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Food Safety Knowledge Retention Study

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Foodborne illness in Canada is an ongoing burden for public health and the economy. Many foodborne illnesses result from improper food handling practices. If food handlers had a greater knowledge of what causes foodborne illness, perhaps these illnesses would have less of an impact on society. This study gave researchers the opportunity to examine the current food safety knowledge of food handlers by using a standardized questionnaire. Questionnaires were distributed by environmental health officers to food handlers working in the food service industry during on-site inspections, and responses were used to evaluate immediate knowledge of key food safety issues. Both certified and noncertified food handlers were evaluated. Information also was collected on the number of years since food safety certification was achieved and the number of years experience noncertified food handlers had in the food service industry. Results indicated that certified food handlers had a greater knowledge of food safety information than did noncertified food handlers. The highest failure rates were observed among noncertified food handlers with more than 10 years of experience and less than 1 year of experience. The results support the need for mandatory food safety certification for workers in the food service industry and for recertification at least every 10 years. Although the study was not sufficiently rigorous to evaluate existing food safety courses, data collected provided valuable insight into what issues should be emphasized in existing food safety courses and which should be targeted by future food safety initiatives.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Environmental Public Health Services, Capital Health, Capital Heath Center, South Tower, Suite 200, 10030-107 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5J 3E4

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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