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Food safety knowledge and behavior of emergency food relief organization workers: effects of food safety training intervention.

An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year in the United States.

It is estimated that each year 325,000 to 500,000 people are hospitalized as a result of foodborne illness in the United States.

An estimated 5,000 to 9,000 people die.

Food safety is particularly critical in emergency food programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters.

Emergency food programs distribute food to a significant number of people who are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness.

In one study, about one in 10 were found to be elderly, and close to 40 percent were children.

Also, the food used in emergency food programs often goes through many hands before being consumed.

Donated food may travel to many points before being stored.

The populations served may practice behaviors that put them at additional risk for foodborne illnesses.

Since populations utilizing emergency food services often lack transportation, the food they carry home in hot weather may be subjected to time-temperature abuse.

They may lack access to refrigeration, electricity, and food thermometers.

Thus, emergency food program workers should be knowledgeable about food safety.

There is a need for relevant and ongoing food safety education for this group.

At emergency food relief organizations in western New York State, volunteer and paid food workers took tests that assessed their food safety knowledge and behaviors.

They were then provided with voluntary training that emphasized basic food safety and prevention of foodborne illness.

Another test was administered after the training.

Results from the pre-test showed major gaps in knowledge and behaviors.

Of particular note were failure to use food thermometers and unsafe use of hands.

The post-test showed significant improvement in knowledge and behaviors.

These results indicate that there is a need for ongoing, on-site food safety education for workers in emergency food services.
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Article Details
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:305
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