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Observed food safety behaviors among consumers and employees in university food courts

EunSol Her (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Soobin Seo (Department of Human Sciences, Hospitality Management, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Jihee Choi (Department of Human Sciences, Hospitality Management, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Victor Pool (Department of Human Sciences, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Sanja Ilic (Department of Human Sciences, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 3 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine food safety behaviors of consumers and employees at university food courts.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a smartphone-based observation technique, a total of 149 consumers and 34 employees were observed at three food courts at a mid-western university in the USA. The observational tool recorded 30 sequential transactions of each individual, allowing researchers to identify the compliance rate to the rubric. Both descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis of variance were used for data analysis.

Findings

This study found a low compliance rate of food safety practices among consumers and employees at university food courts. Consumers’ food safety practices varied depending on gender, observed ethnicity and party size, while none of those factors was significant for employees. Specifically, females, Caucasians, and lone diners showed higher non-compliance rates than those of males, non-Caucasians and group diners.

Research limitations/implications

The results of the study raise the pressing needs of developing effective risk communication strategies at university food courts for both consumers and employees in order to reduce the potential risk of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Originality/value

University food courts are not only major foodservice operations for on-campus populations as well as off-campus visitors and the local public, but also the presence of shared dining area pertains the potential risk of foodborne illnesses. However, lack of attention has been paid to the food safety issues at university food courts, and especially food safety behaviors of consumers. This study extended the knowledge of previous food safety literature by adopting a smartphone-based observation technique and developing a rubric customized for consumers and employees at university food courts.

Keywords

Citation

Her, E., Seo, S., Choi, J., Pool, V. and Ilic, S. (2017), "Observed food safety behaviors among consumers and employees in university food courts", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 7, pp. 1619-1632. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-10-2016-0472

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited