‘Tis the season when we’re eating. And we want to be sure that the kitchen staff are following protocols that keep us from getting sick. So how best to help them learn those rules? The answer, it turns out, is to spin a good yarn. Because storytelling techniques can help teach safe kitchen practices, according to a study in the British Food Journal. [Benjamin Chapman, Tanya MacLaurin and Doug Powell, "Food safety infosheets: Design and refinement of a narrative-based training intervention". Also see foodsafetyinfosheets.com]
Researchers led by Ben Chapman at North Carolina State University wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of current food safety instructions. Most of these are prescriptive and are delivered as plain documents.
The researchers interviewed food workers and managers about the instructions. Based on these conversations, they created new versions of the food safety documents.
These updates included real-life stories of outbreaks of food-borne diseases, including what caused the problems and what the consequences were. They had short bites of information and bright, colorful graphics. And they were tailored to the kitchen staff readership and designed to generate discussion.
As a result, food workers were more likely to read the reports, discuss them and retain their lessons. Just shows that even if it’s just about cleaning the cutting board, everyone likes a good tale.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]