Use of Health Belief Model Variables To Examine Self-Reported Food Handling Behaviors in a Sample of U.S. Adults Attending a Tailgate Event

December 2015
Journal of Food Protection;Dec2015, Vol. 78 Issue 12, p2177
Academic Journal
Unsafe food handling behaviors are common among consumers, and, given the venue, individuals attending a tailgating event may be at risk for foodbome illness. The objective of this study was to measure the association between Health Belief Model variables and self-reported usual food handling behaviors in a convenience sample of men and women at a tailgate event. Participants (n = 128) completed validated subscales for self-reported food handling behaviors (i.e., cross-contamination, sanitation), perceived threat of foodborne illness (i.e.. perceived severity, perceived susceptibility), and safe food handling cues to action (i.e., media cues, educational cues). Perceived severity of foodbome illness was associated with safer behaviors related to sanitation (r = 0.40; P < 0.001) and cross-contamination (/- = 0.33; P = 0.001). Perceived severity of foodbome illness was also associated with exposure to safe food handling media cues (r=0.20; P = 0.027) but not with safe food handling educational cues. A large proportion of participants reported that they never or seldom (i) read newspaper or magazine articles about foodbome illness (65.6%); (ii) read brochures about safe ways to handle food (61.7%); (iii) see store displays that explain ways to handle food (51.6%); or (iv) read the "safe handling instructions" on packages of raw meat and poultry (46.9%). Perceived severity of foodbome illness was positively related to both dimensions of safe food handling as well as with safe food handling media cues. Except for the weak correlation between media cues and perceived severity, the relationships between safe food handling cues and perceived threat, as well as between safe food handling cues and behaviors, were nonsignificant. This finding may be due, in part, to the participants' overall low exposure to safe food handling cues. The overall results of this study reinforce the postulate that perceived severity of foodbome illness may influence food handling behaviors.


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