Use of the Theory of Planned Behavior to Determine Food Safety Behavioral  Intentions among Child Nutrition Employees

Kevin R. Roberts, Kevin Sauer, Paola Paez, Michelle Alcorn Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 40, no. 6, pp. 424-434, Nov 2020 Volume 40, Issue 6: Pages 424–434

The purpose of this study was to use the theory of planned behavior to compare beliefs about three food safety practices between two groups of school nutrition employees: those who absolutely intended to practice each behavior versus those who did not. A questionnaire was used for data collection, and 3,850 surveys were mailed to 163 participating school districts. Data from 408 usable surveys were analyzed, for a response rate of 10.6%. For each of the three behaviors, participants with less than absolute intentions were less likely to think that following proper practices in each of the three behaviors would decrease the chance that students would get sick, would ensure high food quality, and would keep students satisfied. For the three behaviors, people important to employees, such as the school nutrition director and supervisor, were identified by lower intenders as not being as supportive of their food safety efforts when compared with the beliefs among absolute intenders. In all instances, absolute intenders perceived stronger lack of control (i.e., a lower score) than did lower intenders. This study provides a theory-based investigation of how attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral controls affect food safety behaviors in the school nutrition environment.

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