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EXPLORATORY DATA ANALYSIS OF CONSUMER FOOD SAFETY BEHAVIORS
Food safety researchers and extension workers are focused on educating the different actors of the supply chain, from farm to fork. To accomplish this, researchers identify areas of improvement and investigate the factors that cause or explain food safety behaviors. This thesis is divided into a systematic literature review with a meta-analysis and qualitative synthesis (Ch. 2), then two case studies that use predictive models to find top predictors of food safety behaviors (Ch.3 and 4). The systematic review (Ch.2) investigates online food safety educational programs and their effectiveness, barriers, and recommendations on different subpopulations of students, consumers, and food workers. The findings showed a limited effect on attitudes in the different subpopulations. Several areas for future research and recommendations for educators were identified. The first case study (Ch.3) developed predictive models of different food safety behaviors at ten time points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest an effect between changes in COVID-19 case numbers and how well attitudes related to COVID-19 can make predictions. Additionally, findings suggest the importance of attitudes when predicting food safety behaviors. Lastly, results identified that the belief that handwashing protects against foodborne illness was more important than the belief that handwashing protects against COVID-19 when predicting handwashing at most time points. These findings can identify insights into consumer behaviors during the pandemic and several possible areas for future research. The second case study (Ch. 4) developed predictive models of consumer flour handling practices and consumer awareness of flour-related recalls and how they are affected by the total number of flour-related recalls for a state where the consumer lives. Findings identified the importance of risk perceptions in predicting consumer flour handling practices. Results also showed that younger consumers were predicted to be more likely to be aware of flour recalls than consumers of older ages. Lastly, results show that the total number of flour-related recalls for a state where the consumer lives do not affect predictions. Findings identify potential challenges to recall communication and areas for future studies.
- Master of Science
- Food Science
- West Lafayette