Behavioral observation and microbiological analysis of older adult consumer's cross-contamination practices in a model domestic kitchen
Evans, Ellen W.
Journal of Food Protection
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Older adults are associated with increased incidence of foodborne illness due to increased susceptibility. Therefore, food safety practices are of importance. However, inadequate knowledge and negative attitudes towards food safety have been reported, which may increase implementation of unsafe food handling practices. Data on older adults’ actual food safety behaviors are lacking. This study aims to observe older adults’ food safety practices and link microbiological analysis of kitchen surfaces to identify suspected routes of contamination. Older adults (≥60years) (n=100) prepared a set-meal in a model domestic kitchen sanitized according to a validated protocol to ensure minimal and consistent microbiological load. Food safety behaviors were observed using ceiling-mounted cameras and recorded using a predetermined behavioral checklist. Post-food preparation, surface microbiological contamination was determined. Overall, older adults frequently implemented unsafe food handling practices, 90% failed to implement adequate hand decontamination immediately after handling raw chicken. Statistical analysis suggest that older adults that implemented a greater number of adequate hand decontamination attempts had significantly lower (p <0.001) microbiological contamination of the kitchen following the food preparation session. The novel utilization of behavioral observation in conjunction with microbiological analysis has facilitated identification of potentially unsafe food handling practices as suspected routes of microbiological cross-contamination in a model domestic kitchen. Findings indicate the potential impact of older adult consumers’ unsafe food handling practices on domestic food safety. This innovative approach has determined that considerable proportions of older adults implement behaviors resulting in microbiological cross-contamination that may increase the risk of foodborne illness in the home.
Evans, E.W. & Redmond, E.C. (2018) “Behavioral observation and microbiological analysis of older adult consumer's cross-contamination practices in a model domestic kitchen.” Journal of Food Protection
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