Food Safety Education Can Save Your Job

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela

Unfortunately, there are people who suffer and die from food borne illness.

~60% of food borne illness is from restaurants.

It is not for lack of science that the problem continues. That science is periodically reviewed by hundreds of experts and is at the core of our FDA food code. Almost every state has patterned its food code after that national standard.

It is not for lack of available food safety education that the problem Delivering Food Safelycontinues. There are excellent courses in food safety for owners, managers and food handlers. Most states require that at least one food handler be certified through an extensive food safety course and be on site at all times.


It is not for lack of desire that the problem continues. In my heart, as a physician, I believe that no restaurant owner, no restaurant manager and no restaurant food handler or server would willfully compromise food safety.

It is, however, likely, caused because there is a lack of food safety education of and lack of enforcement of important principles by and within the weakest link in the chain – the entry-level server.

 Food Safety Education Can Save Your Job.

An estimated 1/3 of all workers get their first job experience in a restaurant. Where did they first learn food handling? Likely it was at home. LA County developed a home kitchen food safety quiz. The results showed a serious lack of food safety practices within the home.  Expect that most entry-level restaurant employees need to be trained or retrained in food safety practices!

It is also often a lack of reinforcement of food safety standards. In a Dirty Dining Report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest summarizing restaurant inspection reports from 20 large metropolitan areas, 66% of restaurants failed a critical inspection item. Those violations put restaurants at risk for a food borne illness event.

Admittedly, not all food borne events can be prevented by education and enforcement of standards, but many will be. Not all tarnished restaurant reputations can be saved by education and enforcement of standards but why not make the restaurant the best it can be.

Food Safety Education Can Save Your Job.

Consider if you are employed by a restaurant, ask your manager to:

  1. Develop a training requirement prior to employing entry-level food servers.
  2. Re-evaluate your food safety enforcement program for mid-level servers.
  3. Participate in continuous process improvement methods.
  4. Do everything you can to build  your restaurant’s Food Safety image.
  5. Register for the blog and keep up to date on Food Safety issues.

Your job security may be at stake.



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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