Development of an online food safety training and pilot study for employees of university farms and school gardens

Dzubak, John
Major Professor
Angela M. Shaw
Committee Member
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Food Science and Human Nutrition

Two one-hour on farm food safety online module were developed to inform k-12 students and university farm workers on food safety hazards associated with production and harvesting of fresh produce. Module content was developed through a review of the current Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program, current research available, and updated regulations in produce food safety. Quizzes for students and a user manual were created for facilitators and instructors to support the online modules. After developing the course materials, a pilot study was conducted at two k-12 school districts in Iowa, two land grant universities, with a six member expert steering committee panel to test the knowledge gained through the two developed curriculum. The six member expert steering committee along with three other facilitators completed an online survey consisting of open-ended questions to determine the effectiveness of the online module and the supporting materials available on the inclusive webpage. The hypothesis of this research is that the online curriculum and supportive material will be beneficial to both demographics, and increase in knowledge will be observed after viewing developed material.

Students and university survey results indicate that the online module will significantly increase the knowledge of students and university workers related to hazards associated with produce food safety (P<0.05). The topics, graphics, design, length, and webpage were appropriate for the age group. Additionally, the resource guide and quizzes were perceived as helpful and will be useful to increase the knowledge and confidence of the training facilitators (P<0.05). The group indicated that specific graphic and content material changes should be made within the module. This online module is a first step toward educating youth about food safety in the garden. Knowledge on hazard prevention can reduce the risk of produce contamination and decrease produce outbreaks from occurring in school gardens.