Knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, concerning food hygiene, in children and young adults, in South East Wales
Surveillance statistics show that many food poisoning cases occur in the home and surveys have revealed wide spread ignorance of cross-contamination and temperature control. In this work the food preparation practices of children and young adults (n=267) in south East wales were considered. Regular food preparation was found to occur from age 11 and the most common practices were sandwich and snack making. Sources of information about food hygiene were highlighted and the role of schools in the provision of food hygiene information was considered. Ninety eight teachers responded and of these 86% of Primary school teachers and all secondary schoolteachers surveyed claimed they taught food hygiene, with the skill considered most important by the majority of teachers being hand washing. The relationship between food hygiene and psychological precursors of behaviour was investigated. The data regarding food preparation practices was collated and was used to inform the construction of a questionnaire based on the Theory of Reasoned Action. The beliefs used in the construction of the questionnaire were obtained from a sample (n=438) and the most common beliefs about what they could do to keep food safe to eat included 'cook food properly', 'wash hands' and 'check the best before date'. Using self report measures (n=267) a significant correlation was recorded (β=0.42) and further, attitude, subjective norm and intention explained 51% of the variance in behaviour. However, using observations (n=30) the relationship was not found to be significant (β=0.03) and attitude, subjective norm and intention explained only 8% of the variance in behaviour. The implications of this in terms both of food hygiene and the Theory of Reasoned Action were considered.