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Improving Food Safety Through Systematic Need-Based Training: A Focus on the Hispanic Workforce in Restaurants


The ultimate goal of this project is to promote behavioral change in the application of food safety practices on-the-job among Hispanic restaurant employees. As a means of achieving this goal, the anticipated outcome of this project is a training mechanism which will enhance Hispanic employees attitudes toward food safety and their knowledge of food safety and, as a result, motivate them to consistently apply food safety practices on the job. <P>

To achieve the desired outcome, this project has the following objectives. <ol>
<li> Determine the needs areas for food safety training among Hispanic restaurant employees. <li> Develop a training process that is effective in changing Hispanic employees attitudes toward food safety and in providing them with the necessary food safety skills <li> Develop a culturally sensitive training tool to incorporate into the training process which will effectively improve Hispanic employees needs areas identified in Objective 2 <li> Measure the changes in Hispanic employees attitudes toward food safety and the extent of the on-the-job food safety behavioral changes resulting from the training process developed by Objective 3 <li> Develop communication strategies to promote the developed training process and the training tool in the restaurant industry, both within these two states and nationwide </ol>

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The restaurant industry employs over 12.8 million persons, about 22% of whom are Hispanics. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Despite the significant presence of Hispanics as foodservice employees, how they perceive and implement food safety practices have not been studied. While Spanish language food safety training programs are available in the marketplace, a training process incorporating culturally sensitive procedures and tools which reflect Hispanic employees' learning styles has not been developed. This projects goal is to develop a training mechanism which will enhance both Hispanic foodservice employees attitudes toward the importance of food safety and their knowledge of food safety practices. Application of this mechanism should result in improvements in Hispanic restaurant employees on-the-job incorporation of food safety practices.


APPROACH: This project employed a variety of research approaches to accomplish the objective. Focus groups to identify barriers preventing the Hispanic employees from practicing proper food safety practices on their jobs will be conducted in Spanish, as well as English. The findings of the focus groups will be categorized on two dimensions, personal and organizational barriers. The personal barriers will be categorized into three areas using Banduras self-efficacy theory: knowledge, attitudes, and efficacy expectations. The organizational barriers will be categorized into four areas: physical work environment, human work environment, training opportunities, and incentives. The focus groups will be also used to identify Hispanic employees preferred educational delivery methods as well as the learning barriers encountered by these employees, such as poor or no access to computers or a lack of English proficiency. The methods will include demonstrations, lectures, on-the-job training, peer-training, role-plays, a computer-based training, games, and video clips. An investigator and translator will conduct the focus groups. Site observations will be also employed to gain a better understanding of the actual environment in which the Hispanic workers are doing their work and what, if any, restrictions might be present in the workplace to limit what they can do to follow food safety practices. For the site observations, a checklist of proper food safety practices will be developed using the ServeSafe course book (National Restaurant, 2006). Utilizing the findings of the focus groups and the site observations, an assessment survey instrument to identify the needs areas of food safety training will be developed. The instrument will consist of eight sections: knowledge, attitude, efficacy expectations, physical work environment, human work environment, training opportunity, incentives, and demographic characteristics. With the findings of the focus groups and survey instrument, a culturally sensitive, effective computer based training (CBT) program will be developed. <p>CBT is chosen for the delivery vehicle for food safety because of the versatility possible with CBT, as well as the efficiencies in time and cost that are possible with CBT. The CBT will be designed to incorporate preferred instructional methods such as demonstration, lectures, games, role plays, and video clips. CBT program is preferred to traditional lecture style of training since it can be developed as an interactive format including games, role plays, and video clips. The effectiveness of the food safety training will be measured in terms of behavioral changes, besides acquisition of food safety knowledge and changes in food safety attitude. The behavioral changes among the Hispanic restaurant employees will be measured by two parties, supervisors and co-workers.

Cho, Seonghee
University of Missouri - Columbia
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