Are Restaurant Managers and Workers Knowledgeable about Food Safety?

In 2012 the CDC Environmental Health Specialist Network conducted a telephone and then face-to-face interview study with chain and independent restaurant managers. They published their work in a 2014 paper titled Restaurant manager and worker food safety certification and knowledge. Their findings are troubling.

Managers: 64% had more than 2 years experience as a kitchen manager and

95% of managers self report they had food safety training.

But only 79% have been certified.

87% got that training from a manual or employee handbook.

But 52% got their training on the job.

Sadly 45% failed a simple 18-question test.

Workers: 88% had more than 2 years experience in the food industry and

90% of workers self report they had food safety training.

But 64% have never been certified.

94% got the training on the job without written material.

Sadly 48% failed a simple 18-question test.

The expert author’s conclusions are stunning. “Food safety knowledge is lacking.” ‘Food safety practices in independent restaurants are inferior to chain restaurant food practices.’

If you are a food service worker you can stand out. You can be average as noted above. Or you can lead the pack. You can become knowledgeable about food safety or you can become complacent and put people’s health at risk.

If you are a restaurant owner or manager you can make core food safety knowledge mandatory. You can create a food safety culture that cares! can help.

We have simple online solutions.



Author: Dr. Harlan Stueven, MD

Harlan Stueven M.D. is a Board-Certified Emergency physician with sub-specialization in Environmental Toxicology and Board Certification in Medical Toxicology. Starting his career in the USAF, he served as a Flight Surgeon and Environmental Health Consultant Physician where one of his duties was monitoring food safety. In his nearly 40-year practice, he treated a range of medical, surgical and poisoning emergencies. He has been a Medical Director and/or Chairman of several hospital-based Emergency Medicine Departments, served as the President of Emergency and Environmental Medicine consulting group, a physician group Chief Financial Officer and sat on many national, state and local committees. Dr. Stueven founded Dining Grades and the Dining Safety Alliance to improve food safety by increasing awareness of food borne illness and the formation of partnerships within the food industry. He is a consultant to the Wisconsin Retail Food Establishment Grading Work Group; a Co-investigator in a CDC funded “Evaluation of Health Department Restaurant Inspection Programs” project. He has presented at several National, State and Regional conferences on restaurant grading and food safety. He is an accomplished leader, medical researcher, a champion of process improvement, author, and national and international speaker.

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