In 2011, researchers from two Brazilian universities published a study about the teaching methods used to train food handlers and managers about food safety. They found that hands-on activities and interactive media were the most successful in helping employees understand food safety principles and in changing employees’ attitudes and behavior toward food safety.
A separate study, conducted by the University of Colorado – Denver, showed that computer simulations were 17% more effective than lectures and discussions in helping trainees learn, retain, and apply information.
Simply put, simulations make training more effective because they force students to take an active role in learning. To succeed in the simulation, they have to think critically about how to apply the principles they just learned. This better prepares them to apply their knowledge in real life.
Why effective training is important
Since the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, it can be easy to take food safety for granted. But mistakes and accidents happen, resulting in periodic food recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks. When they do occur, they can have a drastic impact not just on your finances, but on your brand image.
As the manager of a foodservice or retail food business, you know your workers can make or break the way customers see your company. When workers are committed to food safety, it reduces the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks and contributes to your company’s overall reputation for good, safe food.
To help your workers make that commitment, it’s vital to provide them with effective food safety training that helps them understand their part in keeping food safe. To really change their behavior, teaching them what to do isn’t enough — they must understand why things are done a certain way.
How we use simulation-based learning to improve understanding and retention
At StateFoodSafety, we design all of our training programs based on proven teaching methods like computer simulations.
For example, our food handlers training includes simulation games about cooking food to correct temperatures and identifying TCS (time/temperature control for safety) foods. In our food allergen awareness training, learners have an opportunity to practice talking to customers with food allergies.
There are also several simulations in our training courses for alcohol servers and sellers. Each one helps the learner practice an essential skill, such as checking IDs, slowing alcohol service, and preventing people from driving drunk.
Emilee Follett, editor-in-chief at StateFoodSafety, explained the benefits of including simulation activities this way:
“In the food and alcohol service industries, mistakes can have serious, sometimes fatal consequences. Simulation-style interactivities give learners a safe space to practice what they’ve learned in ways that mimic real life and reinforce positive behavior but don’t present harm to the consumer.”
Check out one of our simulation activities for yourself in our food handler demo.
To learn more about our corporate food safety training solutions, please feel free to contact us.
— Jessica Pettit