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First-of-its-Kind Grant Given To Develop Food Safety Training for Hispanic Employees in Food Service

Robert Thomas, Information Specialist, Cooperative Media Group,
University of Missouri


University of Missouri researchers have been awarded a first-of-its-kind grant to design and produce a food safety training program specifically for the nation’s Hispanic employees in the food service industry.


According to a 2004 study, about 75 percent of all food-borne illnesses are caused by mistakes made by employees in restaurants, often because they lack food safety knowledge, said Seonghee Cho, MU assistant professor of hotel and restaurant management.


“The U.S. restaurant industry employs more than 12.8 million workers, about 22 percent of whom are Hispanics. Despite this significant number of Hispanics as food service employees, how they perceive and implement food safety practices has not been studied,” she said.


Food safety training programs are available in Spanish, but training that incorporates culturally sensitive procedures and tools, which reflect Hispanic employees’ learning styles, has not been developed, she said.


The training is intended to enhance both Hispanic employees’ attitudes toward the importance of food safety and their knowledge of food safety practices, said Lisa Flores, associate professor of education and co-director of the Center for Multicultural Research, Training and Consultation.


The ultimate goal of the project is to promote on-the-job behavioral changes in the application of food safety practices among Hispanic employees, said Cho.


Participants will be trained in proper food safety practices, including personal hygiene, identifying proper temperature control and safe practices for preparing, cooking, serving, cooling and reheating food.


The United States Department of Agriculture project will be designed based on findings obtained from employee focus groups, restaurant site observations and a survey in the St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., areas, said Flores.


The three-year $600,000 project will be conducted with researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Cho.

A computer-based food safety training program will be provided to Hispanic employees, followed by a survey with supervisors and co-workers to determine the training’s effectiveness.


For more information, contact Seonghee Cho at 573-882-0563 or Lisa Flores at 573-884-9724.

Last Updated 10/25/2007






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