Evaluation of different food safety education interventions

Yaohua Feng, Christine Bruhn, David Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose – The positive deviance (PD) focus group is a novel educational intervention that allows participants to discuss their food handling behaviors and decide to try recommended practices modeled by people like themselves. Currently, most food safety education is delivered through reading materials. The purpose of this paper is to explore the effectiveness of food safety education utilizing three interventions: PD, personal story reading and reading standard material. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 89 pregnant women and 93 people with diabetes received food safety information through one of three intervention methods: PD, reading standard educational material (Standard) and reading material presented in a story format (Story). A survey assessed self-reported risk and food safety knowledge and personal hygiene before and after the interventions. Take-home assignments allowed participants to practice recommendations. Post class interviews and survey assessed knowledge gained and reported behavior change. Findings – Compared to those who merely read educational information, participants in a PD Intervention had higher knowledge scores and adopted more safe handling recommendations. Involvement of the participants and the length of information exposure likely contributed to the significant difference between the interventions. This suggests that food safety education is most effective when delivered in a supportive discussion format. Health education programs for these vulnerable groups should endeavor to deliver safe food handling guidelines through a PD approach. Originality/value – Previous research demonstrated the effectiveness of PD when delivering nutrition education. This is the first paper that explored the effectiveness of a PD intervention in delivering safe handling recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-776
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2016


  • Consumer
  • Evaluation
  • Food safety education
  • High-risk population
  • Positive deviance
  • Safe food handling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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