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SafeFood©: Does Policy = Practice?

As we close out Food Safety Month, it seems a good time to reflect upon the safety policies we expect retail foodservice employees to follow. We have all seen the signs in the restroom: Employees must wash their hands before returning to work. There is even a “standardized recipe for the process. Although this is a clear employee hygiene policy I would bet many of you have seen a foodservice worker saunter out of the restroom without washing their hands or only doing the “splash and dash”. WDUD - what is a person to do? Most people may say gross, and then choose not to return to that establishment. The more assertive person might say, Dude, wash your hands – but while the message may be given, not clear it is received.

What is it going to take to get the message across? Some research reports employees even admit they don’t wash their hands!

I take it on faith that most retail food workers understand why the policies are in place and make every effort to follow. I also understand, having experienced it my self back in the day, that being busy in a restaurant is an understatement for the kinetic energy being generated. What I don’t get are the situations where there is clearly a “failure to communicate” – for instance, no one has told anyone the soap dispenser needs replacing. What I also don’t get is why more peer pressure is not used.

Please retail food worker, think of yourself and your customers. Most restaurants depend on repeat customers. If there is not a customer coming through the door, there is not a business – and if there is not a business, you don’t have a job.
Challenge a co-worker you see not following SafeFood policies. The policies are not torture imposed by bureaucrats just to make your life miserable – they are put there for the reason of keeping people healthy. My faith is in you!
submitted by Catherine Strohbehn, RD, CP-FS on September 28, 2009