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Observation Versus Self-Report: Validation of a Consumer Food Behavior Questionnaire

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A reliable and validated set of food safety behavior questions that could be used with confidence when evaluating food safety education programs was identified in this study. A list of 29 food-handling and consumption behaviors rank-ordered within five pathogen control factors by nationally recognized food safety experts was the basis for the development of the behavior questions. Questions were evaluated for reliability and several forms of validity. During a kitchen activity session, 70 graduates of a nutrition education program completed four food preparation tasks while being observed and videotaped. The individuals also participated in an in-depth interview to validate behaviors that could not be observed during the food preparation activity, e. g., refraining from preparing food for others when experiencing diarrhea. Criterion validity was established by comparing questionnaire responses to observed behavior and interview responses. Twenty-eight questions met the validity criterion (≥70% agreement between observed and interviewed responses and self-reported responses), with three or more questions from each of five pathogen control factor areas. Observation assessments revealed that hand washing was more likely to be performed prior to beginning food preparation than between working with raw meats and fresh produce. Errors in methods of washing hands, utensils, and preparation surfaces between food preparation tasks were common. Most participants did not use thermometers to evaluate doneness but still cooked to safe internal temperatures. The results provide a tool that educators can use to evaluate food safety programs and will help guide the development of more effective food safety education programs targeting needed improvements in behavioral skills.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1571 2: Department of Human Nutrition, Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1295 3: Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6376, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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