Date of Award
Master of Science
Food Science and Human Nutrition
Food Science an d Technology; Horticulture
Angela M Shaw
Food from restaurants and produce farms can be vectors that cause food-borne illnesses. U.S. Virgin Islands experienced category five hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. This resulted in the food businesses to be destroyed. Culturally appropriate food safety educational materials are needed in the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure that food is produced and handled safely. This project's purpose was to determine the top food safety educational needs of food handlers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and develop culturally appropriate extension materials to meet these needs. Focused interviews were conducted with 28 restaurant managers, 7 key informants and 14 produce farm managers, to identify the main food safety concerns. Interview questions for restaurants were based on the FDA's Food Code, while those of produce growers were based on the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. Knowledge and behavior gaps in food and produce handling/ growing practices were coded into themes. Food safety education materials in the form of flip charts, posters, signs and brochures were developed and piloted to 21 persons representing restaurants, farms, and educators. These materials were evaluated for content, design and cultural appropriateness. Modifications were made to materials, final products printed and disseminated to restaurants and produce farms for second evaluation and use for food safety education. Six months later, a survey evaluating the impact of materials on food and produce handling and growing practices was conducted with eleven restaurant managers and eleven produce farm managers. Needs assessments revealed that the four food safety concerns in restaurants were inadequate hygiene and sanitation, time and temperature abuse of food, cross-contamination, and low quality food, while the top food safety concerns on produce farms were: water quality, facility sanitation, hygiene and health of personnel, and insufficient employee food safety training. Feedback from evaluations revealed that materials could be used without major modifications, however, picture illustrations needed to be altered for cultural appropriateness before the second evaluation. The final products were found culturally acceptable, easy to understand, and without need for modification. Food safety education materials had been used to train employees in both restaurants and produce farms. Behavioral changes among food handlers in restaurants were reported in aspects of personal hygiene, temperature control of food, prevention of cross-contamination, as well as improvement in cleaning and sanitizing. Produce farms increased frequency of hand washing, cleaning harvesting tools and harvesting containers, some farms started treating water, installed fences around produce fields, and increased the time interval between applying soil amendments and harvesting.
Nabwiire, Lillian, "Empowering the U.S. Virgin Islands' food industry through food safety education" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17997.