An Analysis of Current Standard Operating Procedures for Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce in Retail Foodservice Operations



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In recent years, there has been an increase in foodborne illness outbreaks associated with leafy greens due in part to the increased consumption of raw produce and the fact that pathogenic microorganisms are not killed due to the lack of a kill step such as cooking. The foodservice industry has worked with regulatory agencies diligently to develop and implement food safety training materials for supervisors; however, this material may be too generic for employees who work with fresh and fresh-cut produce. The goal of this study was to identify food handler’s knowledge and behaviors when handling fresh and fresh cut produce in restaurants and grocery stores around the Southeast and Midwest region and to simulate those behaviors through behavioral modeling and microbial sampling experiments to determine validity. The results demonstrated that although all of the 34 establishments observed had fully equipped hand-washing facilities, only 45.2% of the employees washed their hands at any point during the observation. It was also observed that many employees relied on glove changing as an alternative to actually washing their hands. Specifically only 58.1% of employees washed their hands before changing their gloves. When these behaviors were simulated in the lab, it was determined that these practices led to contamination of equipment and ingredients, especially fresh-cut produce. The end goal of this project is to ensure that educational material is relevant, beneficial and readily available to commercial establishments in efforts to reduce the number of foodborne illness outbreaks in relation to fresh and fresh-cut produce and improve overall public health.



Standard Operating Procedures, Behavior based training, Hospitality management