Imagine that you are opening the restaurant of your dreams and you have a slew of young eager employees. It is opening night. There is music playing, laughter throughout room, and the sound of glasses clinging.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere is interrupted by a man’s complaint that his steak was undercooked. A health violation could start your restaurant off on the wrong foot and possibly cause a loss of business.
Senior Kiera Melton has a plan for that. The public health major is doing her capstone project on food safety and ways that restaurants can better train their employees.
Each year roughly one in six Americans become sick from foodborne diseases, according to the Center for Disease Control. Many of these illnesses are a cause of improper food handling.
Most restaurants use short online classes to inform employees about food safety which Melton explained is ineffective.
“The issue with these online classes is that people can just skim through them and pass,” said Melton.
In her project, Melton has devised a program in which new restaurant employees must take a hands-on food safety course as well as an online training session before stepping foot into the work place.
The main objective of the program is to decrease foodborne illness in Washington County by 10 percent over the next 5 years.
Melton believes that utilizing both technology and standard training will emphasize the importance of food safety in restaurants throughout the county.
This course will also include information in Spanish due to Washington County’s high population of Hispanics.
“Including materials in another language is important so that a larger population can have access to the program,” Melton explained.