NEHA interviewed Davene Sarroco-Smith, REHS/RS about the project and the engaging content that was produced.
NEHA: What inspired the Food Safety Ninja videos, and how did this project come together?
Davene: We were seeking a large FDA grant and wanted to convey food safety in an innovative way and partner with a member of our community. We partnered with the Cleveland Institute of Art. A professor built an entire course curriculum around this project. The three senior sanitarians met with the students as they developed the videos. The Ninja and Shaggy characters were their creations.
NEHA: How did Lake County determine the most important topics for the videos? Was this a collaborative effort or did the department work together?
Davene: The bulk of the FDA grant was to accomplish Standard 9 of the Voluntary National Retail Program Standards. We did the baseline survey and took into consideration the 5 CDC risk factors for foodborne illness and arrived at these six food safety categories. The videos were made as a tool to use to help educate our food operators.
As of the middle of this March, as the sanitarians do their food establishment inspections, if an establishment has a violation in any of the six categories they are given a postcard. The postcard directs them to the FoodSafetyNinja.org website that was also created as a part of the FDA grant. They are required to complete the educational modules as part of their corrective action. The videos are one of three components in a module. The other components are a short narrative and a 5 question quiz with rotating questions and answer positions. Each location logs in under an assigned number so we can track that the modules have been completed and passed. The usage is constant.
NEHA: Have the videos been successful and utilized often?
Davene: We have received a lot of positive feedback from industry and regulatory about our videos. Once we have used the videos, modules, and new educational materials for a year, we will re-survey our establishments in the hopes that we have improved food safety in Lake County, Ohio. The website and its contents are accessible to anyone not just licensed operators that were sent there for corrective action.
What brought you (and any others you’d like to share these questions with) to the profession of environmental health?
Food Safety is an integral part of the work that is done at NEHA. For decades, NEHA has worked closely with health departments in every state to offer the most up-to-date food-safety information and to keep abreast of food-safety trends. NEHA offers food safety learning materials and credentials for all professionals in the culinary and hospitality industries. In addition, NEHA Food Safety Instructors train those starting out in the culinary and hospitality industries to become knowledgeable about best food safety practices. Find more fun food safety resources, info sheets, and videos at the Food Safety Tools page.