Identifying Food Safety Concerns When Communication Barriers Exist



Abstract:  Students must be prepared to lead a diverse workforce. The objective of this study was to establish a teaching method that helps students identify barriers to food safety while working in a simulated environment with communication barriers. This study employed a perspective taking exercise based upon the principles of social learning theory. Students were randomly assigned as a “manager” or an “employee.” The managers were provided with a recipe and instructions in English and employees were provided with the recipe and instructions in an abstract, non-English language. Students were instructed to prepare the recipe in silence using only nonverbal communication methods. Three teaching techniques were employed under this scenario to determine the most effective method of instruction. For the 1st method (Barrier Identification), students were asked to complete an open-ended survey concerning their communication barriers in regards to food safety. Next (Modeling through Pictures), recipe books with pictures of each recipe with food safety icons were provided to half of the participants. In the 3rd scenario (Observation), students were videotaped to identify communication techniques and to identify common food safety violations. Lastly, a focus group was conducted, whereby students were required to reflect upon the experiment in order to identify specific food safety barriers. Students identified communication challenges to food safety and developed techniques to help overcome language barriers. However, the use of pictures did not increase the frequency of proper food handling procedures. This study found that a combination of gestures and demonstrations were the most valuable nonverbal forms of training.