Improving safe food-handling practices by increasing self-efficacy

D. van Rijen, E. Mergelsberg, G. ten Hoor, B. Mullan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Worldwide, approximately one in ten people acquire a foodborne disease due to eating contaminated food. This often occurs at home and young adults in particular often lack knowledge of and adherence to safe food-handling recommendations. Using an experimental design, we compared two groups to investigate whether increasing knowledge and self-efficacy would improve food safety behaviour in young adults in comparison to increasing knowledge alone. All participants (N = 221) completed questionnaires assessing safe food-handling knowledge, self-efficacy, and behaviour, and watched an educational safe food-handling campaign consisting of four short videos providing information on how to safely cook, clean, prepare, and chill food. The experimental group (N = 121) created an action plan, set a safe food-handling related goal, and made a commitment to change their safe food-handling behaviour. The control group (N = 100) completed a similar task not specific to safe foodhandling. One week later, the questionnaires were repeated. Repeated measures ANOVAs showed that selfefficacy and behaviour increased in both groups but there was a significantly greater increase in the experimental group. Knowledge increased significantly in the experimental group, but did not in the control group. No mediation of self-efficacy on safe food-handling behaviour in the experimental group was found. The intervention was successful in improving the impact of the educational materials and further, self-efficacy increased significantly even when applied to a non-related topic. This has important implications for improvements in safe food-handling media campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108361
Number of pages7
JournalFood Control
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Safe food-handling
  • Knowledge
  • Safe food-handling self-efficacy
  • Safe food-handling behaviour
  • Behaviour change techniques


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