Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



Stenger, K.M. (2012). A mixed methods approach to food safety knowledge, beliefs and practices in Hispanic families with young children in Nebraska. MS thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Julie Albrecht. Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Kristen M. Stenger


This mixed methods study addresses food safety for Hispanic families with young children in Nebraska. A convergent mixed methods design was used, where qualitative and quantitative data were collected in parallel, analyzed separately and then merged in analysis and interpretation. A quantitative food safety knowledge survey (n=90, 52 from focus groups, 38 from piloting the survey), was used to assess the FightBac!™ concepts: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill, and two additional concepts: foods that increase risk, and groups at increased risk. Qualitative focus groups explored food safety handling beliefs and practices through the lens of the Health Belief Model. Focus groups (6 groups, 52 participants total) were held with the primary food handler in Hispanic families with children 10 years old and yournger across Nebraska. Also explored by both data sets, were effective strategies to reach Hispanic families with targeted information to prevent foodborne illness. The survey was administered at the beginning of the focus group. Participants were recruited by convenience from six different community sites and churches (Lincoln [two sites], South Sioux City, Columbus, Lexington and Grand Island, Nebraska). Strong qualitative themes include: knowledge of cleanliness and hygiene, lacking resources and the belief that foods are more fresh and more “natural” from home countries when compared to foods from the US. Results from the 90 completed knowledge surveys indicate low levels of knowledge (M=72%, SD=11%), and good correlation value (KR20, r=0.659). Six different mixed methods themes were developed surrounding food handling control, fresh vs. packaged foods, and high frequency foods (chicken). Effective strategies for delivering health information that emerged include having workshops or classes, and a need for materials in Spanish. These findings are important because Hispanics have higher rates of foodborne illness and poorer food safety practices than other groups. The results from this study will help to develop an educational project designed to reduce foodborne illness rates in Hispanic communities in Nebraska.

Advisor: Julie Albrecht