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Is Sanitation Training Really Necessary?

As food service professionals, or more specifically school food and nutrition professionals, we never want to read or hear: School District Found at Fault For E. Coli Outbreak; E. Coli Outbreak Hits Wisconsin School; E. Coli Outbreak Reported in Milwaukee School; Salmonella Outbreak Reported After Students Ate Watermelon and Pears; etc. Can headlines such as these be prevented?
The answer is a definite, YES!
It is our responsibility as managers, directors and supervisors to provide training in the area of food service and sanitation. The old statement, An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure, definitely is appropriate when one is considering the importance of training in the area of sanitation.
Maybe training is just not something you enjoy or feel comfortable doing. All you have to do is ask for help. Many equipment representatives are certified to teach Serve Safe, which was developed by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association and Serving It Safe, a sanitation course developed by USDA Food and Consumer Service is taught by many Child Nutrition Program Directors and Supervisors and by the Food Service Management Institute. Your local or State Department of Public Health and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are also excellent resources. There are so many valuable resources, you do not have to do everything yourself.
Many valuable resources can also be found on the Internet. An activity book for students can be found at and
Ten hours of sanitation training is one of the requirements before anyone working in school foodservice can become a certified member of the American School Food Service Association (ASFSA). If every child nutrition program employee, which would include directors, supervisors and managers, joined the ASFSA and became certified, many potential sanitation and food borne illness problems would be eliminated. For information about the ASFSA, call 1-800-877-8822 or visit the web site Developing a plan or strategy for your sanitation program is very important. A few ideas are: Post signs about handwashing and temperatures; and serve as an example by developing and practicing good sanitation habits.
I really believe that the question, Can we do something to prevent foodborne illness? is incorrect. The real question is, Can we afford NOT to do something? We all know the correct answer. It is our responsibility to prove to our customers (students, faculty, administrators, and visitors) and employees that we care about the safety of their food. We must provide excellent sanitation training and the tools and equipment to practice good sanitation. In other words, it is our responsibility to make certain that our Foodservice employees Practice What We Teach!