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Food Safety Knowledge and Practices of Low Income Adults in Pennsylvania

Wenrich, Tionni, Cason, Katherine, Lv, Nan, Kassab, Cathy
Food protection trends 2003 v.23 no.4 pp. 326-335
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, adults, cooling, cutting boards, education programs, eggs, food safety, foodborne illness, foods, low income households, males, nutrition education, people, risk, surveys, temperature, washing, Pennsylvania
The purpose of this study was to assess the food safety knowledge and behavior of low income adult audiences. One hundred thirty-nine usable surveys were received from participants in the Pennsylvania Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP). The 58 survey questions included items related to three scales measuring (i) knowledge of food safety, (ii) consumption of high risk foods, and (iii) food safety practices. Results indicate that certain risky food practices and beliefs are fairly common among this population. Temperature abuse was a frequent problem. The majority of respondents (65%) incorrectly thought food should be allowed to cool before being placed in the refrigerator and 64% did not acknowledge that keeping the refrigerator above 40°F will make food poisoning more likely. Respondents tended to indicate that they infrequently ate high-risk foods; however, the most frequently consumed high- risk foods were those made at home from raw/undercooked eggs. Persons with higher income levels and males consumed certain risky foods Significantly more often than other respondents did. On average, respondents indicated that they "usually" engaged in food safety practices that prevent cross- contamination. Of these practices, respondents were least likely to wash cutting boards with disinfectant or in the dishwasher between using them for different foods, Older respondents were most likely to engage in safe food procedures. Information obtained from this study may provide direction to EFNEp, FSNEp, and other nutrition education programs for more effective educational programming in food safety.