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FOODSAFE Knowledge Retention Study

Research shows that 95% of people who took the FOODSAFE Level 1 course five years ago or earlier would fail the exam if they wrote it today. That’s why all new FOODSAFE Level One certificates issued in British Columbia will have a five-year expiry date, starting July 29, 2013.

quote from June 7, 2013 FOODSAFE press release

Purpose of Studies

The purpose of the studies were to find out

  • if the ability of FOODSAFE graduates to remember principles of food safety from the course declined over time,
  • if the workplace influences food safety knowledge and attitudes in workers, and
  • if trained (FOODSAFE) food service workers have better food safety practices at home
  • [this was Phase 1 - conducted in 2009]
  • if retraining food service workers was effective
  • [this was Phase 2 - conducted in 2011 and 2012]

Participants for Phase 1: In the spring of 2009, a phone survey  of 500 FOODSAFE graduates working in the food services industry, 395 FOODSAFE graduates no longer working in the food services industry and 201 food workers who had not taken the FOODSAFE course before asked about food handler knowledge, practices and attitudes.
Participants for Phase 2:  In the spring of 2012, the phone survey was repeated with 18 food workers who were retrained in 2011 (the intervention group) and with 19 food workers who did not receive retraining (the control group).  In addition, another set of food workers who didn't participate in the 2009 survey, and who never received any FOODSAFE training were also included.

What were the results?

Both of these studies have been published in the journal Food Control.

Phase 1:
McIntyre, L.; Vallaster, L.; Wilcott, L.; Henderson, S.B.; Kosatsky, T., Evaluation of food safety knowledge, attitudes and self-reported hand washing practices in foodsafe trained and untrained food handlers in British Columbia, canada. Food Control 2013, 30, 150-156  

Phase 2:
McIntyre, L.; Peng, D.; Henderson, S.B. Retraining effectiveness in FOODSAFE trained food handlers in British Columbia, Canada. Food Control 2014, 35, 137-141

Final Report Sep 2011 (Phase 1)

Executive Summary and Recommendations from the Report.

FOODSAFE graduates did have significantly higher scores than untrained workers, but this knowledge decreased over time. After one year, FOODSAFE graduates forgot key food safety principles and most scored less than 70%. FOODSAFE graduates did have better attitudes and practices in comparison to untrained food workers.

Proper Food Cooling Method

An example of a key food safety principle is the proper way to cool foods.  To keep foods out of the DANGER ZONE cool after cooking to 20oC within 2 hours, then to 4oC within 4 hours. Using an ice bath is a good idea, or transfer foods from big pots into smaller shallow pans, so the food cools faster. Always measure the internal temperature of the food.

Proper Dish Washing
Another example of a key food safety principle is the proper way to wash dishes.  The sequence of steps is 
The correct amount of household bleach to sanitize surfaces is one ounce per gallon (or 5 mL per litre) to achieve at least 200ppm (the desired range is between 100 and 200ppm, household bleach can vary between 3.25% and 5%). Only 64% of trained workers and 55% of untrained workers answered this correctly!

More results are discussed in  a 2 page hand-out  

        temperature chart

            food colling procedure
To find out more contact Food Protection Services at 604.707.2440
Last Updated: July 26, 2013