Handwash training has long been a priority for foodservice operators and their regulators. Training monies are invested annually even when facing high staff turnover rates, often over 100% per year.
But poor hand hygiene remains the #1 cited contributing factor in foodborne outbreak investigations. This drives continued hand hygiene training in foodservice but calls for a basic change to improve compliance while avoiding the current waste. Sustainable handwashing gains require standards. Behaviors need monitoring.
Three simple standards can be enacted today to start building a new kitchen culture on a foundation for continuous improvement. Management expectations must first be stated and then understood by the food prep team, wait staff and environmental cleaners. Success must be rewarded. If breakdowns occur, progressive disciplines must follow.
Behavior change takes time but training investments are best banked when they follow the seeding of a culture change. Effective culture change is marked by enhanced behaviors as the intuitive response to situations requiring a food safety risk intervention - like handwashing. Monitoring and reporting of handwashing compliance can be keystone in building the new cleanliness culture. It is the tangible daily marker of the team's commitment.
(Presentation originally given at the 2010 Food Safety Education Conference)
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