As a result of this integrated research, education and Extension effort, youth will engage in behavior that prevents foodborne illness.<P>
To achieve this overall goal, project team members will: <ol>
<li> Investigate the food-handling responsibilities and obstacles to adopting safe food handling behavior encountered by middle school consumers, including knowledge of foodborne disease and preventative behaviors, psychosocial factors (i.e., attitudes, locus of control, self-efficacy), and self-reported food-handling procedures; <li> Develop recommendations for educational and behavioral objectives for development of new materials based on research findings; <li> Develop learning tools that meet food safety educational behavioral objectives and national science standards for use in middle school science classrooms. These learning tools, such as games and interactive programs, will address national science standards and have supplemental learning guides to assist teachers or Extension educators in using educational programs in formal learning environments; <li> Conduct formative evaluation of learning tools throughout the development process and conduct summative evaluation of competed materials in two geographic regions of the nation, developing recommendations for national distribution. </ol>
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Surveys indicate that consumers frequently mishandle food, though most research has focused on adults. Little attention has been given to children and teen's understanding of food handling knowledge and skills, despite their interest in studying food safety, interest in food preparation for themselves and their families, growing responsibilities related to family food shopping and preparation, and future adulthood roles as caregivers for household members such as infants, young children, and elderly parents. An understanding of the food safety knowledge and skills of youth, coupled with an understanding of effective educational approaches for middle school children (e.g., focus on real life tasks, use of learner-paced active learning can enable youth to gain vital safe food handling skills. The purpose of this integrated research, education and Extension project, is to create behaviorial changes in youth that prevents foodborne illness, through engaging computer-based learning environments and activities.
APPROACH: The proposed project is built upon an integrated set of research activities including focus group interviews with middle school children and parents of middle schoolers that are designed to generate baseline data regarding the food safety knowledge and skills of these audiences. A panel comprising experts in food safety education will review the baseline data and provide input that will be used to develop recommendations for the design of food safety education interventions for middle school consumers. An extensive education and outreach plan has been developed to disseminate baseline research findings and design recommendations as well as create food safety education materials based on the recommendations, conduct formative and summative evaluation of the effectiveness of these materials, and disseminate the materials to Extension, science teacher networks, and food safety education programs.