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The Creation of An Educational Toolkit Designed to Reduce Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Small Restaurants, High Risk Meat Markets, Flea Markets, and Mobile Food Establishments


An EHS-Net site is proposed consisting of the three largest governmental jurisdictions within Harris County, Texas, the third largest county in the United States. The jurisdictions, responsible for a total of 23,700 fixed retail and mobile food establishments with a combined force of 58 food inspectors, have a support network of a food safety science research program within a large local university, city and county epidemiologists, health educators, audio-visual technologists, public information specialists, and access to state and state laboratories. The site is capable and willing to collect environmental data during foodborne illness outbreak investigations, participate in national EHS-Net studies, and implement its own practice-based research study. To ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness in its efforts to reduce foodborne illness risk factors in Harris County, the Harris County EHS-Network proposes a non-conventional food safety training technique in the form of behavior modification methods supported by non-verbal and bilingual training aids for small retail food establishment that lack an internal support network to promote and ensure food safety best practices. The research team, including professors experienced in organizational culture and diversity issues, will identify the most prevalent foodborne illness risk factors in a study of small, non-incorporated restaurants, meat markets, flea market food establishments and mobile food establishments in Harris County by administering the FDA foodborne illness risk factor survey, a knowledge-based survey for food managers and food handlers as well as by collecting and analyzing food and environmental samples. An educational toolkit consisting of behavior modification methods and bi-lingual and non-verbal training materials will be created and tested at a sample of the four establishment types. The research team will assess and analyze the effectiveness of the toolkit through re-administration of the knowledge and risk factor surveys after the training intervention, modifying the behavior modification methods and training aids as needed. The educational toolkit will be available through electronic means for simple and fast application by other jurisdictions and managers. The practice-based research in this proposal is significant because developing behavior modification training methods through the use of modeling and non-verbal training aids tailored to meet needs of small food operations with a diverse population of food handlers will help ensure that food safety is not only being learned, but the knowledge is being translated into practice and incorporated into standard operating procedures and into a culture of food safety.

Copeland, Deanna
Harris County
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