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J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Nov;101(11):1326-39.

Identification and classification of consumer food-handling behaviors for food safety education.

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  • 1The Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210-1295, USA.



To identify key behaviors associated with major food safety pathogen control factors.


World Wide Web-based descriptive study with 4 tasks: compile a list of food-handling behaviors from the literature; use Delphi process to build consensus, rank order, and edit lists of behaviors; assess content and construct validity; and review results of Delphi process at a summit meeting of selected experts to make final recommendations for a food safety behavior list.


A convenience sample of 10 epidemiologists, 11 food microbiologists, 10 food safety educators, and 10 food safety policy makers was recruited from lists of nationally known experts. Twenty-four experts completed 4 rounds of surveys presented to them via a Web site. Six experts attended a face-to-face meeting to finalize behavior lists. Statistical analyses performed Descriptive statistics and sum of observation data were used to determine rank order and validity.


Twenty-nine key food-handling behaviors for maintaining the safety of food and reducing the number of cases and outbreaks of foodborne illness were identified. These were rank-ordered within 5 pathogen control factors: practice personal hygiene, cook foods adequately, avoid cross-contamination, keep foods at safe temperatures, and avoid foods from unsafe sources.


This list of rank-ordered behaviors grouped by pathogen control factor should help dietitians and educators confidently teach food safety guidance that will be most effective in preventing illness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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