Title

Development of a HACCP-like model for home prepared 'chicken & salad' in a Puerto Rican community

Date of Completion

January 2005

Keywords

Health Sciences, Nutrition|Health Sciences, Public Health

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

We conducted secondary data analyses (n = 500) with the main goal of evaluating the influence of the USDA Fight BAC! Campaign among Puerto Ricans living in inner-city Hartford. The second aim was to identify food safety k&barbelow;nowledge, a&barbelow;ttitudes and b&barbelow;ehaviors (KABs) among this population. The vast majority of respondents reported washing their hands and food preparation areas with soap/disinfectant before starting meal preparation (>95%). Nevertheless, 42% reported using the same knife to cut meat and vegetables and 10% using the same plate to place meat before and after cooking. Furthermore, the majority of respondents reported thawing meat on the counter (90%) and few reported eating runny eggs and ‘pink’ hamburgers (3%). Findings from this study led to a second study where we examined the application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) at the household level. HACCP was applied by direct observation and microbial testing of food and surface samples before and during meal preparation. We recruited 60 Puerto Rican women who were the main meal preparers to prepare a ‘chicken and salad’ meal in their home kitchen using food ingredients provided by the research staff. ^ Only 25% washed their hands with soap and water after handling the chicken and before handling vegetables. There were significantly positive coliform counts correlations (p < 0.05, Spearman's rho range: 0.40–0.85) among the cutting board (before use), chicken (after cutting), cutting board (after use), and tomatoes (after cutting on same cutting board), indicating cross contamination. Before starting meal preparation, 47% and 42% of participants' hands tested positive for coliform and S. aureus, respectively. Thawing on counter or in water (OR: 6.32, p = .028) and use of fixed surfaces such as the counter to cut meat (OR: 6.53, p = .044) was significantly associated with higher coliform counts in chicken after being handled by the participant. Not washing/rinsing vegetables (lettuce, OR: 6.30, p = .032; tomatoes, OR: 6.00, p = .041) and not washing cutting surface before they were used (OR: 8.61, p = .037) were behaviors significantly associated with a higher coliform count. Listeria was found in 5% of ‘ready to eat’ lettuce and 2% of tomato samples. Self-reported behaviors such as hand-washing, thawing method and washing of food ingredients were not reported as practice observed during meal preparation. ^ In conclusion, the HACCP approach can be applied at the household level with some modifications. Our findings also indicates that microbial contamination during meal preparation can be controlled through a combination of safe food handling practices, frequent and effective hand washing and the use of adequate food preparation surfaces. Results have major implications for food safety extension efforts targeting low-income consumers in the USA. ^