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CIPHI Series: “I don’t lose any sleep over it”: Understanding the barriers and facilitators to consumer safe food handling
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 12:00 pm to 01:00 pm
Venue: 661 University Ave .Boardroom 17-53
Research and Collaboration
City: Toronto
Type: Seminar
Format: In Person; Webinar
Note: This is an open invitation, and may be forwarded to interested parties.

Foodborne illness has substantial health and economic impacts on society. Most cases of foodborne illness are associated with exposure to contaminated food at home compared to other settings (e.g. restaurants). Previous studies have found that most consumers do not follow several recommended safe food handling practices at home, likely contributing to this illness burden. This presentation will discuss the results of a systematic review of qualitative research studies to determine the underlying facilitators and barriers affecting consumers’ adoption and maintenance of safe food handling behaviours at home. A structured and transparent approach was used to identify relevant literature, assess the quality of articles, extract relevant results, and synthesize key themes. We identified 21 barriers and 10 facilitators to safe food handling from 37 studies; these were grouped across six thematic areas: confidence and perceived risk; knowledge-behaviour gap; habits and heuristics; practical and lifestyle constraints; food preferences; and societal and social influences. Our overall confidence that each barrier and facilitator represents the phenomenon of interest was rated as high (n=11), moderate (11), and low (9). Overarching findings included: 1) safe food handling behaviours occur as part of a complex interaction of everyday consumer practices and habituation; 2) most consumers are not concerned about food safety and are generally not motivated to change their behaviours based on new knowledge about food safety risks; and 3) social pressure has a consistent impact on consumers’ willingness change their safe food handling habits. Key implications and recommendations for public health inspectors and future research, policy and practice will be discussed.


Educational Objectives:


This presentation will review the results of a systematic review of qualitative research studies that investigated the reasons affecting consumers' use of safe food handling behaviours in their homes. The presentation will discuss:

  • The importance of ensuring food safety at the consumer level;
  • The major barriers to safe food handling among consumers;
  • The major facilitators and motivators for safe food handling among consumers;
  • Promising strategies and techniques for food safety and public health professionals to increase consumer adoption and maintenance of safe food handling behaviours.

Presenter: Ian Young ​


Dr. Ian Young is an Assistant Professor in the School of Occupational and Public Health, Ryerson University. He obtained a BASc in Public Health and Safety from Ryerson University in 2007 and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Guelph in 2010. From 2011–2013, he completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the University of Guelph and the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses (now part of the National Microbiology Laboratory), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and later worked as an epidemiologist with PHAC. In 2015, Dr. Young worked as a Food Safety Expert with the Food Safety and Quality Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy. His current research focuses on addressing applied and policy-relevant public health issues at the human, animal, agri-food and environment interface, with a particular interest in food safety along the food chain and the use of knowledge synthesis methodologies in support of decision-making.



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