The Daily News-Tribune out of Waltham, Massachusetts, published a guest column by Doug Powell, Ph. D., Scientific Director for the International Food Safety Network today.  Dr. Powell’s message was that all food handlers should undergo some kind of food safety training before being allowed to work in restaurants.  He argues that if children’s hockey league coaches have to report for a few hours of training, it makes sense to have mandatory food safety training for food workers:

There should be mandatory food handler training, for say, three hours, that could happen in school, on the job, whatever. But training is only a beginning. Just because you tell someone to wash the poop off their hands before they prepare salad for 100 people doesn’t mean it is going to happen; weekly outbreaks of hepatitis A confirm this.

Next is to verify that training is being translated into safe food handling practices through inspection and those inspection results should be publicly available.

Various jurisdictions are using a blend of websites, letter or numerical grades on doors and providing disclosure on request. In Denmark, smiley or sad faces are affixed to restaurant windows. Publicly available grading systems rapidly communicate to diners the potential risk in dining at a particular establishment and restaurants given a lower grade may be more likely to comply with health regulations in the future to prevent lost business.

More importantly, such public displays of information help bolster overall awareness of food safety among staff and the public. People routinely talk about this stuff.

The interested public can handle more, not less, information about food safety. The best restaurants, those with nothing to hide and everything to be proud of, will go ahead and make their inspection scores available – today