Changing the layout of farmers markets can affect cross-contamination

Karla M. Acosta, Zahra H. Mohammad, Heyao Yu, Kristen Kirkwood, Kristen Gibson, Jack A. Neal, Sujata A. Sirsat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the layout has an effect on cross-contaminations levels at farmers markets. Design/methodology/approach: We used social cognitive theory's triadic reciprocity model to investigate how influencing the environment could change the behaviors of farmers’ market consumers and reduce the risk of microbial cross-contamination using a Fluorescent Compound (FC). For this purpose, a 3 × 2 experimental between-subject factorial design was utilized in this study: three farmers market layouts (i.e. U-shaped [U-S], L-shaped [L-S] and square-shaped [S–S]) and two different set-ups per market (i.e. produce and non-produce vendors completely separated, and alternating produce and non-produce vendors). FC was utilized to simulate microbial contamination on the participants (n = 54) hands. The participants were allowed to walk through the layout for 3 min and touch items after which a total of 475 swab samples were processed and recorded for absorbance levels. Findings: The results indicated that the cross-contamination level of the U-S market was significantly lower (p < 0.001) than those of the L-S and S–S markets. The best market layout and set-up based on the average levels of simulated cross-contamination were the U-S market, particularly with the A set-up, where produce and non-produce booths were scattered. Originality/value: This study is the first to use the quantification of FC to identify the impact of a farmers’ market layout/design on cross-contamination levels. These results can be used to provide guidance to market managers on layout and design from a safety standpoint to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBritish Food Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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