With the new school year fast approaching, it should be a reminder to take the time to properly train and educate food handlers about food safety. Not only just to pass the test and get certified, but to live it, breathe it and foster a culture. Food safety has to be part of the daily routine, not just because the boss is coming for a visit or suddenly the health inspector is at the front door. Fire drills should be avoided. Food safety should be properly managed, not the inspection. People often forget what they learn in food safety class if it is not applied to a task with any regular frequency and monitored. If they do not understand the consequences of potential illness or are taught in a manner that fosters a “buy in” to the concept, rest assured that most of the information will not be retained. Hands-on training in a working environment are just as important and more successful for some people. Yes, it is a two-way street: the individual must put forth the effort and want to learn. The reality is that there are language barriers, cultural differences, labor constraints, no sense of urgency and a general feeling of, “That ain’t my job,” when it comes to food safety education. When I once asked a food handler for their thermometer to check it for calibration and they handed me a roll of sanitizer test strips, that’s a problem. That’s as basic as it comes and reveals how badly the food safety training was neglected. Think about how easily things can spiral out of control with that gross lack of knowledge. Thermal abuse, food contact surfaces, chemical use, and so on and so forth — things can get risky real quick. We cannot just have a warm body processing food anymore since so much more is involved. Regardless of the excuse, food safety has to be part of the job description and followed up by everyone in the organization. If management puts it on the back burner or not high enough on the priority list, how do they expect the people who actually process the food to feel? Best practices and increased education should involve everyone. In the end, the best aspect of teaching food safety should be reality. Putting consumer’s health potentially at risk should always be explained, along with the liability that follows. Sometimes it is the eye-opening truth that inevitably gets the point across.