The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 76 million cases of foodborne disease annually. Foodborne disease is usually associated with beef, poultry, and seafood. However, there is an increasing number of foodborne disease cases related to fresh produce. Consumers may not associate fresh produce with foodborne disease or recognize that these foods require safe handling. To address this learning need, a 1-h educational program was developed and evaluated. Extension agents in 69 Texas counties presented the program to participants. Most participants (n = 2651) were female (89.5%), Caucasian (60.5%), and over age 55 (62%). Participants completed a traditional pretest and then a retrospective posttest at conclusion of the program to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to fresh produce safety. Participants' behaviors and attitudes were assessed using a 5-point scale. To measure the longer-term impact of the program, a follow-up telephone survey was conducted among a random sample (n = 426) of participants. Repeated measures ANOVA, t-tests, and eta-squared were used to determine significant differences. Immediate posttest results indicated improved knowledge and attitudes regarding specific fruit and vegetable safety recommendations. Long-term improvement was also noted for food safety behaviors, but not for overall food safety attitudes. The results suggest that this educational program is an effective tool to teach consumers about safe handling of fresh produce.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science