanting frequent hands-on, interactive one-on-one training lasting less than 2 h. The target audience’s largest knowledge gaps included correct temperatures for cooking, reheating and cooling foods. Observed behaviors did not correlate with food safety knowledge. For example, greater than 95% of participants reported using correct hand washing techniques; however, observational behavior data showed less than 50% of hand washing events observed were correct. Additionally, food handlers were observed not washing hands prior to putting gloves on as well as practicing bare hand contact with RTE foods. The creation of short, hands-on or interactive trainings for retail grocery food handlers that focuses on changing food handling and preparation behaviors may enhance the food handler’s safe food handling practices.
- food safety training,
- food handler,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/nancy_franz/29/