Addressing Food Safety Educational Needs of Food Handlers in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Between 2009 and 2015, restaurants represented 61% of foodborne illnesses in the United States. Cultural differences among food handlers have been shown to pose challenges in compliance with food safety practices in restaurants. The hypothesis was that culturally appropriate, needs-based food safety education intervention for the food service industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands would increase positive food safety behaviors. Face-to-face interviews based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2013 Food Code were conducted with 28 restaurant managers and seven key informants to identify food safety knowledge and behavior gaps. Food safety training flip charts, posters, and signs addressing gaps were developed and pilot tested before dissemination. Behavioral change was assessed 6 months after dissemination. Food safety knowledge and behavioral gaps included inadequate hygiene and sanitation, time and temperature abuse of food, cross-contamination, and low-quality food. Respondents requested that their customs, food, and people be represented within training materials. Developed materials were used to train 89 employees (from 11 restaurants), and personal hygiene practices (n = 12 incidents), temperature control (n = 7), preventing cross-contamination (n = 8), and cleaning food contact surfaces (n = 7) had changed after 6 months. On site, culturally appropriate food safety education interventions were found to be effective at promoting food safety practices in culturally diverse populations.
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