The Importance of Food Safety Training for Restaurant Employees

Employee cutting fruit in a restaurant

There are several cases of foodborne illness in the United States every year. If you are in the restaurant business, that statistic should worry you. Making a customer sick is a concern for many restaurant owners and chefs.

You might think that food safety is out of your hands. You might think all you can do is your personal best and hope others do the same. However, food safety training can raise the level of professionalism in your kitchen and provide employees with knowledge to hopefully limit the chance of foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne illnesses can ruin your business at best and could cost a customer their life at worst. With this in mind, there is no reason not to be proactive about food safety. For a comprehensive guide about the importance of food safety training and how to raise the standards of your restaurant, read on!

Common Foodborne Illnesses

There are several forms of foodborne diseases in the world. However, most of these can be traced back to the same few pathogens.


Norovirus is the most common cause of food poisoning. Norovirus comes from accidentally consuming tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person. If you have ever eaten something "off" and come down with the stomach flu, the norovirus is likely the culprit.

Easy to transmit and cross-contaminate, Norovirus is a sneaky virus. Norovirus can survive on contaminated surfaces through freezing and hot temperatures, and it can even resist disinfectants.

Norovirus is usually spread by an infected person or a contaminated surface and requires diligent cleaning and care when preparing food to prevent it.


Salmonella is a bacteria that can contaminate almost any food, ranging from meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, or even produce. Drippings from meat or poultry can also contaminate surfaces.

Salmonella causes fever, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting for about a week.

Salmonella is luckily easily killed by cooking and pasteurization. The illness is usually spread by reusing contaminated surfaces. For example, cutting lettuce for a salad on a cutting board that has been used to cut raw chicken.

E. Coli

E. Coli is not as common as you might think, but it does cause serious illnesses. The most serious variety produces toxins that cause bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.

E. Coli is found on undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, and juice, as well as produce. Proper cooking and preparation of ingredients are essential to prevent an E. Coli infection.

Other Common Pathogens

You might be familiar with Listeria, the most lethal (although less common) foodborne illness. Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization, and it flourishes in cold temperatures.

Campylobacter is another type of bacteria, traced to raw poultry and unpasteurized milk. This bacteria can result in Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a neurologic disorder.

Another common type of bacteria is Clostridium Perfringens, which thrives in warm temperatures, but dies in hot temperatures. Meat that is not cooked enough can be the perfect breeding ground for this bacteria.

The Advantages of Food Safety Training

If the last section revolted you, that is actually a good thing. Foodborne illnesses are preventable with a commitment to health, hygiene, and safety.

But where do you start? There's a lot to keep track of here. Which ingredients need to be cooked thoroughly, which surfaces have been contaminated, and how should the kitchen be cleaned?

One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness is to create a culture of cleanliness. You do not have to know the specifics of each illness, but you should consider implementing a system of hygiene and food safety in your restaurant. If you decide to implement a hygiene and food safety system in your restaurant, members of your team should undergo food safety training for restaurant workers.

You may also want to repeat food safety training for employees annually so that employees are reminded of best practices and to allow new members of the team to be brought up to speed on food safety standards.

Restaurant Employee Training

Food safety training usually encompasses the four Cs:

  • Cross-contamination
  • Cleaning
  • Chilling
  • Cooking

The cross-contamination section teaches your employees to prevent bacterial spread between food and surfaces (and back). This is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness. Your staff should learn how to clean surfaces and use equipment that prevents allergens and bacteria.

Different contaminants and surfaces require different detergents and cleaners. The cleaning section of training builds a system for properly washing tableware, surfaces, and equipment. It also highlights the need for regular hand washing and personal hygiene.

In the chilling section, employees will learn which items should be chilled and at what temperatures. In addition, they will create a labeling and storage system in the fridge that prevents cross-contamination and food spoilage.

As you know, different bacteria die at different temperatures. The cooking section will teach your employees how to kill bacteria in each kind of meat, and how to determine if food is fully cooked.

Customer Safety

Comprehensive food safety training could protect your customers from food poisoning and ingredient contamination. It can also prevent allergic reactions by preventing cross-contamination.

Improve Business

Dirty utensils, tables, and restrooms are the top complaints of customers. This is followed by servers with poor hygiene.

Food safety training could teach you how to prevent illnesses and how to establish hygiene standards for your restaurant. Keeping your restaurant clean and spotless could protect your reputation and could prevent or limit negative customer reviews.

Food Insurance

Food safety training can help employees recognize the signs of food spoilage. In the event of food spoilage, business insurance could help. A Business Owners Policy (BOP) from PolicySweet® could cover food spoilage in addition to other items like equipment breakdown. You may want to consider business insurance for your restaurant in case an unexpected event occurs.

Protect Your Restaurant from Foodborne Illness

Now that you know how food safety training could help prevent a catastrophe like foodborne illness, you may want to consider professional food safety training for your business.

It is important to prevent worst-case scenarios from occurring as a business owner, but it also helps to have a backup plan if the worst should happen. Business insurance could help to protect your business in the event of food spoilage or in case something goes awry. Reach out to us at PolicySweet to get a quote for your business or to learn more about business insurance for your restaurant.

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