Despite the fact that food safety has been an important issue in the restaurant industry for decades, food borne illnesses are still a major problem in the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that each year 76 million Americans get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 people die from food borne illnesses. The National Restaurant Association forecasts restaurant industry sales will continue to rise in upcoming years making it more important than ever for food safety to be a top priority for restaurants.
Leading Causes of Illnesses
Although significant advancements have been made over the last 20 years to educate food service workers about safe food handling practices, there has been no change since 1984 in the leading three causes of food borne illness attributed to food service workers, those being poor personal hygiene, improper holding temperatures, and improper cooling procedures.
Since the majority of food borne illnesses are attributed to food service workers, and the top contributing factors are related to worker behavior, the importance of making improvements to the training food handlers receive is critical. Education of the food handlers provides more qualified employees, thereby reducing the risk of food borne illness outbreaks caused by improper food preparation and handling techniques.