Small- and Medium-Scale New England Produce Growers’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Implementation of On-farm Food Safety Practices
A survey was designed and administered to measure knowledge of and attitudes toward on-farm food safety among small- and medium-sized farms in the New England (NE) region (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT). Two methods of distribution were used, based on each state project director’s solicitation preference: an on-line survey was distributed through E-mail, and a paper survey was mailed. Survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics, 1-way ANOVA and t-tests, using SPSS software, and significance was reported at P < .05. Respondents from small (n = 254) and medium (n = 47) farms had an overall correct knowledge score of 77 ± 13%, related to on-farm food safety practices in the areas of general food safety, water, health and hygiene, planting/growing/harvesting, post-harvest, animal and pest control, and recall/traceback. Knowledge scores were significantly (P < .05) higher among respondents who had received GAP training (80% vs. 73%) and had implemented on-farm food safety practices (79% vs. 71%). The overall attitude score, based on a 5-point Likert scale, was 3.5 ± 0.5, reflecting the importance of on-farm food safety, trust in others to keep produce safe, perception of local/smaller being safer, and perception that their customers value food safety. On-farm food safety had a positive attitude score (4.0 ± 0.9), while trust in others had a low score (2.4 ± 0.8).
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