Consumers are the focus at Tennessee State University (TSU), Nashville, where researchers are completing an ambitious six-year project focused on reducing illnesses from Campylobacter (and Salmonella) by improving consumer storage, handling, and preparation of raw poultry and poultry products.
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Explore this issueFebruary/March 2018
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Funded by a $2.4 million USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant from Aug. 1, 2012 through July 31, 2018, the project has five objectives, according to project director Sandria Godwin, PhD, a TSU food science professor.
These objectives are to:
- Characterize consumers purchase, storage, handling, and preparation of poultry products and eggs and their awareness and understanding of existing food safety messages;
- Assess and prioritize the risk of contamination or cross-contamination from purchase or in-home storage, handling, and preparation of poultry products and eggs;
- Develop and test science-based and consumer-focused messages identified in Objectives 1 and 2 and educational programs on safe purchase, storage, handling, and preparation of poultry products and eggs;
- Evaluate messages and educational programs to assess the impact on improving consumers’ purchase, storage, handling, and preparation of poultry products and eggs; and
- Enhance student experiential learning opportunities through participation in food microbiology assessments and consumer studies.
“Working with Kansas State University and RTI International, we began our project by conducting focus groups and a nationally representative Web-enabled survey to characterize consumer practices and awareness and understanding of existing food safety messages,” Dr. Godwin relates. “This research was supplemented by observational and laboratory-based studies to address gaps in the scientific literature. Our studies were designed to describe shopping behavior and home storage practices and the risk of cross-contamination, assess the risk of extended consumer storage of fresh and liquid eggs, and determine temperatures of current consumer cooking practices of poultry products and eggs. We also identified risky practices and used the results to develop science-based and consumer-focused messages addressing these practices.”
Dr. Godwin says the study yielded a multifaceted educational program for youth aged 12 to 18 and adults. “The curriculum and print resources are being designed so that other food safety educators can easily use them,” she points out. “The curriculum is downloadable from the Web and also made available on a USB for those with limited Internet access. This program has been widely popular and was featured at the 2017 National FFA (Future Farmers of America) convention, where over 60,000 youth were in attendance.”
Don’t Wing It!, another TSU Campylobacter educational program funded by NIFA, targets millennial parents and older adults. The site also has a section for grocers with food safety handouts and promotional items.
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.