Purpose: This intervention study developed, implemented, and evaluated educational impact of a food safety education curriculum for low-income pregnant women.
Methods: Low-income, English- and Spanish-speaking women in Ohio and Colorado (n = 580) participated in an 8-lesson curriculum that was either a Usual education program with minimal food safety information or an Enhanced program that emphasized food safety education. Lessons focused on Listeria monocytogenes and Toxoplasma gondii (Healthy Baby) and Salmonella species and Campylobacter jejuni (Healthy Me), and taught pathogen control behaviors and food selection for illness prevention. Lessons were taught by peer-educators in the two states. Either single participants or small groups of 2 - 3 participants were taught in homes or community centers equipped with kitchen facilities. Pre-and Post-education knowledge and behavior assessment was completed in the participant’s home
Results: Knowledge of foodborne pathogens improved for both groups post-education, and significantly for the Enhanced curriculum participants. Additionally, food safety behaviors significantly improved for the Enhanced group. Across curriculum groups, English-speaking participants reported greater improvement post education in handwashing, pre-rinsing vegetables and avoiding risky foods than did Spanish-speaking participants. Spanish speakers were more likely to promptly refrigerate leftovers post-education than English speakers.
Significance: This comprehensive, randomly-controlled intervention demonstrates that enhanced food safety education improves both knowledge and behaviors related to foodborne pathogens that have high public health impact in the United States.