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Assessment of Knowledge and Behavior Change of a High School Positive Deviance Food Safety Curriculum

Feng, Yaohua, Bruhn, Christine M., Elder, Gary, Boyden, Dawn
Journal of food science education 2019 v.18 no.2 pp. 45-51
behavior change, color, compliance, cooking, curriculum, food handling, food safety, food service, ground beef, hamburgers, high school students, high schools, teachers, thermometers
High school students are a critical audience for food safety. Students may enter the foodservice industry or become primary meal preparers for their families. The positive deviance food safety curriculum was developed based on the messages from the Fight BAC! Campaign. The curriculum is designed for high school students to overcome barriers to safe food handling practices. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the positive deviance approach to change food safety knowledge and behaviors among high school students. Students (n = 218) from two high schools participated in this study. The positive deviance method uses group discussions lead by the teacher who reinforces and praises behaviors, which reflect recommended food handling practices. Measurements included pre‐ and postsurveys, preobservations and postobservation cooking classes, take‐home tasks, and in‐class activities. Results indicated that the curriculum significantly increased students’ food safety knowledge. Specifically, the percentage of students believing that color was a good indicator of meat doneness dropped from 52% to 17% after exposure to the curriculum. When observed, the students’ compliance with recommended behaviors increased. Prior to instruction, most ground beef burgers students cooked did not reach 160°F, while after the intervention, almost all of the burgers reached 160°F or higher. The curriculum will benefit from a revision that emphasizes areas such as how to use, calibrate, and to clean food thermometers.