Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required school food authorities to implement a food safety program based on HACCP principles at each preparation and service facility within the district participating in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program. The purpose of this study was to identify public school foodservice administrators' perceptions of required and/or desired inputs by their districts to comply with the new HACCP-based food safety program mandate.
An electronic survey, developed with input from a national panel of experts, was sent to a stratified, random national sample of public school foodservice administrators (N = 1,850). Respondents (n = 567) provided information regarding large and small equipment purchases, staffing, program development time, training, and assessed attitudes about HACCP/food safety training, HACCP benefits, and challenges. Further, four site observations of elementary and secondary school kitchens were conducted, including district- and site-level management interviews to provide support for national survey findings.
Study results indicated most districts (n = 501-557) did not purchase large equipment items (range of 55% to 90%) because of insufficient funds (n = 87, 72.5%). However, if cost were no object, approximately 60% of respondents would buy blast chillers and warming units (n = 261, n = 267, respectively) and 70% (n = 317) would purchase freezer/cooler alarm systems. These findings indicate there may be the perception that blast chillers, warming units, and freezer/cooler alarm systems are required for a HACCP-based food safety plan, however there is limited research concluding these components are necessary. Large districts purchased more large equipment per site than did small- and medium-sized districts. The majority of school districts (88.2%, n = 468) had purchased thermometers either prior to (70.9%) or after (17.3%) the 2004 mandate, with bi-metallic stemmed thermometers being purchased in the highest quantity (Mdn = 12 per district). Shallow pans (2" deep) were identified by almost 60% (n = 129) of respondents as the item purchased in the greatest quantity on a list of other small equipment, with a median of 21 pans per district. Large districts purchased more small equipment per site than did small districts.
Most respondents (95.4%; n = 392) indicated district foodservices had not hired more staff as a result of the new mandate. There was an increase in food safety training reported for both site-level managers and food assistants. The most frequent provider of the food safety/HACCP training was the district's foodservice staff. The district foodservice director was primarily responsible for writing the original standard operating procedures, using a median of 40 hours for development.
Most respondents (81.4%; n = 413) replied there had not been any additional costs associated with obtaining the required number of annual health inspections. The Western USDA region was found to pay significantly higher fees for health inspections. The reason(s) for this finding are unknown. Using the Kruskal-Wallis test, differences in estimated cost based on year of Coordinated Review Effort (CRE), USDA region, educational level, size of school district, and years of school foodservice experience were investigated. No significant differences were found based on year of CRE. Respondents from the Southeast region purchased significantly more small equipment than did those in the Midwest and Western regions and reported significantly more food safety training hours than did respondents from the Midwest region or from the Mountain Plains region. Respondents with a graduate degree purchased significantly more large and small equipment for their districts than did those with a bachelor's degree. Large school districts reported significantly more food safety training hours for site-level managers than did small districts. Finally, respondents with 26 plus years of school foodservice experience purchased significantly more small equipment items than did respondents with 0-5 years of school foodservice experience.
This study also identified overall challenges to HACCP implementation as perceived by school foodservice administrators. Respondents (n = 292) indicated time (n = 85), paperwork (n = 47), training (n = 38), and money (n = 37) as barriers to HACCP. Although barriers existed, 90% (n = 205) of respondents agreed the food safety federal mandate has resulted in safer food served to children participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Finally, study findings have several implications for practitioners. Those in charge of school meal programs should be sure that there is training on proper use of bi-metallic stemmed thermometers, and need for proper calibration of this widely used food temperature measuring device; maintaining food and equipment temperature monitoring equipment; and work simplification techniques to reduce time associated with monitoring and documenting the plan.
Cynthia Anne Story
Story, Cynthia Anne, "School foodservice administrators' perceptions of required and/or desired inputs to implement a HACCP-based food safety plan: A national study" (2008). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 11008.