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Identification of Unique Food Handling Practices That Could Represent Food Safety Risks for Minority Consumers

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Foodborne illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter is a concern for consumers, and there is evidence that minority racial-ethnic populations experience greater rates of illness because of these pathogens. The limited body of research concerning food safety knowledge and practices among minority consumers has focused more on general food safety knowledge than on culturally specific food handling practices. The purpose of the research reported here was to explore food handling behaviors of minority racial-ethnic consumers through in-depth discussions in focus group settings. In this way, we hoped to identify potential unique, previously unidentified food handling practices among these consumers. Nine focus groups were held in Philadelphia, PA. Three focus groups were conducted with African American consumers, three with Hispanic consumers, and three with Asian consumers. In all, 56 consumers participated. Data were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for unique and potentially unsafe food handling behaviors. Potentially unsafe food handling practices identified among all three groups included extended time to transport food from retail to home and washing of raw poultry. Culturally unique behaviors within groups included (i) using hot water (Asian, Hispanic) or acidic solutions (African American, Hispanic) to clean raw poultry, (ii) purchasing live poultry (Asian, Hispanic), (iii) cooking poultry overnight (African American), and (iv) preparing bite-size pieces of meat prior to cooking (Asian, Hispanic). To have focus groups include a limited number of participants and nonrandom sampling means that these themes and trends cannot be extrapolated to represent food mishandling among these populations in general. Results presented here allow modification of an existing food safety survey to identify the prevalence of these food handling practices among consumers of different demographics.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA 2: Department of Culture and Communication, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA 3: Department of Biology, Department of Nutrition Sciences, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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