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Development of a Multi-Level Food Safety Education Program for the Retail Food Industry


The goal of this project is to develop a multi-level, food safety education program targeting the retail food industry. The project objectives are: <OL> <LI> Extension educators will increase their knowledge about safe food handling after completing a series of online food safety modules and attendance at a two-day food safety training. <LI>Food employees will increase their knowledge and improve their food handling practices after attending a food safety training. <LI>Retail food managers will make changes to food safety organizational practices.

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Nearly 50 percent of reported cases of foodborne illness are attributed to unsafe food handling in the foodservice environment. This multi level program will be designed to improve the safe food handling knowledge of extension educators, food employees, and retail food managers so they can adopt safe food handling practices that can decrease the incidence of foodborne illness.
Two educational interventions will be developed for extension educators - a series of online food safety modules and a two-day food safety update. Two food safety training programs for both English- and Spanish-speaking employees that are activity-centered will also be developed and evaluated. Supplemental food safety materials, such as posters and table tents will be created for use by managers to promote food safety within their foodservice operation. A validated and reliable evaluation instrument will be constructed to measure food safety organizational practices.
Because food safety is so complex, an extension agent who teaches food safety needs to have meet a level of competency to assure that they are presenting correct food safety information in a confident and credible manner. A list of 105 food safety competencies that extension agents should master was prepared in 2004. The competencies were divided into three groups -- general food safety, food safety for consumers, and food safety for foodservice. Backgrounders for each of the 105 competencies were developed and grouped into 30 categories. All are currently posted on the Web site Each of the 30 competency groupings has a corresponding quiz so that educators can self-assess whether or not they have mastered the competencies that are included in the grouping. Educators also need supplemental activities so they can help food safety program participants practice the information presented in class. Supplemental activities have been prepared for the fifteen areas of knowledge that are presented in all food safety certification programs for the retail food industry. All are posted on the Web site Evaluation is critical to any educational program. A valid and reliable 25-item knowledge instrument to assess the knowledge of foodservice managers was developed to be used as a food safety knowledge pretest-posttest for food safety certification programs targeting managers. An operational change instrument has been developed to determine if changes to the foodservice operation were made post-training. Simply measuring the managers' individual safe food handling practices is not appropriate or even a valid measure. Identifying what food safety operational changes the manager has made after attending the training is a more appropriate and valid measure of safe food handling practices. The developed instrument was organized into six sections. Each section has been designed to be a stand-alone instrument. Section I will assess demographic characteristics of the respondent; section II is a measure of food safety practices; section III assesses the availability of equipment to more easily implement food safety practices; section IV policies; section V monitoring; and section VI training and education. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in foodservice establishments in NC. Many Spanish-speaking foodservice workers have limited or no English-language abilities so traditional English-language food safety training is of little or no benefit to this population group. A six-hour Spanish-language curriculum based on the National Education Foundation ServSafeTM curriculum that was piloted in three NC counties. To date, over 150 Spanish-speaking food workers completed the training. The Spanish-language curriculum was also piloted in South Carolina and Georgia.
1. Extension agents will increase their knowledge about safe food handling in the retail food environment. 2. Foodservice employees who complete Extension-sponsored trainings will increase their knowledge about safe food handling. 3. Managers who complete a food safety certification program will make changes to their food safety organizational practices and will use education materials within their operation to promote food safety among their employees.

Fraser, Angela
North Carolina State University
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