Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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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 A. Albrecht. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Kara A. Vlasin-Marty


Food safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Native American families with young children were studied using a mixed methods approach. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected together, analyzed separately, and compared. A food safety knowledge survey was created using the FightBac!™ concepts. A total of 102 participants completed the knowledge survey during survey validation and as part of focus groups. Focus groups were conducted using a script based on the Health Belief Model to better understand the food safety beliefs and practices of Native Americans. Eight focus groups were conducted in Lincoln, Macy, Omaha, South Sioux City, Walthill (2), and Winnebago (2) at local community centers with a total of 66 participants. Participants were asked to complete the surveys before the focus group started. A majority of participants were female (81.4%), had at least a high school degree or some college, and were currently unemployed. Qualitative themes were: symptoms, consequences, and sources of foodborne illness; and misunderstanding of food that causes illness with food allergies or chronic diseases; and barriers to food safety including lack of control, time, money, and cooking knowledge; and preferred education methods and materials; and food preparation and practices in the Native American culture.

Specific food safety issues of concern were: bleach was used in dish water and cleaning solutions but the ratio of water to bleach was unknown and possibly misused; and a lack of knowledge to determine if meat has been cooked properly to kill harmful bacteria; and how to cool and store hot foods properly after cooking. They had a profound lack of trust in food prepared in restaurants. The knowledge score was 45.4+6.6 (61.4% correct) indicating a need for food safety education.

The participants were from Nebraska and not randomly selected, therefore the results cannot be generalized to the United States Native American population. Results will be used to develop a food safety education program for Native Americans in Nebraska.

Adviser: Julie A. Albrecht