Extension Provides Food Safety Modules for Foodservice Employees

 Foodservice employees have many things to think about while on the job. To help them continue to put safe food knowledge into practice, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recently launched a research and training development project called Do Your PART.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated that about half of every food dollar is spent for food prepared away from home. The retail foodservice operations that prepare this food could include four generations of employees working together, according to Catherine Strohbehn, member of the SafeFood© project team and Iowa State University adjunct professor and extension specialist. Because of variations in background, each generational worker may have different motivations toward work and identify different barriers to performing work safely. In addition, each generation may have different technology capabilities and learning styles.

Do Your PART is funded by a USDA Customization Grant led by Susan Arendt, an associate professor in hospitality management, and also includes Strohbehn, Ana Correia from curriculum and instruction, Mack Shelley from statistics and political science, Janell Meyer, project coordinator and two graduate student team members. The group developed the Do Your PART modules to relay effective strategies to workers of all generations using short, visual units of information.

“It is recognized that there are differences among generations of workers,” Strohbehn said. “There is also a very high number of workers in the restaurant industry who speak another language at home. We made the messages in the video modules easy to understand and act upon.”

The Do Your PART project Web materials include five sections, which are available in English and Spanish. The first section is an overview about the importance of workplace organization in preparing food safely. The other four sections each suggest strategies for workers to implement to make their jobs easier and more efficient each day while keeping food safe:

  • Plan. Make a plan each day to organize your work, minimize input and maximize safe food handling behaviors.
  • Act. Put the plan to action. Work smarter, not harder.
  • Routine. Including safe food handling in your work routines will make food safety a habit and not something you need to constantly think about.
  • Think. For foodservice employees, regularly re-thinking routines means considering changes that have occurred in the operation that impact food safety and continually looking for ways to improve.

Each section is set up with a video followed by a practice activity in which viewers can apply the points shown in the video, and ends with a check of questions and answers. The check is a simple assessment of workers’ knowledge of the section. The check provides immediate feedback. Workers can print off proof of training once an assessment is completed. This provides documentation that workers are aware of safe food handling practices, and helps mitigate risk for the operation, Strohbehn added.

“Knowing what safe food handling means is only part of what is needed to ensure food is safely prepared and served,” Strohbehn said. “The Do Your PART modules provide managers with the tools to share with their staff to put safe food knowledge into practice.”

Foodservice employees may complete the Do Your PART learning modules at no cost. For more information on the Do Your PART project, visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/doyourpart/. Do Your PART partners include Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the USDA.


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