Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Unsafe food handling practices are implicated in many restaurant-associated foodborne disease outbreaks. Factors that contribute to unsafe food handling in restaurants include inadequate food safety knowledge, employees who perceive that safe food handling is not under their control, and restaurant cultures that do not prioritize food safety. The purpose of this study was to determine whether temporary restaurant closures were associated with reduced food handling violations after closure in restaurants from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Fraser Health Authority, in British Columbia, Canada. The theoretical foundations used were the health action process approach and the theory of planned behavior. Mixed-effects Poisson regression analyses showed that the typical restaurant had an estimated 16% increase in the average number of overall food handling violations per inspection after temporary closure, compared with before closure. Restaurant- and employee-related factors responsible for unsafe food handling practices likely result in the continuation of unsafe food handling practices, despite temporary restaurant closures. This study may contribute to positive social change by challenging the assumption that temporary restaurant closures motivate food handlers to improve their food handling practices. To protect the public's health, additional interventions must follow temporary restaurant closures for reasons such as insanitary conditions and improper food handling. Suggested interventions include the provision of targeted learning resources to restaurant managers, the issuing of directives requiring food handlers to attend recognized food safety training courses, and environmental health managers requiring a reduction in problematic menu items.