Posted: 08.04.2014 | by AMRA

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Food service industry workers (e.g., cooks, waiters, and busboys) are expected to keep their productivity high and their customers happy under trying circumstances. Maintaining awareness of food safety to prevent the spread of foodborne disease is a central worker role.

In day-to-day operations, workers are expected to be aware of and reject previously thawed deliveries, heat foods to their proper temperature, and maintain hygiene through proper hand washing and food handling. Food service workers do not always follow safety protocols, however, and sometimes get distracted or misjudge priorities.

Betts & Hinsz [Current Psychology] explored the degree to which dispositional mindfulness (as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) might contribute to employees’ attention to safety. Study measures included the dispositional mindfulness, food safety knowledge, and self-reported safety practices of 428 university students who worked at least part-time in the food service industry.

Results from the study showed that knowledge of food safety protocols alone accounted for only 3% of the actual variance in employees’ food safety practices. When dispositional mindfulness and its differential relationship with differing levels of food safety knowledge were taken into consideration, however, about 15% of the variance in food safety was explained. Mindfulness was positively correlated (r = 0.35) with food service safety practice. Especially important was that the less workers actually knew about food safety, the more mindfulness contributed to safety practice.

The study suggests that level of dispositional mindfulness is an important variable in determining the extent to which food service workers safely carry out their work responsibilities, but the study is limited by its reliance on self-report measures and its failure to rule out the impact of social desirability and conscientiousness as competing explanations.

Reference:

Betts, K. R., & Hinsz, V. B. (2014). Mindful attention and awareness predict self-reported food safety practices in the food service industry. Current Psychology.

[Link to abstract]