Food safety policies and procedures for student-led food events at colleges and universities in the United States
Many college students host student-led food events at colleges and universities (CUs) in the United States (U.S.), but research has shown that a lack of food safety knowledge among college students may result in unsafe food handling practices. While CUs in the U.S. may have food safety policies and procedures in place to ensure safe food handling practices for student-led food events during these events, there have been no research studies exploring their current food safety policies and procedures. This study is therefore aimed at exploring current food safety policies and procedures for student-led events at CUs in the U.S., and assessing similarities and differences in existing food safety policies and procedures for such events.
The participants (n=231)were obtained by merging two sample clusters of land-grant universities: 120 land-grant CUs from a list provided by the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and 190 CUs from a list of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. After eliminating redundancies in universities, a web-based questionnaire was emailed to 231 personnel responsible for overseeing student-led events at CUs in the U.S. Of the 86 questionnaires returned, 75 (32.5%) completed responses were usable with respect to results. Participants were knowledgeable about food safety practices/risks (9.25 Ã Â± 0.29 out of ten possible points). Of the 75 participating CUs, 55 (73.3%) indicated that they sanctioned student-led food events and 40 (72.7%) had food safety policies and procedures in place. Statistical significant differences (p<0.05) and practical significance (Cohen’s d ≥ 0.70) in attitudes towards food safety policies and procedures were identified by the number of registered student organizations at CUs during the 2016-2017 academic year.
A content analysis was conducted to identify common and variable aspects in food safety policies and procedures for student-led food events presented on the 40 CU websites that had indicated in-place food safety and policies. As seen through the results, guidelines for proper food handling and adequate cooking were commonly presented on CU websites, whereas those for reliable food procurement sources and food safety related to contaminated equipment were not. While food safety policies were often presented on CU websites, procedures for addressing foodborne illness incidents or allegations were not. The results of this study provide knowledge about current food safety policies and procedures for student-led CU food events and describe similarities and differences among these policies and procedures. This study will provide guidance for the future development of a food safety policy and procedures template that can be used by CUs as a checklist for food safety preparedness of student-led food events.