Prevent Turnover with Food Safety Training

There is quite a bit of turnover in food service these days. Staff can barely get an employee trained before they resign for another job.
August 3, 2022

This is so frustrating that many operators don’t bother, feeling that it is a waste of time if people are going to leave. However, training is so important when it comes to running a safe kitchen.

Two months ago I walked into one of my clients’ kitchens. I quickly noticed young men with hair restraints that did not cover most of their hair. Per the Model Food Code, I asked them to put on hair nets. When they asked why, I explained that hair restraints help to prevent cross contamination. If an employee’s hair is dirty, you risk adding extra bacteria to the food. Not to mention, no one wants to take a bite of food and find a hair.

I also explained the FDA Food Code 1-102.10 (Intent–food safety, illness prevention, and honest presentation). According to the FDA, “The purpose of this code is to safeguard public health and to provide consumers with food that is safe, unadulterated, and honestly presented.”

When I returned to the same kitchen a month later, two of the young men had their hair appropriately covered and the third no longer worked there. A new employee wore the correct head covering because the other two had explained why this was important, based on my instruction.

Better Call Beth (BCB) had a similar experience with hand sinks in another facility. Restaurant staff consistently used the hand sinks as dumping sinks, and the managers became frustrated with the situation.

Think about your pot washer. Have you taken the time to teach employees how to use a test strip and what to look for? It only takes a few minutes to show someone how to wash, rinse, sanitize, and use a test kit.

It might surprise you that once you make sure an employee understands their job and feels important, they will more easily and happily comply with health code regulations. They’ll feel like part of the team, and they can feel good about contributing to a successful inspection. This is evidenced by the many smiles that we get when we ask employees to use the test kit and they’re able to do it seamlessly.

Unfortunately, most people do not train their staff in this manner; they leave it up to the other employees and/or a written policy. My staff and I often find that when we ask “Who trained you?” we hear, “No one” or “One of the other employees”. This causes poor practice and food safety errors. This will inevitably impact inspections negatively and contribute to turnover.

Consider gloves and how many employees use them incorrectly. This leads to cross contamination of foods. Such oversights are all because someone did not take the time to teach employees that they need to wear gloves when they are handling ready-to-eat food, and they need to change them often.

Don’t waste time Googling policies and procedures only to put them in a manual that sits on a shelf. Develop a training program that is inclusive, teaches employees how to do their job correctly, and why it’s so important to follow certain rules. If you do this, you are guaranteed to improve compliance significantly, make your kitchen safer and cleaner, and decrease any turnover you might be experiencing. Good luck!

Beth Torin, RD, MA

Chief Operating Officer

Beth Torin served as the Executive Director for the New York City Department of Health Office of Food Safety (NYCDOHMH) for 14 years.

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