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J Food Prot. 2004 Mar;67(3):512-6.

Food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among Puerto Rican caretakers living in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Hispanic Health Council, Inc., 175 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, USA.


Household food safety education is needed to minimize the risk of exposure to foodborne pathogens. The Latino population in the United States is growing at a fast rate and has become the largest minority group in this country. However, little research has been done to identify the food safety behavioral risks faced by Puerto Ricans. Ten in-depth household observations and a quantitative survey on food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (n = 100) were conducted to understand food-handling techniques among Puerto Rican caretakers of young children. This was followed by two focus groups (n = 12) to further characterize food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors and the proper media channels for the delivery of food safety education. Even though 97% of survey participants reported washing their hands with soap and water before preparing foods, only 1 of the 10 participants in the household observations actually did it. About 60% of the household participants washed the cutting boards with soap and water compared with 89% of survey participants who claimed to do it. In the survey, 5% reported to know the meaning of cross-contamination, and 71% (n = 80) to use the same cutting board for meats and vegetables. Overall, 96% of survey participants did not use a thermometer to check if meats were cooked properly and only 10% defrosted their meats in the refrigerator. Statistically significant relationships (P < 0.05) were found between speaking English and knowing the meaning of cross-contamination and how to use a meat thermometer. Employed individuals and those with higher education were also more likely to be familiar with the term pasteurization. These results fully justify the delivery of culturally appropriate food safety education in this community.

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