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ISU researchers receive $509,252 grant to improve food safety practices

A team of Iowa State University researchers were recently awarded a $509,252 three-year grant to investigate what motivates retail foodservice employees to follow safe food handling practices. The grant was awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension (USDA CREES Project number 2007-51110-03806).

The goal of hte project is to determine factors that movtivate foodservice employees to implement safe food handling practices in commercial (i.e. restaurants) and noncommercial (i.e. schools) retail foodservices and develop strategies to improve motivation.

"There is not a lot of research studying employee motivation in relationship to food safety behaviors," said Dr. Susan Arendt, principal investigator for the project. "While training is important in developing employee knowledge and skills, training alone does not assure employees will follow through with safe food practices. We hope that by learning what motivates employees to actually follow safe food practices, we can help in keeping food safe."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about half of every dollar spent for food is spent for food prepared away from home. The majority of foodborne illnesses have  been linked to foods prepared in retail foodservice operations and caused by human error at some point in the food chain.

The project will have three phases. The first phase involves developing and testing a model to expalin employee motivation to follow food safety practices. The second phase of the project will involve developing training programs for supervisors/managers and dietetics/hospitality management students. The third phase will involve testing the training programs and evaluating their effectiveness. The project period is September 2007 through August 2010.