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Varying Influences of Motivation Factors on Employees' Likelihood To Perform Safe Food Handling Practices Because of Demographic Differences

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Food safety training has been the primary avenue for ensuring food workers are performing proper food handling practices and thus, serving safe food. Yet, knowledge of safe food handling practices does not necessarily result in actual performance of these practices. This research identified participating food service employees' level of agreement with four factors of motivation (internal motivations, communication, reward-punishment, and resources) and determined if respondents with different demographic characteristics reported different motivating factors. Data were collected from 311 food service employees who did not have any supervisory responsibilities. Intrinsic motivation agreement scores were consistently the highest of all four motivational factors evaluated and did not differ across any of the demographic characteristics considered. In contrast, motivation agreement scores for communication, reward-punishment, and resources did differ based on respondents' gender, age, place of employment, job status, food service experience, completion of food handler course, or possession of a food safety certification. In general, respondents agreed that these motivation factors influenced their likelihood to perform various safe food handling procedures. This research begins to illustrate how employees' demographic characteristics influence their responses to various motivators, helping to clarify the complex situation of ensuring safe food in retail establishments. Future research into why employee willingness to perform varies more for extrinsic motivation than for intrinsic motivation could assist food service managers in structuring employee development programs and the work environment, in a manner that aids in improving external motivation (communication, reward-punishment, and resources) and capitalizing on internal motivation.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 300 Agricultural Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0709, USA 2: Iowa State University, 31 MacKay Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-1121, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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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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