Foodborne illnesses pose a problem to all individuals but are especially significant for infants, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems. Personal hygiene is recognized as the number-one way people can lower their risk. The majority of meals in the U.S. are eaten at home. Little is known, however, about the actual application of personal hygiene and sanitation behaviors in the home.
The study discussed in this article assessed knowledge of hygiene practices compared to observed behaviors and determined whether knowledge equated to practice. It was a descriptive study involving a convenience sample of 30 households. Subjects were recruited from the Boston area and a researcher and/or a research assistant traveled to the homes of study participants to videotape a standard food praparation procedure preceded by floor mopping.
The results highlight the differences between individuals' reported beliefs and actual practice. This information can aid food safety and other health professionals in targeting food safety education so that consumers understand their own critical role in decreasing their risk for foodborne illness.