Assessment of Educational Needs and Current Practices of Front-line Grocery Employees in the Deli and Bakery

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


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.



food safety training, Education, food handler, grocery store, observations