Training proposed for workers at restaurants that violate food-safety regulations in Ottawa

Food handlers should receive training if their restaurants and businesses repeatedly violate food-safety regulations, says a proposal to go to Ottawa’s board of health.

Except there’s little to no evidence that training works to improve food safety behavior (some call it culture) and little evidence about what makes training effective.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that restaurants and other food premises that have more than four repeat critical infractions over a 12-month period would have to participate in training, according to the proposal from public health staff.

The targeted training would supplement punishment applied to places that break the rules, which can range from fines to closures. (The city also posts the results of inspections on its website, meaning restaurants that violate regulations face the threat of lost business.)

The public health unit currently offers voluntary courses and certification in food-handler training. Staff looked into the possibility of mandatory training for all food handlers, but found it wouldn’t be a worthwhile use of resources.

It’s difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of mandatory certification from other Ontario health units, the report states, and making such requirements mandatory is unwarranted for low-risk establishments such as variety stores.

The board of health is to discuss the proposal on Monday.

Inspection results can be found at

I’m all for providing compelling information so there’s fewer sick people from food. But the days of plopping butts in a classroom are long gone. We’ll have much more to say about the effectiveness of food service  training in the near future.