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Food Safety Knowledge and Behavior of Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Participants in Arizona

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Consumer education is one of the focus points to reduce foodborne illness within the food safety continuum ''from farm to table.'' A survey was conducted to determine the food safety knowledge and practices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program participants in Maricopa and Pima counties of Arizona. Two hundred sixty-eight surveys were completed between 1 January and 31 December 1998. Survey participants consisted of 222 (85%) females and 39 (15%) males with an average age and education level of 31.5 and 11.7 years, respectively. The racial characteristics of this group included 53% whites, 32% Hispanics, 22% African-Americans, and 7% other. A majority of the survey participants (67%) were either unsure or felt it was appropriate to let food cool to room temperature prior to refrigeration. In addition 56% were in disagreement with or unsure about the need to cool foods in shallow containers. Fifty-two percent of respondents reported having no previous formal food safety education; for those who had, work was the most common source. Television news was the primary source of current food safety information for 50% of respondents. The most commonly consumed high-risk (i.e., raw or undercooked animal food or food purchased from unlicensed vendor) food was unpasteurized dairy products. Women scored significantly better than men on food safety knowledge and practice test parameters. Participants over age 50 had significantly higher food safety practice scores than the youngest age group. The food safety knowledge score of whites was significantly higher than that of Hispanics. It was determined for all participants that the food safety knowledge score had a small, positive effect on food safety practice score.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 309 Shantz Building, Department of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0038, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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