Teens are less likely to wash their hands while cooking and are more likely to cross-contaminate raw food than adults, says a new study.
“While half of the adults we observed washed their hands after touching raw chicken, none of the adolescents did,” said Casey Jacob, study co-author and food safety research assistant at Kansas State University (KSU).
“The non-existent hand washing rate, combined with certain age-specific behaviours like hair flipping and scratching in a variety of areas, could lead directly to instances of cross-contamination compared to the adults,” he added.
Food safety isn’t simple, and instructions for safe handling of frozen chicken entrees or strips are rarely followed by consumers despite their best intentions, said Doug Powell, KSU professor of food safety, who led the study.
As the number and type of convenience meal solutions increases, the researchers found a need to understand how both adults and adolescents are preparing these products and what can be done to enhance the safety of frozen foods.
In 2007, KSU researchers developed a novel video capture system to observe the food preparation practices of 41 consumers - 21 primary meal makers and 20 adolescents - in a mock domestic kitchen using frozen, uncooked, commercially available breaded chicken products.
Researchers wanted to determine actual food handling behaviour of these two groups in relation to safe food handling practices and instructions provided on product labels.
Self-report surveys were used to determine whether differences exist between consumers’ reported food handling practices and observed behaviour, said a KSU release.
The research was published in the November issue of the British Food Journal.