T6-03 Identifying Food Safety Education Needs for Ontario’s (Canada) Youth: An Analysis of Key Informant Interviews

Monday, July 27, 2015: 9:00 AM
C123 (Oregon Convention Center)
Ken Diplock , University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems , Waterloo , Canada
Shannon Majowicz , University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems , Waterloo , Canada
Andria Jones-Bitton , Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph , Guelph , Canada
Scott Leatherdale , University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems , Waterloo , Canada
David Hammond
Andrew Papadopoulos
Steve Rebellato
Joel Dubin
Introduction: Youth are a unique audience for food safety education, given that they can have riskier eating behaviors, and that food handling is a common youth job opportunity.  Before food safety education can be successfully delivered to this audience, their specific education and training needs must be determined. 

Purpose: To determine the most important food safety education needs for high school students in Ontario, Canada. Specifically our goal was to prioritize messages from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s existing, standardized food handler training program, and identify additional messages unique to this demographic.

Methods: We conducted 19 semi-structured key informant interviews with experts in food safety and youth education.  Interviewees were given the standard training material prior to the interview, and were asked about the need for food safety education in youth, to prioritize the content from the standard training material based on youth’s needs, and to identify any other priority training messages for youth.  We identified implicit and explicit priority training needs via thematic analysis.

Results: Food safety education in youth was considered important due to reported perceptions of invulnerability, low understanding of risks associated with foods, the ‘second weaning’ phenomenon, and the need to instill good practices before bad habits are established. Priority education messages were: hand hygiene; cross contamination; temperature (emphasizing reheating, leftovers, lunches, and snacks); and microbiology (emphasizing how food gets contaminated and how anyone can get sick). Other unique education needs included travelling with food, and sharing of food and drink.

Significance: Ontario’s standard food handler training program, developed mainly for commercial food handlers, aligns well with the education needs of the province’s youth, particularly if risks important to youth (e.g., packed lunches) can be highlighted.