It seems to be a buzz phrase you hear thrown around lately, “food safety culture.” It’s everywhere and it’s important because until everyone is aware of and prepared with food safety training and education, we’ll continue to see foodborne illness outbreaks around the globe.
So how do we create that food safety culture? Well, we start with educating young people! Food safety education creates an awareness of the dangers of improper food safety and that awareness begins to create a standard of expectation.
Here are some ways of bringing food safety education into schools:
56% of foodborne illnesses associated with outbreaks in schools can be attributed to norovirus, a highly contagious stomach illness that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Anyone handling food can easily contaminate and spread the illness.
Food-safe schools take a school-wide approach to food safety, and with the help of partners in the school community, create a culture of food safety.
Food-safe schools have two main ingredients (pun intended):
• They are built on comprehensive procedures, policies, and plans that address the science of food safety.
• They address people’s behavior to encourage the use of food safety procedures, policies, and plans.
So how do you create a food-safe school?
First, you have to either create a food safety policy or review the one you already have. The policy review should acknowledge important food safety efforts that are already in place, as well as identify ways to strengthen and expand on those efforts.
Keep in mind the overall policies that are in place in the food industry as a whole and train and educate based on those practices. Food allergies are another element of food safety and it’s just as important to carefully implement procedures to protect those students with allergies.
It’s also important to plan and prepare to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks in the school.
Proper food safety training and awareness will help food staff and students alike, be aware of the procedures. Employee health is also an important factor when it comes to creating a food safety culture.
Once your policy is in place and in practice, it’s important to communicate with other districts, families, and communities. Spread the word about food safety because you can’t build a food safety culture without a collective effort.