Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Food Science

Advisor

Philip G. Crandall

Committee Member

Kristen Gibson

Second Committee Member

Scot Burton

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Veilleux

Fourth Committee Member

Han-Seok Seo

Keywords

Food Safety, Food Science, Foodservice Industry, Hospitality, Psychology, Public Health

Abstract

As Americans are spending greater portions of their dollar on food consumed outside the home, the foodservice industry plays more of an integral part of daily existence compared to previous generations. Given the numerous annual foodborne illness outbreaks that threaten human lives while undermining confidence in the food supply, food safety is a pertinent issue for industry stakeholders, government regulators, and consumers. Food worker handwashing reduces the risk of foodborne illness transmission, yet compliance with this simple behavior is a complex problem. This dissertation addresses, predominantly, the issue of sub-optimal handwashing practices through applying psychology and technology, including wearable computers and a video game.

Chapter one discusses prior efforts to improve handwashing compliance, while providing a theoretical framework to guide industry professionals through strategies that consider the potentially negative psychological effects of interventions on employees. Chapter two highlights handwashing practices of early childhood center food handlers. While average compliance was 22%, strict adherence to the guidelines would have required 12 minutes/hour devoted to handwashing.

Chapter three explores handwashing in relation to organizational climate factors; managerial commitment was the only significant predictor of handwashing. Chapter four shows wearable technology-based training is preferred by food handlers. Chapter five indicates how participants who viewed strictly video-based training were four times as likely to wash hands compared to participants trained with smart glasses. Chapter six highlights the efficiency of handwashing training with smart glasses.

Chapter seven includes the design and development of a video game played while washing hands. Perceptions of the device were only slightly positive, showing the need for either improved reward mechanisms or alternative strategies to motivate handwashing.

Chapter eight evaluates the relationship between risk classification of foodservice establishments and food safety violation rates. High priority facilities had significantly higher food safety violation rates compared to medium and low priority facilities.

In looking to the future of foodservice, many jobs are highly susceptible to automation; emotional intelligence may translate to greater job security in the coming years. Chapter nine evaluated perceptions of job insecurity rendered by automation in relation to emotional intelligence. There was no correlation between the two variables.

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