Food Safety 101 for College Undergraduates

Article ID: 562546

Released: 22-Mar-2010 4:50 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

Newswise — College students may not start out with the best food safety practices, but they quickly learn the proper way to prepare and store food with the right information and education in place, according to a new study in the Journal of Food Science Education, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, studied the effects of an implemented social marketing campaign to evaluate its effectiveness in promoting safe food handling among more than 1100 college undergraduate students. They also identified what aspects of the campaign were most effective. Although the students reported high levels of confidence in their ability to engage in safe food handling practices, their actual knowledge levels and self-reported behaviors indicate that they are not successfully engaging in safe food handling practices.

Almost 50 percent of the study participants reported either working or having worked previously in the food industry, which demonstrates the importance of reaching this population early for food safety education. Previous research has noted that young adults are less likely to read food handling instructions on raw meat and poultry than the general population. Students are also less likely to be aware of proper hand washing and storage of leftovers.

A four-week food safety social marketing campaign, previously developed by researchers at Rutgers University, was conducted to study the effectiveness of food safety education among students. The campaign focused on proper hand washing, food preparation methods, and food refrigeration and storage. Each week included educational events, posters, tabletop displays, flyers, mass e-mails, and campus newspaper ads that addressed each of the food safety topics.

Lead researcher Jennifer Quinlan states, "Post-campaign survey results indicated increases in food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, particularly with respect to appropriate temperatures for cooking and refrigeration, and [we] found that direct e-mails and posters may be the most effective ways to communicate food safety messages to this demographic."

To receive a copy of the study, please contact Jerry Bowman.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit ift.org.

© 2010 Institute of Food Technologists

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