Why observation studies matter: Inspector alert

Anecdotally, inspectors and operators alike report that stuff, like behaviors, change as soon as the inspector walks in the door. A particularly common practice is for everyone to grab a broom or start washing their hands.

I just saw the precursor to the change in the wild.51P80ZAH19L

Sometimes I need to get off campus to catch up on writing and other stuff. When I’m behind or stuck, I often hit a cafe, a restaurant or a patio and whip out my computer for a couple of hours. There’s something about being in a busy place with lots of background action that helps me focus.

As I sit here at one of my favorite local spots, I heard the manual Mario-Batali-restaurant-inspector-alarm.

A manager just came up to a couple of waitstaff and a cook and said, ‘Just got a text from next door that the health inspector is in the area; make sure all of our logs are filled out and the out-of-date food is chucked.’

Everyone scurried away to take care of stuff that would lead to a bad score. They are currently watching the entrance to see if the inspector is the next through the door.

Inspection reports provide some decent data. But the Hawthorne Effect-esque issue led us to explore other observation data-collection methods.

This entry was posted in Food Safety Culture, Restaurant Inspection and tagged by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.