Research – Moving Forward to the Future: A Review of Microbial Food Safety Education in China

Liebert Pub

Millions of foodborne illness cases occur in China annually, causing significant social and economic burdens. Improper food handling has been observed not only among commercial food handlers but also among residential food handlers. It is critical to conduct a comprehensive scoping review of previous efforts to identify food safety knowledge gaps, explore the factors impacting knowledge levels, and synthesize the effectiveness of all types of food safety educational interventions for commercial and residential food handlers in China. This review aims to analyze food safety education studies published over the past 20 years and provide foundations for developing more effective food safety educational interventions in China. A total of 35 studies were included in this review. Most studies reported that Chinese commercial and residential food handlers had insufficient food safety knowledge, especially in the areas of foodborne pathogens and safe food-handling practices. The factors impacting food handlers’ knowledge levels included education level, gender, income level, residency (rural vs. urban), the use of WeMedia, college students’ major, and food safety training experiences. Food handlers in the following demographic groups tend to have lower levels of food safety knowledge: lower education levels, the elderly, males, lower-income levels, rural residents, those who do not use WeMedia, those without food safety training experience, or college students in nonbiology-focused majors. Many food handlers did not always follow recommended food safety practices, such as proper meat handling practices, handwashing practices, and cleaning and sanitation practices. Thirteen studies evaluated the effectiveness of educational interventions, and knowledge increases were reported after all interventions. The findings of this review provide guidance to researchers, educators, and government agencies in their future efforts to develop education programs emphasizing the importance of microbial food-safety content and behavior change regarding food safety and hygiene practices.

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