Food Safety Knowledge and Behaviors among African Americans of Predominantly Low Socioeconomic Status

Preethi Pratap, Apurba Chakraborty, Mark S. Dworkin

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 16-24, Jan 2017

Volume 37, Issue 1: Pages 16–24

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Few studies have documented food safety knowledge and behaviors among African Americans. We performed a cross-sectional study to assess food safety knowledge, behaviors, and awareness of food safety educational materials among African Americans of low socioeconomic status (SES). A food safety questionnaire was administered to 200 African American participants of predominantly low SES. A food safety score (FSS) was calculated based on responses to 14 questions, with a higher score implying greater food safety knowledge. The overall mean FSS was 10.2/14 (73%). One hundred ten participants (55%) reported inadequate (< 15 seconds) hand washing, and 107 (54%) reported using one cutting board for both meat and produce. Only 34 (17%) had previously heard of the USDA recommendation “to boil chitterlings for 5 minutes before cleaning,” and only half (108, 54%) had heard of at least one of the food safety programs – FightBAC!®, Thermy™, and Be Food Safe. Participants who were unemployed at the time of the survey, had less than a high school diploma, prepared chitterlings, and were receiving food stamp benefits scored a significantly lower overall FSS. Active dissemination of educational materials and improved outreach should be considered for better penetration of food safety information among low SES African Americans.

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