The Network recently received an inquiry from a county local health department director about whether food handler training is an evidence-based public health intervention for food safety. Food handler trainings are educational programs designed to reduce the instances of food-borne illness and other food safety issues. Food training requirements differ widely by jurisdiction.
The Network identified two research articles that examine and establish the evidence of food handler trainings as an effective public health intervention.
The first article is an assessment of the effectiveness of food worker training in Florida after a change in state law that expanded food handling training from managers to all employees. This study found that the overall occurrence of foodborne illness outbreaks and cases decreased after the implementation of new training requirements in Florida. However, the authors caution about possible confounders and indicate that certain factors contributing to foodborne illness increased after the law’s expansion while other factors decreased.
The second article is a 2012 meta-analysis of food safety training studies and explores the effectiveness of food safety training and hand hygiene interventions. The meta-analysis results support the individual studies that found food safety training increases hand hygiene knowledge and attitudes. Also, by assembling and combining the data of several food handler studies, the meta-analysis is able to assess the effectiveness of food handler training more accurately than a single study and can be an important tool for policy-makers when deciding the need or scope of food handler policies.
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