Food Allergen Awareness Training for the Food Service Industry
Stoneman, Sandra C.
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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people in the US with food allergies has doubled in the past twenty years. This rise in food allergies has had a growing impact on food service operations. The need for food allergen training for food service workers is evident and now a requirement in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The main purpose of this study was to determine if an instructor-led food allergy training program specifically designed for food service workers could produce an increase in knowledge and potentially a change in behavior that could help to minimize the risk of food allergy reactions in food service establishments. This food allergen training was developed using the Food Hygiene Training Model and the study was based on the Theory of Reasoned Action. The training was conducted January – March, 2018 at multiple food service establishments in southwest Virginia. In addition, a training session was held at the 2018 Virginia Cooperative Extension Winter Conference for Extension Agents that prepare and serve food as part of their programming. Pre- and post-training questionnaires were developed and compared to identify if there was an increase in knowledge, and a program evaluation was completed by all 93 participants. Results revealed that 97% of the participants had an increase in knowledge, 98% felt the training provided them with new ideas they could implement to minimize the risk of food allergy reactions, and 100% indicated that they would recommend this in-person food allergen training to others in the food service industry.