Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management


Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Lakshman Rajagopal


Young children are considered a high risk population for foodborne illness. Furthermore, children attending child care facilities are four times more likely to contract a foodborne illness than other children. Research has shown that increased food safety knowledge and training alone are not enough to mitigate foodborne illnesses. Researchers have begun to assess food safety through the lens of organizational culture. It has been shown that food safety practices are partly influenced by prevailing cultural norms within work environments. The aim of this study was two-fold: 1) to assess food safety culture and social system factors effect on child care food handler’s self-commitment to perform safe food handling practices in licensed center-based facilities, and 2) to identify perceived important barriers and motivators to following recommended food safety practices. Two paper-based questionnaires were utilized, the first for directors gathering facility demographics, the second for child care food handling employees to assess their perceptions of food safety culture in their facilities, and barriers and motivators to following recommended food handling practices. A total of 99 director and 990 employee questionnaires were sent, 71 directors and 287 employee questionnaires were returned. Of the employee questionnaires returned 271 were useable, for response rate of 27.4%; all director questionnaires were usable for a response rate of 71.7%. Results identified three factors, manager/coworker support, the ability to speak freely, and communication from managers to staff, had the highest correlations with self-commitment. However, speak freely and communication were the only factors with statistically significant effects on self-commitment. Additionally, food handling employees’ perceived six important barriers and 14 key motivators to following recommended food safety practices. Important barriers pertained to too much work to do; the work pace; too busy; lack of time, being afraid of coworkers reaction, and don’t think I need to follow food safety practices. Key motivators were focused on children’s safety, available supplies, communication, and food safety training/information. Conclusions and implications of the importance of providing clear instructions to staff and creating an atmosphere where staff feel comfortable in speaking freely are given. The mitigation of identified barriers and inclusion of key motivators is also discussed.


Copyright Owner

Joel Reynolds



File Format


File Size

204 pages