205881 Food Safety Knowledge and Practice of Young Adults on an Urban College Campus

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brian P. Dirks, BS , Department of Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer J. Quinlan, PhD , Department of Biology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Improper food handling is a major cause of foodborne illness. One population that has not been studied extensively is college students. The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge, behavior and attitudes of college undergraduates related to food safety practices. All undergraduate students (approximately 12,000) at an urban college campus were requested via email to participate in an online survey regarding food safety. The survey instrument utilized had been previously developed and piloted by researchers at Rutgers University. A total of 1122 students participated. Of the participants 54% were male, 46% were female and mean age was 21.3. The students represented a range of both majors in college as well as year status. Forty-three percent had previously or currently worked in foodservice. Sixty-three percent knew proper hand washing technique, 49% knew to cook ground beef to 165 oF and 56% knew a thermometer was necessary to cook ground beef safely. Only 46% knew to cook chicken to 180 oF. Only 40% knew that refrigerators should be maintained between 32 and 40oF and 17% knew to reheat leftovers to 165 oF to ensure safety. When looking at behaviors and differences between demographics, 56% of females always washed their hands before preparing food and 70% of females knew the correct way to wash hands compared to 49% and 58% of males, respectively. Significantly more males than females knew proper refrigeration temperature and temperature to cook leftovers for safety. Knowledge to check hamburger temperature with a thermometer was the only increased knowledge seen in foodservice workers. This study indicates that despite their high level of education, young adult populations on college campuses may be lacking in food safety knowledge and practices. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of the internet to obtain large response numbers for this population regarding health knowledge and behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the knowledge, behavior and attitudes of college undergraduates related to food safety practices.

Keywords: Food Safety, Survey

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I collected the data performed statistical analysis of the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Food, Mood & Behavior
See more of: Food and Nutrition