Purpose: An on-line, educational, food safety game, Potluck Panic, was assessed for impact on player food safety knowledge and attitudes.
Methods: Focus group participants (n=40) were recruited by students enrolled in an honors section of a food science course, with IRB approval. Subjects played Potluck Panicand answered questions before and after play. Pre-tests consisted of knowledge-based (15), perception (20), and demographic (6) questions. Post-play tests consisted of different 15 knowledge-based questions, the same 20 perception questions, and game evaluation questions.
Results: Study subjects were predominantly between the ages of 18 and 21 years (85%), U.S. citizens (93%), and female (63%). Nearly half (48%) majored in a physical science, primarily life sciences. Fewer than half (42%) were introduced to food safety in high school; 76% indicated they learned food safety at home. Almost half (46%) reported previous use of educational games. Among all subjects, knowledge-assessment items were slightly lower post-play but not statistically significant (p>0.05). Subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on the pre-test showed the greatest improvement. Game play increased subjects’ beliefs that scientific expertise is needed for safe food production (10% increase), industry employs professionals responsible for food safety (14% increase), and regulatory agencies rank most reliable among provided sources of food safety information (7% increase). The majority of players enjoyed the game (75%), reported increased awareness of (88%) and interest in (76%) food safety, intended to seek more information (73%), and were more interested in the food science major (54%) after game play.
Significance: Potluck Panic effectively illustrated food safety as an important scientific discipline and improved cognition among subjects with least food safety familiarity.