Food Safety Certification and Knowledge

EHS-Net Recommends

Future prevention efforts should focus on

  • Encouraging certification of managers and workers.
  • Applying food safety training programs that adequately address the needs of employees with limited English speaking and reading skills. The Food and Drug Administration provides educational materials for retail food employeesexternal icon.
  • Ensuring that independent and smaller restaurants have access to food safety training programs and are encouraged to use them.
Image of a food safety certificate.

Why This Study Was Done

More than half of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States are related to restaurants or delis.

Sick food workers have been linked with past foodborne illness outbreaks.

To combat restaurant-related outbreaks, many public health agencies encourage or require food safety certification for restaurant kitchen managers and sometimes workers.

Food safety certification efforts are based on the belief that certification leads to greater food safety knowledge. But we need to know more about the link between certification and knowledge.

What the Study Described

The purpose of this study was to examine the link between food safety certification and food safety knowledge. We also examined the link between knowledge and other things, like restaurant traits and job experience.

What the Study Found

Managers and workers who had been certified in food safety were more likely to pass a food safety knowledge test than those who were not certified. Additionally, managers and workers whose primary language was English were more likely to pass a knowledge test than those whose primary language was not English.

Other factors linked with passing the knowledge test included working in a chain restaurant, working in a larger restaurant, having more job-related experience, and having more job duties.

For both managers and workers, greater food safety knowledge was related to

  • Being certified in food safety
  • Speaking English as a primary language

For managers, greater food safety knowledge was related to

  • Having more manager experience
  • Working in a chain restaurant
  • Working in a larger restaurant.

For workers, greater food safety knowledge was related to

  • Having a manager with greater food safety knowledge
  • Speaking English as a primary language
  • Having a lot of job duties.
What Is EHS-Net?

This study was conducted by the Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net). EHS-Net is a federally funded collaboration of federal, state, and local environmental health specialists and epidemiologists working to better understand the environmental causes of foodborne illness.

Want More Information?

Restaurant Manager and Worker Food Safety Certification and Knowledge pdf icon[PDF – 485 KB] (scientific article this plain language summary is based on)

Food Safety Certification and Knowledge pdf icon[PDF – 242 KB] (fact sheet version of this page)

Kitchen Manager Certification Study and Food Safety (plain language summary of another article on certification)

Food Safety Differences Between Restaurants Linked and Not Linked to Outbreaks (plain language summary of another article on certification)

Restaurant Traits Linked with Safer Ground Beef Preparation and Cooking Practices (plain language summary of another article with findings related to certification)

Restaurant Manager and Worker Food Safety Certification Study (study information)

More EHS-Net publications by Study Topic

More Food Safety Study Findings in Plain Language

Page last reviewed: June 18, 2019