Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Science

Department

Nutrition and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Ingrid E. Lofgren

Abstract

From 2001 to 2010, foodborne illness outbreaks increased in the US and 17% of the outbreaks were from produce. High-risk, whole produce at farmers’ markets present unique challenges to food safety practices in regards to temperature controls, potable water, and exposure to contaminants. Use of a Smartphone application decreases behavior change in those being observed as they are unaware of the observation taking place. The purpose of this descriptive study was to use direct observations to identify unsafe food handling practices among high-risk produce vendors at Rhode Island farmers’ markets. This study used a Smartphone application as a tool for data acquisition, developed to perform direct observations of actual vendors’ practices at farmers’ markets. Observations were made at fourteen (7 state and 7 private) farmers’ markets to collect food handling practices of 26 vendors selling high-risk produce. The mean observation time was 18.3±5.8 minutes. Vendors had unsafe food handling practices that include eating, talking on the phone and touching money and then touching produce. The results of this study will be used as guidance for education programs targeting farmers’ market managers and vendors that promote best practices in regards to high-risk, whole produce.

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