Assessment of Educational Needs and Current Practices of Front-line Grocery Employees in the Deli and Bakery
Grocery store associates in the deli-bakery departments serve and prepare an increasing amount of ready-to-eat foods. This increases the need for a detailed, effective food safety training program in retail grocery establishments to prevent food borne illness. This research examines food safety knowledge, training preferences, needs, and current practices of grocery stores deli-bakery employees in Southwest and Southern Virginia. This research had two phases. Phase I: employees completed a thirty-four question needs assessment survey concerning background, food safety training needs, preferences and knowledge. Phase 2: 15 employees (from phase 1 locations) food behaviors were observed for approximately six hours each (89.05 hours total). Observational data collection focused on glove use, cross-contamination, and hand washing. The results showed that most grocery food handlers desired hands-on, interactive and one-on-one training that occurs frequently, but is short: less than two hours in length. Overall, most grocery food handlers had general safe food handling knowledge; however, the observational behavior data indicates behaviors do not reflect their knowledge. Greater than 95% understanding was found on the subjects of hand washing and glove use; however, these items were observed practiced incorrectly the most with bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods and lack of hand washing prior to glove use. The creation of short, hands-on or interactive trainings for retail grocery food handlers that focuses on changing food handling and preparation behaviors may be more effective than current training.