A camera's view of consumer food-handling behaviors.J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Feb; 104(2):186-91.JA
To compare consumer food-handling behaviors with the Fight BAC! consumer food-safety recommendations.
Subjects were videotaped in their home while preparing a meal. Videotapes were coded according to Fight BAC! recommendations. A food-safety survey was administered and temperature data was collected.
A market research company randomly recruited subjects by telephone. Ninety-nine consumers participated (92 women, seven men).
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS PERFORMED
Descriptive statistics were used.
Overall, subjects did not follow the Fight BAC! recommendations for safe food handling. Handwashing was inadequate. The average hand wash length was significantly lower than the 20-second recommendation. Only one-third of subjects' hand wash attempts were with soap. Surface cleaning was inadequate with only one-third of surfaces thoroughly cleaned. Moreover, one-third of subjects did not attempt to clean surfaces during food preparation. Nearly all subjects cross-contaminated raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and/or unwashed vegetables with ready-to-eat foods multiple times during food preparation. Unwashed hands were the most common cross-contamination agent. Many subjects undercooked the meat and poultry entrees. Very few subjects used a food thermometer.
Consumers make many food-handling errors during food preparation, increasing their risk of foodborne illness. Dietetics professionals need to familiarize themselves with the Fight BAC! consumer food-safety recommendations; understand where consumers are making food-handling errors; increase food safety awareness; and educate consumers, especially those in high-risk populations, about safe food handling at home.