Consumer food-safety education for the domestic environment: a systematic review

05 June 2012

Purpose Despite the recognised importance of food-safety, a large number of consumers do not practice adequate food-safety in the home. Many studies have recommended that education is a key step in preventing food borne illness in the domestic environment. However, few educational or psychosocial interventions have been designed and implemented to improve food-safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. Even fewer of these studies have been subject to rigorous appraisal. A systematic review of studies that described and evaluated a food-safety intervention in a non-clinical adult sample was conducted. Design/methodology/approach A total of ten studies met the criteria for inclusion in the systematic review. Outcomes of interest included food-safety behaviour, behavioural intention, attitudes, knowledge, microbial transfer and the use of Social Cognition Models. Findings The evidence regarding the effectiveness of the reviewed interventions on these food-safety outcomes was somewhat positive, however, many gaps remained. For example, of the 5 self-report behaviour change studies all reported some significant improvement post intervention. However, the percentage of specific behaviours that significantly changed within each study varied between 0.04 to 100%. There were methodological flaws in many of the studies which complicated the interpretation of these results and indicate a need for more research. Research limitations/implications Future research should include better defined outcomes, longer follow-up, more rigorous reporting of results and intervention design, the use of randomised controlled trial protocols, and utilising health models to have a greater theoretical underpinning to the studies. Originality/value This is the first systematic review examining the effect of psychosocial food-safety interventions on behaviour, attitudes and knowledge.