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J Food Prot. 2015 Nov;78(11):2033-42. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-084.

Evaluating North Carolina Food Pantry Food Safety-Related Operating Procedures.

Author information

1
Department of Public Policy, Abernethy Hall, Campus Box 3435, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA. chaifetz@gmail.com.
2
Department of Youth, Family, and Community Sciences, Campus Box 7606, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.

Abstract

Almost one in seven American households were food insecure in 2012, experiencing difficulty in providing enough food for all family members due to a lack of resources. Food pantries assist a food-insecure population through emergency food provision, but there is a paucity of information on the food safety-related operating procedures used in the pantries. Food pantries operate in a variable regulatory landscape; in some jurisdictions, they are treated equivalent to restaurants, while in others, they operate outside of inspection regimes. By using a mixed methods approach to catalog the standard operating procedures related to food in 105 food pantries from 12 North Carolina counties, we evaluated their potential impact on food safety. Data collected through interviews with pantry managers were supplemented with observed food safety practices scored against a modified version of the North Carolina Food Establishment Inspection Report. Pantries partnered with organized food bank networks were compared with those that operated independently. In this exploratory research, additional comparisons were examined for pantries in metropolitan areas versus nonmetropolitan areas and pantries with managers who had received food safety training versus managers who had not. The results provide a snapshot of how North Carolina food pantries operate and document risk mitigation strategies for foodborne illness for the vulnerable populations they serve. Data analysis reveals gaps in food safety knowledge and practice, indicating that pantries would benefit from more effective food safety training, especially focusing on formalizing risk management strategies. In addition, new tools, procedures, or policy interventions might improve information actualization by food pantry personnel.

PMID:
26555527
DOI:
10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-084
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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