Understanding and predicting food handlers' implementation of specific food safety practices using social cognition models
This thesis reports on the development and application of research tools to understand and predict caterers' implementation of specific food safety practices.
Food handlers' salient beliefs (n=137) identified three specific food safety actions for further investigation: hand hygiene actions, cleaning actions and the appropriate use of utensils when preparing raw and ready to eat foods. A notational analysis coding system was designed and developed. This tool was successful in recording a greater number of cross-contamination events than would have been highlighted using traditional approaches.
One hundred and fifteen food handlers from 29 catering businesses were observed carrying out 31,050 food preparation actions in their workplace. Caterers subsequently completed a knowledge questionnaire and the Food Safety Instrument. The Food Safety Instrument was constructed using constructs from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and the Health Belief Model. Despite a high level of knowledge and positive attitudes towards food safety, food safety malpractices were common. Implementation of hand hygiene and cleaning practices were particularly poor and only two percent of caterers carried out adequate food safety actions at all times.
The TPB provided a useful framework for understanding the factors influencing caterers' implementation of specific food safety practices. Five constructs were identified as predictors of food safety malpractices: attitudes, subjective norms, descriptive norms, perceived behavioural control and intentions. Thus, suggesting that food safety behaviour cannot be improved merely through the provision of information. Food safety initiatives need to encompass a wide variety of factors including the attitudes of caterers, provision of resources and organisational culture.
This thesis is important in furthering our knowledge of the factors that determine specific food safety practices and has practical value, providing a framework for both theoretical developments and practical interventions.
- School of Sport and Health Sciences