How Do Food Handlers Rate Their Own Food Safety Practices?

Risky food preparation practices were commonly reported by food service workers and reported in a study conducted by Environmental Health Specialists at the State and Federal level.

Safety food practise

When asked key hygiene questions, food workers said that at work:

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.

23% did not always wash their hands.

53% did not use a thermometer to check food temperatures.

5% had worked while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.

The authors conclude, “This study provides valuable information concerning the prevalence of food preparation practices and factors that may impact those practices. Additional research is needed to better understand those factors.”

It’s a busy day. The food server rushes from table to table and barely has time to use the bathroom. Washing hands thoroughly and frequently is neglected. Using gloves takes too much time. The pressure is on to get the food out as fast as possible. Cut corners to save time?  But at what cost?

Eight people die and 250 are admitted to the hospital every day from food borne illness costing society a projected $70,000,000,000.00 yearly.

Management knows what the FDA rules are. Most restaurant owners and/or managers have taken food safety courses. Most states require at least one if not all food handlers to be certified. Certification means that person has read key material and passed a test. What is the retention rate? What about on the job training where not all are required to be certified? Is it adequate? Is it thorough? Is there any confirmation of comprehension? Is there a refresher requirement?

There are simple, inexpensive courses available. offers a free food server and a refresher food preparer course available simply by claiming a restaurant as an owner or manager. If state certification is mandated or preferred there are excellent websites that offer great courses focused on those specific requirements.

Beyond education there is enforcement. On site management has its hands full with all kinds of responsibilities, but any variance from these standards are an opportunity to reiterate important food safety rules.

Ultimately food safety is a personal worker responsibility. Neither the owner, the management nor the state can be responsible for someone’s careless disregard for the awesome opportunity and trust the public blindly places in their food preparer or server. Somehow that attitude must become part of the “climate” within the food establishment and as integral as any other part of the business.

We challenge all restaurant owners to create a “food safety culture”. We will join you in that mission.

If you are a restaurant employee, we encourage you to invite your manager or owner to claim their restaurant and access unlimited Food Safety courses.

If you are a consumer, we encourage you to demand excellence in food safety.

We all benefit.


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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