An Integrated Approach to Understanding Food Safety Practices and Attitudes Among Local Food Systems Actors

2013 Annual Report for LNC11-331

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $128,102.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: Ohio State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Doug Doohan
Ohio State University
Dr. Jason Parker
The Ohio State University

An Integrated Approach to Understanding Food Safety Practices and Attitudes Among Local Food Systems Actors


Interest in preventing and controlling food safety risks has exploded in recent years as incidents involving contaminated produce and other foods have been widely reported. Consumer concern about food safety contributes to increased regulatory oversight and development of dubious food safety metrics among industry buyers designed mostly for large scale farms. At the same time, the local foods movement has prompted the expansion of the fresh produce industry with small and medium scale produce farmers selling direct to their customers via farmers’ markets (FMs). With this growth there is a need to understand the policies established by FMs to guide practices of their vendors and provide consistent food safety criteria. This research is timely in supporting market managers, while addressing consumer and grower concerns of proposed new food safety standards.

The short term outcomes are improved context specific knowledge of food safety practices, roles, and attitudes among NC Region (NCR) local food system actors. Using a multi-method research design the research will identify testable, scale appropriate practices among NCR growers to provide a base of knowledge to investigate the effectiveness of food safety practices on these farms. New knowledge will be generated of FM managers’ perceived and actual roles in ensuring food safety, as well as needs for implementing programs. Surveys of consumers will assess acceptance of a scaled approach to food safety. The intermediate term outcomes are research based knowledge of grower practices to inform and influence food safety recommendations. The research will also result in increased preparedness of FM managers in the NCR and pilot food safety programs, as well as greater confidence in consumer acceptance for scaled approaches to food safety. These outcomes will help ensure that all farms have access to scale appropriate food safety recommendations. Providing alternatives to a one-size-fits-all food safety standard will help to maintain small and medium scale farms on the landscape, as well as assure consumers that they provide verifiably safe foods.



Objectives/Performance Targets

The project identified the following objectives/performance targets: • Increased understanding of consumer food safety attitudes and a scaled approach to food safety; • Research-based knowledge of food safety practices of NCR small and medium growers and identification of new testable, scale appropriate practices of these growers; • Increased knowledge of the perceived and actual roles of farmers’ markets in ensuring food safety; and, • Identification of food safety information needs of farmers’ market managers.


2013 Accomplishments


–          Prepared and refined the market manager interview guide and accompanying materials related to recruitment and process


–          Submitted Market Manager Interview protocol to Institutional Review Board


–          Further refinement of the NCR market management list


–          Administrative details associated with adding Jason back on from different institution and submission of no-cost extension


–          Added additional support to project


–          List of NCR Markets and Managers


–          Refined Market Manager Interview Guide


–          Refined Market Manager Recruitment Strategy


–          Submitted Final Market Manager Interview Guide and Process to Institutional Review Board with continued refinement of Final Market Manager Interview Guide and Process per recommendations of Institutional Review Board


–          Draft of farmer self-assessment protocol, including identification of self-assessment tool and farmer recruitment letters for Institutional Review Board submission


–          Identification of work plan for 2014-early 2015, including:


o   Completion of market manager interviews (completed August 2014)


o   Analysis of market manager interviews and development of descriptive report of findings, including identification of innovative practices and needs


o   Submission of farmer self-assessment protocol to Institutional Review Board


o   Completion of on-farm self-assessments

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


New knowledge will be generated of FM managers’ perceived and actual roles in ensuring food safety.


Dr. Molly Bean
Research Associate
The Ohio State University
210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road
Columbus, OH 43210
Office Phone: 6146888798