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From Theory to Plate: Exploring Food Safety through the Eyes of Aspiring Dietitians

Dearest Tactical Readers,

Ilic and colleagues discussed the need for dietitians to be properly educated on food safety and that need was a bit shocking.(1) A majority (34%) of dietetics programs don't require a food safety certification for their students. Eastern Michigan University, where I went for my B.S. & M.S. in Dietetics, does require one. Each and every one of my cohort members and myself are ServSafe Manager Certified. In contrast, most hospitality programs do (70%) require one.

I was also surprised that my foodservice rotation at a big name hospital near me did not require chefs to be certified. On-the-job training is great, if properly given and received, but this certification allows for a higher level of confidence that patients and customers are receiving the highest quality and safety foods possible.

However, the Ilic and colleagues article brought up a good question; How many future RDs renew their certifications? I plan to renew mine, when the time comes, as I want to stay current in food safety recommendations for my clients and for myself.

More on the Ilic and colleagues study:

The researchers used a 5-point Likert scale for their cross sectional survey on people 18-years-old, or older that were enrolled in a dietetics program in the United States (Ohio), the United Kingdom, and in Lebanon. They had a large sample size of 208 people, with a majority of them being in their 2nd or 3rd year of their program, were full time students between the ages of 18 and 29-years-old, and females. 87.9% of participants agreed that food safety is of high importance for adult vulnerable populations in comparison to populations that are healthy adults. 

Vulnerable groups include pregnant populations, elders, and people with immunocompromised conditions and/or receiving immunocompromising treatments (e.g., HIV, cancer, chemotherapy, and transplants). In Lebanon, 41% of the students noted that they were skeptical that populations that were vulnerable are at a higher risk compared to healthy populations when it came to suffering from food borne illnesses. This highlights the need for education on handwashing, raw fruit juice and smoothie consumption, sick people preparing food items, awareness of future RD perceptions to future RDs, and the need for building confidence in foodservice information spreading abilities.


1. Ilic S, Alwan N, Redmond EC, Evans EW. Dietetics student perceptions of food safety communication to vulnerable populations: An international study. J Food Prot. 2023;87(1):100203. doi:10.1016/j.jfp.2023.100203

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