ServSafe certifies 5 million; no evidence it works

About 10 years ago, eldest daughter Madelynn got a job at a local supermarket.

I asked her if she got any food safety training.

“Yeah, we watched a video for 20 minutes, but we all forget that.”

If the daughter of a food safety nerd had such contempt for food safety training, I thought, maybe we should look at what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve reviewed various training packages over the years, and have a paper about a specific training approach coming out, but haven’t done the kind of observational research I’d like to. No one has.

But that doesn’t stop groups from trumpeting the glories of training.

The U.S. National Restaurant Association has offered the food safety training program, ServSafe, for almost 40 years and has now certified 5 million people.

I say some training is better than none, if only for introducing awareness that food safety is an issue. To coach a travel team in little girls’ ice hockey requires 32 or so hours of training; most people serve food with none.

But the more important question is what training or information works and what doesn’t. And collecting meaningful evidence to verify claims.