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Food Safety Hazards Lurk in the Kitchens of Young Adults

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Food mishandling in home kitchens likely causes a significant amount of foodborne disease; however, little is known about the food safety hazards lurking in home kitchens. The purposes of this study were to audit the kitchens of young adults with education beyond high school to identify food safety problems and develop recommendations for education efforts. Researchers developed a criterion-referenced home kitchen observation instrument to assess compliance of home food storage and rotation practices (e.g., temperature), sanitation and chemical storage, and general kitchen condition (e.g., infestation) with recommended practices. The instrument contained seven scales: Kitchen Cleanliness (eight items), Appliance Cleanliness (three items), Cleaning Supplies Availability (eight items), Temperatures (Food Thermometer Access & Refrigerator/Freezer Temperatures) (five items), Cold Food Storage (seven items), Dry Food Storage (eight items), and Poisons Storage (two items). Descriptive statistics were conducted to describe the study population, as a whole, and by gender. A total of 154 young adults (mean age, 20.7 ± 1.3 SD) enrolled in a northeastern university participated. Participants scored 70% or higher on Poisons Storage, Dry Food Storage, Kitchen Cleanliness, and Cleaning Supplies Availability scales but less than 60% on the Appliance Cleanliness and Cold Food Storage scales. Performance was lowest on the Temperatures scale. Females scored significantly higher than males on the Kitchen Cleanliness and Cleaning Supply Availability scales. Average refrigerator and freezer temperatures were higher than recommendations. Food safety education targeted at this young adult population needs to evolve into focused messages pertaining to the key food safety violations in this population.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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