Food Safety Education for Quantity Food Handlers
Foodborne illnesses are a common and costly—yet preventable—public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 6 Americans (approximately 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses each year. Estimates are used because only a fraction of illnesses are actually diagnosed and reported. As result, Delaware now requires every permitted food establishment to designate a person in charge who can demonstrate knowledge of safe food handling by passing a certification exam.
University of Delaware (UD) Cooperative Extension has two programs that target quantity food handlers. Designed for managers of foodservice operations, the ServSafe® program is the premier food safety certification offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Successful completion of the certification exam helps in meeting the State of Delaware Food Code requirements. Dine Safe trains quantity food preparers working in a variety of settings. They learn skills and strategies required to keep food safe regardless of their specific jobs. ServSafe® and Dine Safe participants work in retail operations, school foodservice, church kitchens, childcare settings as well as restaurants.
During the past three years (2014–2016), UD Cooperative Extension reached 1,692 quantity foodservice workers in the ServSafe® and Dine Safe programs. After successful completion of trainings, attendees personally carried out or instructed their staffs to execute the following:
- 90% washed their hands more frequently
- 77% calibrated thermometers on a regular basis
- 72% kept hot foods at or above 135 °F
- 81% used sanitizers correctly, including checking for proper concentration
- 79% thoroughly washed and sanitized all food surfaces before preparing a different food item