Two hundred head chefs and catering managers, responsible for food hygiene in catering establishments, throughout the island of Ireland were surveyed to establish their knowledge of food safety management and practice. Face to face interviews were used to obtain data on training, food storage and delivery, food handling, personal hygiene and cleaning, food preparation and knowledge of relevant bacterial pathogens. Statistical analysis (SPSS) of the data found that: (1) 20% of kitchen staff had no formal training; (2) formal training did not result in improved food safety practices; (3) 78% of head chefs were unaware of current food safety legislation including theirspecific responsibilities; (4) the concept and application of hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) was poorly understood; (5) 22.5% of head chefs did not report safe practices in defrosting frozen and (6) common microbial foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella, were familiar to most interviewees, although few could name the source of these bacteria. The results of this study suggest that although most Irish restaurant head chefs/catering managers have a fundamental knowledge of some aspects of food safety and food safety practice, significant gaps remain, posing real risks to consumer health. It is important that head chefs/catering managers and other personnel in key positions to deliver essential standards in consumer food safety, should be supported through additional training and routine inspection to ensure that appropriate knowledge is acquired and effectively applied.
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- Food safety
- Escherichia coli O157
- Foodborne illness