Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Food Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Food Science

Advisor

Philip Crandall

Committee Member

Han-Seok Seo

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Veilluex

Abstract

Poor hand hygiene is a leading cause of foodborne illnesses in the foodservice industry. A series of complex motivational interventions must be employed to permanently change the behavior of workers, to increase their compliance and sustain appropriate levels of proper hand hygiene. Unlike the healthcare industry, which uses large, costly multi-modal behavior modification strategies, the foodservice industry must deploy rapid, cost-efficient strategies that are focus on accommodating these goals with the constraints of high employee turnover rates and diverse demographics. This research was twofold, 1) examining differences in emotions and hand hygiene behavior among participants of two cultures when handling common foods and 2) comparing prospective memory reminders across three basic senses (sight, hearing and smell) for individuals of Hispanic / Latino descent. Results showed hand washing behavior was affected by the type of food being handled and the intensity of the emotion of disgust. Individuals washed their hands more frequently after handling foods they perceived as more hazardous, and their motives to wash varied among variables of gender (self-protection for men, carryover effects for women), culture (self-protection for Caucasians, texture for Hispanics) and the type of food (self-protection for chicken, smell for fish). Additionally, as the feeling of disgust increased among individuals their probability to wash their hands also increased. In our second study, we showed that common, non-provoking visual cues are not as effective at increasing hand hygiene compliance as disgust-induced sensory cues. Furthermore, olfactory disgust, which is an underutilized motivator in interventions, showed a significantly higher probability that individuals would engage in hand washing behaviors than all other stimuli. This knowledge is important for future behavioral interventions that may need to be modified by food type or diversity, and extends current intervention techniques by introducing and comparing disgust-related sensory cues to decrease miscommunication and the intention-behavior gap associated with preforming required routine behaviors such as complying with proper hand hygiene.

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