Food Safety for Food Handlers in Vienna

Changed on: 02.10.2017

Survey on the food safety knowledge shown by food handlers in Viennese restaurants and catering businesses, 2011/2012

Hygiene in the gastronomy sector

Food handlers play a key role in avoiding hygiene-related food diseases. Employees in kitchens need to know about and comply with certain requirements in relation to personal and kitchen hygiene and food handling.

 

 


About the Survey

An international hygiene study carried out from May 2011 to May 2012 investigated the food safety knowledge of food handlers. A total of 157 kitchen employees in Viennese restaurants and 77 kitchen staff in catering businesses, as well as 98 apprentices in the gastronomy sector, were surveyed as part of a subproject within this study, conducted by AGES. The fields of knowledge included: professional handling of risk foods, correct storage, processing and cooking of foodstuffs, appropriate temperatures when heating or cooling foods, correct way to wash hands and proper conduct when ill.


Survey Highlights

  • There are gaps in knowledge at Viennese restaurants and catering businesses, as well as among apprentices, when it comes to food safety. The food handlers surveyed answered more than a quarter of the questions (28 %) incorrectly. 
  • The participants‘ knowledge on the temperatures for cooking and storing foodstuffs and the growth of microorganisms was unsatisfactory. 
  • More than a quarter (27 %) of the kitchen staff had never taken part in any training at their current workplace, despite legal provisions stating this.  
  • Certified hygiene managers did not know more than non-certified individuals.

Knowledge Gaps

The survey’s aim was to find out the most important gaps in knowledge concerning food safety among food handlers in Vienna and discuss potential differences between employees in restaurants, catering and gastronomy apprentices. The results showed that there are differences in knowledge: apprentices answered only 64 % of the questions correctly. Kitchen staff in Viennese restaurants and catering businesses knew more, answering three quarters of the questions correctly (community catering 75 %; restaurants 76 %).

The majority of the food handlers surveyed failed to answer questions on the temperature range in which pathogens grow particularly well correctly: only 6 percent knew the minimum (5 °C) and 10 percent the maximum temperature (65 °C) for the critical temperature range. More employees in catering (46 %) knew the correct core temperatures (75 °C) when frying burgers than kitchen staff working in restaurants (15 %) or apprentices, of whom no one could give the right answer (0 %). The catering staff  also knew more (52 %) about the core temperature of poultry (also 75 °C) than those working in restaurants (32 %) and apprentices (13 %).

However, the food handlers in restaurants knew more about the correct maximum temperature (4 °C) for storing cold foods, such as cold meats, cheese and also cooked rice than the other two groups (83 % versus 63 % of the catering staff, versus 42 % of apprentices).

Regular Training Necessary

A total of 27 percent of all kitchen staff surveyed had not taken part in any advanced training at their current workplace, despite legal provisions that state this. It was found that the knowledge levels in food handlers without such training were at 68 percent, compared to 82 percent among personnel with advanced training. This underscores the importance of complying with legal regulations. It is mandatory for food handlers in all European Union Member States to attend hygiene training at their current workplace once a year, when starting as a new employee or when changing their area of responsibility.

Moreover, the study found that “certified hygiene managers” knew more (78 %) than non-certified kitchen personnel (70 %) on average. In Austria, a “Hygiene Manager” certificate can be obtained from various advanced training institutes following the successful completion of a number of training modules.


Influencing Factors

Four factors – education, mother tongue, work experience and advanced training at the current workplace – had a significant influence on the level of knowledge at hand.


International Comparison *

Fewer than 20 percent of those surveyed could give a correct answer to the questions on the temperature range at which bacteria and other pathogens grow well and at which minimum core temperature burgers should be fried. Only 6 percent knew the minimum temperature and 10 percent the maximum temperature at which pathogens proliferate. These results were worse than those from the studies carried out in Neuchâtel and Chicago, in which 29 % and 17 % of those questioned knew the lower and 32 percent and 23 percent, respectively, the upper temperature limit for rapid bacterial growth. The knowledge of food handlers in Vienna on the minimum core temperature of hamburgers (19 %) was similar to that found in the studies from Chicago (17 %) and Neuchâtel (22 %).

* Note: only parts of the Austrian survey found their way into the international study. The study group of apprentices was not included in the international comparison or the English publication, for instance.

 

 


Study


Information on further results can be found in the following publications:

German: Vergleich der Studiengruppen Küchenpersonal in Wiener Restaurants und Betrieben der Gemeinschaftsverpflegung sowie von Auszubildenden in der Gastronomie

Fachartikel in „Ernährung aktuell“ 1/2013: Pichler J., Ziegler J., Aldrian, U.: Erhebung des Wissens über Lebensmittelsicherheit von Küchenpersonal in Wiener Restaurants und Betrieben der Gemeinschaftsverpflegung, 2011/2012.

Ziegler J. (2013): Masterarbeit „Erhebung des Wissens über Lebensmittelsicherheit von Küchenpersonal in Wiener Restaurants und Betrieben der Gemeinschaftsverpflegung – Teilnahme an einer internationalen Hygienestudie“; Universität Wien.

English: Vergleich der Studiengruppen Küchenpersonal in Wiener Restaurants und Betrieben der Gemeinschaftsverpflegung (ohne Auszubildende)

Pichler J. et al. Evaluating levels of knowledge on food safety among food handlers from restaurants and various catering businesses in Vienna, Austria 2011/2012. Food Control 35 2014: 33-40 Link to the study.


Links

Internationale Hygienestudie (Chicago/USA; Bozen/IT, Neuchantel/CH)

Chicago/USA: Link zur Studie

Panchal PK, Liu L, Dworkin Ms. Food safety knowledge is lower among Spanish-speaking than among English-speaking restaurant food handlers in Chicago. Food Protect Trends 2012, 32(1): 16–25.

Neuchâtel/Schweiz: Link zur Studie

Bonhôte P. Élévation du niveau d’hygiène dans la restauration. Master in Advanced Studies Food Safety Services, Universität Basel, 2011.

Further Links

Verordnung (EG) Nr. 852/2004 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 29. April 2004 über Lebensmittelhygiene Link zur Verordnung

BMG - Leitlinie für Großküchen, Küchen des Gesundheitswesens und vergleichbare Einrichtungen der Gemeinschaftsverpflegung: Link zur Leitlinie

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